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 A Hymn History

“The Wonder of it All”

by George Beverly Shea, 1909-2013

What many Christians need today is a rebirth of wonder and awe.  We know the gospel intellectually, but it seldom reaches our emotions and will.  We take the incarnation, resurrection, ascension, the indwelling Holy Spirit, and the eternal reign of Christ merely as theological concepts without letting them grip our inmost being.  And the wonder that this great God knows, loves and cares for us doesn’t often thrill us as it should.  We even become very blasé when we witness a life that has been dramatically transformed by the love of God.  Our spiritual condition can be likened to those Christians at the church in Laodicea mentioned in Revelation 3:14-22: “neither cold nor hot” – just lukewarm.  We need to recapture the wonder of it all.

George Beverly Shea, one of the all-time favorite gospel singers, gives this account of the writing of this hymn in his book Songs That Lift the Heart:

England figures in the story behind this hymn written in 1955.  I was on my way to Scotland for meetings there aboard the S.S. United States bound for Southampton when inspiration came from conversation with another passenger.  He wanted to know what went on at our meetings and after detailing the sequence of things at a typical Billy Graham crusade meeting, I found myself at a loss for words when I tried to describe the response that usually accompanied Mr. Graham’s invitation to become a Christian.  “What happens then never becomes commonplace…watching people by the hundreds come forward…oh, if you could just see the wonder of it all.”

“I think I should,” he answered.  Then he wrote these words on a card and handed it back to me: THE WONDER OF IT ALL.  

“That sounds like a song to me.”  Later that night, I wrote words on that theme and roughed out a melody to go with them.