How Great Thou Art, Elvis' second gospel album, had very different conceptions of gospel music on its two sides. The first side, including the title track and "In the Garden," was very high church, with hymnal readings and quietly burbling organ accompaniment. The second side was a far more exciting proposition, with an alternately rocking or swinging piano, some breakneck tempos, and the type of performances more apt to be heard at the gospel singing meetings held in Memphis during Elvis' early years than at church (or, at least, most churches). Fans who prefer either Elvis the crooner or Elvis the rocker will, likewise, have different feelings about each side. On the first, Elvis is full-throated and sincere; on the second, it's easy to picture him cracking a smile as he leads the quartet on "So High" and "By and By."
AllMusic Review by John Bush