Last summer I was in the mountains in Swedish Lapland and came upon a chapel at the top of a hill, with a view toward Sweden’s Mount Kebnekaise. The clouds had been blocking the view all morning but chose that moment to part – and I felt an overwhelming sense that I was exactly where I should be.

This song came to mind, and I stood there singing it for nobody other than the trees, right there in the wilderness (the cameras followed me there a little while later). I didn’t know at the time that How Great Thou Art was based on a traditional Swedish melody, and the lyrics as we know them were written by a Swede named Carl Boberg. Carl Boberg was born in 1859, making him a contemporary of my Swedish great-great grandparents who emigrated to America, Elna Persdottir and Anders Olsson.

I learned all of this when I returned home, and I decided that you can’t fight providence. It inspired me to learn to sing O Store Gud in Swedish and add it to a recital I performed a couple of months after I returned home. I had about three weeks in which to learn to sing in Swedish for this performance. And when it was done, I wanted to continue learning more so I enrolled in Swedish classes.

Thank you Sweden, for inspiring me. I only hope I didn’t completely butcher your language.


The full behind-the-scenes post about episode 5 will be posted in a few days.