‘How Great Thou Art’: How Randy Travis, Alan Jackson & Carrie Underwood Each Made the Hymn Great
“How Great Thou Art” has been recorded by a number of country artists over the years, including Randy Travis, Carrie Underwood, Alan Jackson, Wynonna, The Statler Brothers, Dolly Parton, Martina McBride, Josh Turner, and more.
Along with “Amazing Grace,” “It Is Well,” “How Firm a Foundation,” and more, “How Great Thou Art” is one of the most recognizable gospel hymns of all time.
Carl Gustav Boberg, a 26-year-old Swedish pastor, penned “How Great Thou Art” in 1885. Inspired by a thunderstorm that swept across his view, Boberg was overwhelmed by the power and majesty of the subsequent calm. “How Great Thou Art” was born. Eventually, the song was translated into German and Russian. British missionary Stuart Keen Hine translated it into English and added a third verse in the 1930s.
Let’s take a look—and a listen—at versions of “How Great Thou Art” by Randy Travis, Alan Jackson, and Carrie Underwood.
Randy Travis was a force on the country charts in 1980s and 1990s with hits like “On the Other Hand,” “Forever and Ever, Amen,” “Deeper Than the Holler,” and more. In 2000, Randy shifted gears and released a string of gospel/inspirational albums, including Inspirational Journey (2000), Rise and Shine (2002), Worship & Faith (2003), Passing Through (2004), Glory Train (2005), and Songs of the Season (2007).
Randy recorded “How Great Thou Art” for his 2003 album, Worship & Faith. The album has been certified Gold by the RIAA for sales of 500,000 units. It is one of Randy’s two Gold albums outside of the country genre.
Alan Jackson returned to the gospel songs he loved as a child in Newnan, Georgia, by releasing Precious Memories in 2006. The album featured Alan’s renditions of “I’ll Fly Away,” “In the Garden,” “How Great Thou Art,” and more.
Alan recorded the album as a gift for his mother. The 15-song collection has been certified Platinum by the RIAA for sales of 1 million units. Precious Memories also reached No. 1 on both the Billboard Top Country Albums chart and the Top Christian Albums chart. In addition, Alan released Precious Memories Volume II in 2013.
Carrie Underwood released her first gospel album, My Savior, on March 26, 2021. The 13-song offering featured “Amazing Grace,” “The Old Rugged Cross,” “How Great Thou Art,” and more. However, Carrie initially recorded “How Great Thou Art” for the 2011 album, Gospel Favorites From the Grand Ole Opry.
“I grew up going to church and singing out of a hymn book,” said Carrie in 2011. “And songs like ‘How Great Thou Art’ are things that I grew up loving and listening to. That’s how I felt spiritual in church—by singing songs like these.”