"If you're an Elvis fan, no explanation is necessary; If you're not an Elvis fan, no explanation is possible."

(George Klein)



"History has him as this good old country boy, Elvis is about as country as Bono!"

(Jerry Schilling)






"How Great Thou Art"

This hymn is a wonderful proclamation of the awesomeness of God. There are many scriptures which deal with this, but here is one of the most succinct "Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; his greatness no-one can fathom." Psalm 145:3.

The original text of this great hymn was a poem entitled 'O Store Gud' ('Oh Mighty God'), written in 1886, by Swedish pastor, the Reverend Carl Boberg. It is believed that his inspiration for the text came from a visit to a beautiful country estate on the south coast of Sweden. He was suddenly caught in a midday thunderstorm with awe-inspiring moments of flashing violence, followed by a clear brilliant sun. Soon afterwards he heard the calm sweet songs of the birds in the nearby trees. This experience prompted the pastor to fall to his knees in humble adoration of his mighty God. He then returned home and penned the poem.

From studying the videos of Elvis singing this song, it is clear that he also felt the same adoration of this awesome God. Elvis is not just singing, he is worshipping. During a June 1997 concert, a few weeks before he died, he actually personalised the song by singing "my God how great I think you are". The original poem was sung to an old Swedish melody, translated in to several languages, and eventually in 1948, the English version, which we know now, was created. Reverend Stuart K Hine, a native of London, England translated it from Russian, changing 'Oh Mighty God' to 'How Great Thou Art'.

The natural melody and harmonies of the chorus strongly resemble some of the musical phrases in the popular gospel hymn 'Pass me not O Gentle Saviour', and are reminiscent of the Hawaiian national song 'Aloha O'. Elvis loved being in Hawaii and one wonders if his love for the song was also influenced by the melody.

In the fifties 'How great thou Art' was sung as a solo by George Beverley Shea, one of the singers associated with the Billy Graham evangelistic team. I can't help but imagine that if Elvis had fully responded to the calling of God on his life, he would have been alive now, travelling around the world singing with evangelistic crusades. (At the time of writing this, Kenneth Copeland, who can be described as a travelling, singing evangelist is in his sixties, fit and well, travelling the world.

In fact I was at a meeting in which Kenneth Copeland interrupted his preaching to talk about Elvis he said "In the last few years of his life, Elvis' calling (to be a preacher) was driving him crazy. That's why he was always singing Gospel songs, before concerts, during concerts and all night after concerts".



Oh Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder,

Consider all the worlds Thy hands have made.

I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,

Thy power throughout the universe displayed


When Christ shall come with shout of acclamation

To take me home, what joy shall fill my heart

Then I shall bow in humble adoration And there proclaim my God how great Thou art Chorus


Then sings my soul my saviour God to Thee

How great Thou art

How great Thou art

Then sings my soul my saviour God to Thee

How great Thou art

How great Thou art

How great Thou art how great Thou art

These verses are also part of the hymn, but were not sung by Elvis:

When though the woods and forest glades I wander,

And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees,

When I look down from lofty mountain grandeur,

And hear the brook and feel the gentle breeze


And when I think, that God, his son not sparing,

Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in -

That on the cross my burden gladly bearing,

He bled and died to take away my sin



Madeleine Wilson, part of a presentation at the Inaugural Elvis Presley Convention held in Canberra, Australia on Sunday, 28 November 2004

Feature interviews for November
Paul Simpson
Ed Bonja (Part 2)
Ed Bonja
Ernst Jorgensen
Phil Aitcheson (Presley Commission)
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Elvis Odd Spot (updated 17 Nov 2004)