How Great Thou Art: Elvis Presley’s Gospel

There are not many rock ‘n’ roll stars who also created incredible gospel music, but then again, there is only one Elvis Presley.

Elvis shook the world with his infectious brand of rock ‘n’ roll, but he also took the world to church with his beautiful, soulful gospel music. Elvis loved traditional sacred music as much as he loved soul, country and rock – maybe even more so.

For Elvis, gospel music was the beginning. The first songs he ever sang were gospel songs at church in Tupelo, Mississippi, and he never stopped singing those hymns. He recorded gospel albums, sprinkled a few of his favorite hymns into his rock ‘n’ roll concerts and loved to sing old-time spirituals with his friends. His vast personal record collection included hundreds of vinyl gospel albums by the likes of the Blackwood Brothers, The Stamps Quartet, Mahalia Jackson and The Statesmen Quartet.

Elvis Presley How Great Thou Art

Elvis recorded “How Great Thou Art” during May 25-28, 1966.

Elvis’ take on the classic spiritual “How Great Thou Art” – whether recorded in the studio or performed on a stage in front of thousands – was always special and sacred. It was one of his favorites, and his performances are always reverent and powerful. Elvis’ daughter, Lisa, loved to hear her father sing it.

The first record of Elvis gospel music, entitled “His Hand in Mine,” was released in 1960. Elvis recorded his second gospel album, also titled “How Great Thou Art,” over four days in 1966. The Jordanaires backed him on the album, but due to a scheduling conflict, the group had to miss part of the recording sessions. The Imperials filled in for them, so Elvis had the pleasure of recording with two of his favorite gospel quartets on the same album.

“How Great Thou Art” was produced by Felton Jarvis. Elvis kept Felton on as his producer for the rest of his life. Ever generous, Elvis helped pay for a kidney transplant Felton needed in 1972.

“How Great Thou Art” won Elvis the first of his three Grammy wins. His third and final gospel album, “He Touched Me,” also won a Grammy Award.

Elvis Recorded Live On Stage in Memphis

“Elvis Recorded Live On Stage in Memphis,” was recorded at a March 20, 1974 concert.

Elvis’ third Grammy Award was also for his gospel music.

His live performance of “How Great Thou Art,” included on his “Elvis Recorded Live On Stage in Memphis,” won a Grammy Award in 1975.

While Elvis was invited to the Grammy Awards each year, he actually never attended. He earned 14 Grammy nominations, and each of his three wins were for his gospel music. Elvis was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 2001.

Many music fans watch the Grammy Awards on TV each year, but few have ever actually seen one of the prestigious awards in person. You can do just that at Elvis Presley’s Graceland.

Elvis Presley’s Grammy Awards

Many of Elvis’ awards – including his three Grammys – are on display at Graceland.

Fans love to walk the Hall of Gold at Graceland. It’s a stunning testimony to Elvis’ success and worldwide reach. The walls are lined with gold and platinum records from all over the world, and fans can see his Grammys there, too.

There are even more awards in the Racquetball Building at Graceland.

How Great Thou Art Certified Gold Record

Elvis’ “How Great Thou Art” was certified Gold on February 16, 1968, Platinum and Double Platinum on March 27, 1992 and Triple Platinum on October 13, 2010 by the RIAA.

Learn more about Elvis’ entire career, including his golden gospel career, at Elvis Presley’s Graceland.

Plan your visit today!


16 Comments

  1. Janet Montana

    My first introduction to Elvis’s music was this on an 8-track…I own several copies of this historical album .It’s such a masterpiece that took place in RCA’s Studio B.

  2. Bill Evans

    I was very fortunate to visit Graceland last year and it was the highlight of my visit to the states and being an Elvis fan of more years than I wish to recall I found it a very emotional experience not sure it will happen but I would love to do it again sometime in the near future

  3. Linda Gurule

    I love all of Elvis’smusic

  4. Melissa

    He is the king love all his music!!:)

  5. Tammy Hutson

    my all time favorite song nobody ever sang it better

  6. i love that song it makes my cry

  7. Janet Davies

    I love listening to Elvis sing gospel songs, he sings them with so much passion, but it’s only Elvis gospel music I listen to, no one else, he made gospel music appeal to everyone, and as far as I no, he’s the only singer to sing gospel songs in a concert

  8. I was wondering if you have cheaper tickets for my family PS let me know Joel Steficek

  9. Patricia

    I will always love Elvis for his gospel music. He sang from the bottom of his heart. I visited Graceland 5 yrs, ago. It is a special feeling that is wonderful.
    We never found it a money grab or out of this world expensive. I hope to go back!!!

  10. JOE MOSCHEO

    ….FROM what i heard,on the ‘How Great
    Thou Art’ album—RCA wanted a choir sound,
    so EP and Felton J. suggested using the Jords and the Imperisls w/a few female singers, and doubled them!! correct or NOT?

  11. Letitia Ryan

    Elvis’ music is amazing, especially his gospel music – it is very special. I was fortunate enough to see the three Grammy awards Elvis won for his gospel music when I visited Graceland in 2012. I hope to get there again one day. Elvis said gospel music put his mind at ease, I totally agree. Just listen to the man sing those songs, out of this world. xxx

  12. Karen Allen

    My Granddad introduced me to Elvis at 4 years old. I fell in love with Elvis and loved all of his music, especially his gospel creations. I was fortunate enough to see him in two concerts. He still lives on in our hearts.

  13. Judy Omohundro

    Elvis Gospel music resonates with with the passion of the person singing. He had such a beautiful and powerful voice and I feel it was meant to be used as an instrument to draw people to God.

  14. CHRIS GILL

    HI,
    ELVIS’S GOSPEL MUSIC IS VERY VERY SPECIAL TO ME, THERE IS AN HOLY SPIRIT ANOINTING ON ELVIS’S GOSPEL MUSIC, IT WOULD BE A REAL BLESSING AND A DREAM COME TRUE, TO BE ABLE TO COOK FOR THE PRESLEY’S AT GRACELAND AND HAVE A LIVE GOSPEL JAM, PLEASE TRY TO MAKE IT HAPPEN, ASK LISA, THANK YALL VERY MUCH, GOD BLESS, YOUR PARTNER FOR PROGRESS, CHRIS GILL (ROMANS 8:28)

  15. Pat Ramsay

    I absolutely love hearing Elvis sing How Great Thou Art live, stunning!

  16. Mariette Erasmus

    One of my all time favorite hymns song by Elvis is ” How great thou art.” If I am feeling low, I put one of his hymn albums on & it takes me out of the mood I am in. He was such a great singer & for that I will always be grateful he was part of my growing up years. Thank you to the Presley family for allowing us to share his memories.

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