Featuring in our worship 23rd January is Chris Tomlins How Great is our God.
In a Songfacts interview with Chris Tomlin, he talked about writing this song. Said Tomlin: “I wrote that song when I was living in Austin, Texas. I remember sitting on my sofa in my little apartment. And Psalm 104 was the psalm I was looking at. It said, ‘You our lord are very great. You’re clothed with splendor and majesty, wrap yourself with light as with a garment’ – through those opening verses and just describing a little bit of God, the glory of majesty, that little chorus came out. I started singing the chorus and, man, I had no idea, I thought the chorus was just a little simple thing and it was. And I had no idea it would become such a song in the church, and a song that finds its way in so many different cultures, different languages. It’s so transferrable, so accessible. I had no idea that it would ever become that.
I remember I had the song, I thought it was finished. I didn’t have a bridge to the song, and I met Ed Cash who produced that record it was on. First time meeting him and talking to him about maybe producing my new record. And I remember he picks his guitar up and says, ‘This ‘How Great is Our God’ song, I think it’s pretty good, but it’s not finished.’ And I’m like, ‘What are you talking about? Who do you think you are?’ And I remember him grabbing his guitar. I believe it was something about, ‘What if you do something like this?’ And I remember he just started singing, ‘You’re the name above all names, you are worthy of our praise.’ And it’s really good, but when you open up and let somebody else sneak in, it just makes it better. So that’s when we knew it was taking it to another level.”
One of Tomlin’s most popular songs, this won the awards for Song of the Year and Worship Song of the Year at the Dove Awards in 2006. The song has appeared on numerous compilation albums and was the title track to a live album recorded at the Passion Conference in 2005.
This song is often sung together with the hymn “How Great Thou Art.” Tomlin told Songfacts, “That song has such staying power. That song has been through many generations now of the church and it’s really cool when you hear those two together, they’re saying the same thing.”
Alan Mathew, organist at Bellshill’s Central Parish Church for the last 6 years is celebrating the 60th episode of the Organist Entertains series, which has put the town of Bellshill and his church on the map – with weekly online “Virtual Church” videos that have picked up audiences from all around the world.
Alan has played the church organ in various churches since 1996 with now 25 years experience of being an organist, Choir Director and Director of Church Music. Alan said “with churches closing due to COVID-19 and music basically ceasing, this online outlet and outreach has been both a lifeline to me and countless others. I found myself with little musical purpose but readjusted to online music and ministry, and have found new purpose and motivation to reach out online to a new “congregation” during Virtual Church with the Organist Entertains.”
Alan said: “During the Covid-19 pandemic we felt people needed to be kept connected to their church building and its surroundings. One of the ways to achieve this was have also been producing a weekly series called” THE ORGANIST ENTERTAINS” that had received over 30,000 views from around the world from as far away as Australia, Canada, South Africa. Indonesia and the United States of America.
The milestone 50th Golden Episode had over 500 live viewers! And was seen as the pinnacle of the series, but with lockdown conditions not fully lifted the Diamond Episode is a further step towards the 100th anniversary!
The series showcases what is undoubtedly Bellshill’s finest pipe organ, an honour that the church at 346 Main Street takes seriously. Around 5 years ago a £38, 000 refurbishment project took place to preserve the sounds from the 1930 instrument, by the Hilsdon Organ Company which was based in Glasgow.
As well as organist, Alan is a board member and trustee of the Church. During Lockdown and the physical closure of the Central building Alan has produced and edited each weekly online service, produced the annual Time to Remember service and complied the Church’s magazine – The Lockdown Chronicle. As well as being a weekly event with the Organist Entertains, and being a wonderful morale boost to many, the organ AND Alan have helped raise over £700 to church funds with an organ marathon held on 1st May, when he attempted to play has many hymns as possible. He achieved 314 hymns! Alan said “I am humbled and grateful to the folks that sponsored and donated towards the Hymnathon on 1st May. It was a wonderfully connected day, as the event was live streamed. It was a delight to chat virtually with those in attendance online.”
Alan goes on to say that” the Organist Entertains series will continue for the foreseeable future in its current format. Once church reopens (hopefully that will not be before too long!) the Organist Entertains will still keep going, perhaps not weekly pre-recorded episodes but moving to a monthly online broadcast. “
Join with Bellshill Central Parish Church on Wednesday 19th May at 8pm for the 60th instalment from Alan (aka the Maestro) and the finest pipe organ in ML4. All episodes are available and broadcast via the churches YouTube channel.