The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


How great the favorites

Soloist George Beverly Shea has been linked with Billy Graham for decades as the evangelist's soloist. But here's an unlikely duo: Shea and Elvis Presley.

In an interview for his book, the 95-year-old recalls how he changed the words of How Great Thou Art from "consider all the works thy hands have made" to "consider all the worlds thy hands have made" and "I hear the mighty thunder" to "I hear the rolling thunder."

"I got a bang when I used to hear Elvis Presley sing my two words," says Shea, whose alterations from 1955 have endured.

In March, Tyndale House published How Sweet the Sound: Amazing Stories and Grace-filled Reflections on Beloved Hymns and Gospel Songs. When asked for his favorite hymn, Shea says it's not a fair question but does admit, "I have not tired of How Great Thou Art."

That hymn is among the favorites for ELCA members too. Participants in the ELCA Renewing Worship hymn survey chose How Great Thou Art, among many, as "essential" when it comes to choosing music for future worship resources.

The 629 out of 886 randomly selected congregations that completed the survey also designated such favorites as Joy to the World; Jesus Christ Is Risen Today; A Mighty Fortress Is Our God; Holy, Holy, Holy; Beautiful Savior; Amazing Grace; The Church's One Foundation; Lift High the Cross; and Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee.


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February issue


Embracing diversity