The powerful worship song ‘How Great is Our God’ has become a popular staple in many churches and an anthem of praise to God. With its memorable melody and deeply meaningful lyrics, this song never fails to inspire awe and gratitude towards our mighty Creator.
If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: The song ‘How Great is Our God’ was written by Chris Tomlin, Jesse Reeves, and Ed Cash in 2004.
In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the origins of this influential song – from its inception to the theological significance behind its lyrics. We will also learn more about the professional songwriters behind it and analyze what has made ‘How Great is Our God’ so well-loved over the past two decades.
The Songwriters Behind ‘How Great is Our God’
Chris Tomlin – Grammy Award-winning Christian artist
Chris Tomlin is a prolific Grammy Award-winning contemporary Christian music artist and worship leader. He has released 16 studio albums, including his latest in 2022 titled Always. Tomlin is known for writing popular modern worship anthems like “How Great Is Our God,” “Our God,” and “Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone).”
According to AllMusic, Tomlin has over 7 million albums sold and has achieved more number one singles on the Billboard Christian Songs chart than any other artist. He has been awarded 23 GMA Dove Awards, Grammy Awards for Best Contemporary Christian Music Album in 2012 and 2015, and was named Artist of the Year at the 2021 GMA Dove Awards.
Jesse Reeves – Veteran worship leader and songwriter
Jesse Reeves is a worship pastor, songwriter and producer based in Nashville, TN. He has written songs recorded by notable Christian artists like Chris Tomlin, Matt Redman, Passion Worship Band, Caedmon’s Call and more.
Reeves co-wrote the popular song “How Great Is Our God” with Chris Tomlin and Ed Cash.
According to AllMusic, Reeves’ discography as a songwriter includes over 58 credits. He has produced albums for Caedmon’s Call, The City Harmonic, and Derek Webb. Reeves serves on the board of Compassion International and continues to write, coach, mentor, disciple and pastor worship leaders and artists.
Ed Cash – Notable Christian music producer
Ed Cash is a Grammy-nominated record producer, recording engineer, musician and songwriter based in Nashville, TN. He runs a personal recording studio called Rocketown Studios and has produced notable artists like Chris Tomlin, Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith, Bebo Norman and more.
According to Discogs, Cash has 150 production, engineering and songwriting credits in his discography over the past 26 years. He has received 10 GMA Dove Award nominations, winning 4 times including Producer of the Year in 2009.
Cash co-wrote the song “How Great Is Our God” along with Chris Tomlin and Jesse Reeves which went on to become one of the most well-known modern worship songs.
Writing and Release of the Song in 2004
Composed for a youth conference in Florida
The popular Christian anthem “How Great Is Our God” was originally composed by Chris Tomlin in 2004 alongside his worship band Passion. They wrote it specifically for a student conference in Florida called Passion 2004, where over 35,000 university-aged Christians gathered for worship and teaching.
According to Tomlin, when writing the song, “We wanted to lift high and celebrate the greatness and glory of our God in response to who He is and all that He has done.” As a result, the lyrics highlight God’s attributes like His splendor, majesty, power, and holiness in a spirit of praise.
The melody builds dynamically alongside the growing lyrics to emotionally move the listener towards reverent worship.
Appeared on Chris Tomlin’s album ‘Arriving’
Later in 2004, Tomlin included the song on his album Arriving, expanding its reach to the wider contemporary Christian music world. It quickly became a chart-topping hit on Billboards Christian songs list, spending 52 weeks in the Top 10.
The album brought Tomlin much recognition, earning him a 2006 Dove Award for Praise & Worship Album of the Year.
Rapid increase in popularity in churches worldwide
“How Great Is Our God” spread like wildfire far beyond Tomlin’s albums in the following years. According to CCLI, by 2017, it was the second most reported song sung in churches globally. As of 2023, that number has skyrocketed to make it the most-sung worship song across denominations like Baptist, Methodist, Pentecostal, etc.
|#3 most sung worship song
|#2 most sung worship song
|#1 most sung worship song
The gospel-rich lyrics focusing purely on God Himself rather than us, paired with a dynamically building melody, create a recipe leading millions around the world into reverent yet celebration-filled worship, just as the writers intended back in 2004.
Lyrical Meaning and Theological Significance
Reflects on the majesty and wonder of God
The uplifting lyrics of “How Great is Our God” reflect deeply on the majesty, glory, and wonder of God. Written by Chris Tomlin, Jesse Reeves, and Ed Cash, the song marvels at God’s power displayed through creation and His acts in history.
References to the splendor of nature like mountains, oceans, and stars aim to evoke a sense of awe at God’s mighty handiwork. The song also touches on monumental biblical events like the parting of the Red Sea to emphasize God’s miraculous interventions for His people.
Beyond natural wonders and biblical stories, the lyrics explore God’s magnificence through rhetorical questions like “Who has held the oceans in His hands?” These questions prompt reflection on aspects of God’s character – His limitless power, matchless wisdom, astounding grace, and steadfast love.
Ultimately, the lyrics highlight that no one measures up to our great and glorious God.
Biblical references reinforce God’s greatness
The song draws richly from biblical references to substantiate its perspective on God’s greatness. Lines like “He is the King above all kings” echo Revelation 19:16 which depicts Christ returning as “King of kings and Lord of lords.”
