How Great Thou Art is the eighth studio album by Elvis Presley, released by RCA Victor in mono and stereo in February 1967. Recording sessions took place at RCA Studio B in Nashville, Tennessee, on May 25, 26, 27, and 28, 1966. It peaked at No. 18 on the Top Pop Albums chart. It was certified Gold on February 16, 1968, Platinum and 2x Platinum on March 27, 1992 and 3x Platinum on October 13, 2010 by the RIAA. It won a Grammy Award for 1967 in the Best Sacred Performance category.
His previous gospel album His Hand in Mine had been a solid catalog seller for RCA. While Presley faced difficulty getting radio airplay in the mid-1960s, during that decade radio stations played Christmas music at Christmas-time and religious music at Easter, and Presley's manager, Colonel Tom Parker, was convinced Presley could break through in these niche markets. So, recording sessions were arranged with the purpose of producing a Christmas single and a follow-up LP to His Hand in Mine.
How Great Thou Art would in fact be Presley's first non-soundtrack album recording of new material since Pot Luck with Elvis in 1962, and his first album release not to include any soundtrack recordings since the previous gospel album in 1960. It also introduced producer Felton Jarvis to Presley on the singer's second non-soundtrack sessions since May 1963. Jarvis would continue to work with Presley for the remainder of his career.
As the sessions progressed, Elvis rejected many of the planned songs for which Freddy Bienstock had obtained publishing deals, and began picking favorites of his own and those of the musicians. The five songs in the public domain were credited as "arranged by Elvis Presley" and published by Elvis Presley Music allowing Bienstock to secure the royalties for those selections. In fact, it is likely that an engaged and enthusiastic Presley indeed did the arrangements, as he certainly did with the title song, his months of practice at home on his beloved gospel songs paying off.
Twelve tracks were completed for the album, including the standards "In the Garden" from 1912 popularized by Billy Sunday and "Run On" from the jubilee tradition. The 13th track, "Crying in the Chapel," had been recorded during the sessions for His Hand in Mine and released as a single in 1965. The sessions also produced the single "Love Letters", two b-sides, and two additional songs that would be added to the Spinout album. The Christmas single would be completed, a composition by Memphis Mafia mainstay Red West "If Every Day Was Like Christmas", at the next session on June 10.
The church and its steeple featured on the cover is that of the First Church of Christ, located in Sandwich, Massachusetts.
In 2008, Sony Music reissued for compact disc a remastered version of the album with three bonus tracks. Two had been released as a single in 1968, the hit side Presley's stab at "You'll Never Walk Alone" from Carousel barely making the Billboard Hot 100, with the third track a leftover from the sessions at American Sound Studio in 1969 and issued on a budget album in 1971.
The album was re-released in 2010 on the FTD label as a two-disc set with outtakes.
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