Growing up, I was often awoken on Sunday mornings to the song “How Great thou Art” playing from our large record player. It was definitely not how I wanted to wake up as a kid on Sunday morning, especially as loudly as it was playing, but it was a ritual for my father.
He liked that hymn, and he particularly like Elvis, so when he found the Elvis version, he was in heaven. He never told me why he liked that song so much, and I wish he would have, because he is gone now and can’t tell me for himself.
My father passed away on Dec. 25, 2017, and at his funeral, he requested this song during his service. For a long time, I didn’t fully appreciate this song because it wasn’t my style of music, but if you sit back and really read it, you can hear a deep faith.
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
Then sings my soul, my Savior God to Thee
How great Thou art, how great Thou art
He was never one to share his faith with me, but he has shared a great deal of his faith through this song. Faith is such a personal aspect of our lives, and it can be very difficult to share why we believe what we do. I know this was true for my father. But, through this song, I am getting a better understanding of the depth of his faith. I wish he were here today to share his faith with me.
I wish he were here today to help me understand his thoughts on a variety of issues.
My father’s life wasn’t easy, and I am sure I contributed to that a little, but every Sunday morning, before church, that song was played on the large record player, and he loved it.
If there is one thing I want you to learn from my relationship with my father, it is to have deep conversations on topics that matter to your parents. I have been processing my father’s death for a number of years, and recently hearing this song, especially the following stanza, has helped to ease my heart.
When Christ shall come with shouts of acclamation
And 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"
Passing on our faith is more than just going to church. It is also talking about topics that are difficult or hard in the effort to ensure everyone’s thoughts are understood.
For a fairly quiet man on faith to leave me this song is a gift, and I hope this story is a gift to encourage you to have this conversation with your parents.
Mark Nuehring is director of faith formation at Saint Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Rochester. "From the Pulpit" runs on the Saturday faith pages and features reflections from area religious leaders. To contribute, contact Life Editor Meredith Williams at 701-429-1749 or email@example.com.