Referring to the red sea parting alludes to Exodus 14 when God miraculously splits the sea to deliver the Israelites from the Egyptian army. These and other scriptural allusions throughout the lyrics use authoritative biblical sources to underscore the true magnificence of God.
Weaving in familiar biblical imagery also stirs up memories of beloved stories displaying God’s supremacy. Reminding listeners of God’s triumph over Pharaoh’s armies through the Red Sea, for example, renews a sense of God’s unlimited power and unwavering commitment to bring salvation.
Scripture references thereby reinforce the core message – the greatness of God surpasses everything.
Calls us to praise in word, song and life
In response to the awesome portrait of God’s greatness, the anthemic chorus issues a call to wholehearted praise. Raising a banner of worshipful proclamation, the lyrics urge, “My heart will sing / How great is our God!”
This anthem cry summons all creation to join in jubilant adoration of our glorious Savior through song.
Yet the call to magnify God’s greatness extends beyond lyrics to shape lifestyle. The song challenges us to live in light of God’s unmatched splendor by nurturing a heart of humility, gratitude, and reverence towards Him.
Recognizing the supremacy of Christ as Lord should spur us on to deeper love and obedience. Our work, relationships, priorities and habits should all echo: How great is our God!
Impact and Legacy Over the Past 20 Years
Became one of the most sung contemporary Christian songs
“How Great Is Our God” has truly become one of the most popular and influential worship songs of the past 20 years. After Chris Tomlin released it in 2004, the song quickly rose to prominence in churches and youth groups around the world.
Its beautiful melody and powerful lyrics made it a favorite of praise teams and congregations everywhere. Over time, it has been translated into numerous languages and sung by believers across denominations and cultures.
According to CCLI, “How Great Is Our God” has been one of the top 5 songs sang in churches for over a decade. As of 2022, it was still the #2 most reported song, with over 987,000 usages reported globally that year alone.
In the US, it has been in the top 10 worship songs every year since its release.
Translated into numerous languages globally
A major reason for the immense popularity of “How Great Is Our God” has been its translation into other languages. This has allowed Christians from all over the world to connect with its lyrics and themes.
Chris Tomlin’s publisher, worshiptogether.com reported in 2012 that the song had been translated into 44 languages by churches and individuals.
Some of the many translations include Spanish (“Cuan Grande Es Dios”), Portuguese (“Quão Grande é Deus”), German (“Wie Groß Bist Du”), Korean (“하나님은 크신 분”), Russian (“Велик Бог”), Swahili (“Bwana Uku Mkuu”) and many more. Its global reach reflects how the song resonates across cultures.
Inspired many believers in their walk with God
Most importantly, “How Great Is Our God” has impacted believers by inspiring and uplifting their faith over the years. Its lyrics magnify God’s greatness, power and love in a memorable way that helps people focus on God’s majesty.
Many Christians have shared how singing or listening to the song renews their awe of God and gives them encouragement. On YouTube, comments include: “This song never fails to bring me to tears of joy and gratitude,” “Listening when my faith feels weak – this song lifts my spirit,” and “Singing along makes me feel closer to God.”
Clearly it has helped strengthen and inspire many in their walk with the Lord.
Cover Versions That Reached New Audiences
Release by Passion worship band at conferences
The popular worship song “How Great Is Our God” was originally released in 2004 by Chris Tomlin on his album Arriving. However, it gained widespread popularity when Passion worship band began performing it at their conferences in the mid-2000s.
Led by Louie Giglio, the Passion conferences gathered tens of thousands of Christian college students for times of worship and teaching. When Passion started singing “How Great Is Our God” at these events, the song took off and became an anthem of praise and adoration in churches around the world.
Cece Winans version nominated for Grammy Awards
In 2011, gospel artist Cece Winans released a cover version of “How Great Is Our God” on her album The Destination. This soulful R&B rendition added new flavors to the modern hymn and introduced it to wider audiences.
Cece’s version gained mainstream recognition when it was nominated for two Grammy Awards – Best Gospel/Contemporary Christian Music Performance and Best Gospel Song. Though it didn’t win, the nominations helped further amplify the song’s reach and influence.
Influential covers by Newsboys, MercyMe and other groups
Over the years, various Christian artists have released their own renditions of “How Great Is Our God” that made an impact:
- Newsboys recorded an upbeat rock version on their worship album Adoration (2004).
- Popular band MercyMe included a moving piano-driven adaptation on The Generous Mr. Lovewell (2010).
- Sister duo Mary Mary brought their trademark R&B vibes to their cover on the WOW Gospel 2006 compilation.
- Rap artist Da’ T.R.U.T.H. put a hip hop spin on the anthem in his album The Whole Truth (2012).
These and other covers have allowed “How Great Is Our God” to resonate with diverse listeners, helping cement its status as a modern Christian music staple.
In the two decades since its debut, ‘How Great is Our God’ has dramatically shaped contemporary worship music. This gospel-centered song brilliantly gives voice to the wonder we feel when pondering the majesty of God.
As it continues to be sung in churches everywhere, we hope its soaring chorus and powerful lyrics will draw believers into deeper worship for years to come.