The composer of today’s hymn, Great Is Thy Faithfulness, claimed to have had no special inspiration for writing it, other than his day-by-day walk with Christ and the truth of the scriptures. This hymn, set to music by William M. Runyan, became Thomas Chisholm’s most beloved and well known.
Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father!
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not; Thy compassions, they fail not:
As thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.
Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
all I have needed Thy hand hath provided—
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me.
Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest,
sun, moon and stars in their courses above,
join with all nature in manifold witness
to Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.
Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide,
strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow—
blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside.
Thomas Obadiah Chisholm
Thomas Obadiah Chisholm was born in Franklin, Kentucky on July 29, 1866 to parents James Washington and Lucy Chisholm. At the age of sixteen, Thomas became a teacher and later edited the local newspaper, The Franklin Favorite. His mother passed away in 1890 and in 1893, at the age of twenty-seven, Thomas accepted Christ as his Savior at a revival meeting held by Dr. H.C. Morrison.
Dr. Morrison invited Thomas to join him in Louisville as the editor of his magazine, the Pentecostal Herald. At the age of thirty-six, Thomas was ordained as a Methodist minister, and in 1903 he married Catherine Hambright Vandervere. Their first child, Ruth Elizabeth, was born in 1905 and their second child, Dorothy, was born in 1907.
His health began to fail and Thomas was forced to resign his pastorate after serving only a brief time. The family moved to Winona Lake, Indiana and later to Vineland, New Jersey where Thomas worked as an insurance agent for the remainder of his career.
In 1923 Thomas wrote Great Is Thy Faithfulness and submitted it to William M. Runyan of the Moody Bible Institute. Runyan later remarked about the tune he composed, “This particular poem held such an appeal that I prayed most earnestly that my tune might carry its message in a worthy way, and the subsequent history of its use indicates that God answered prayer.”
Even though Thomas Chisholm had health issues during his life and struggled financially, he remained faithful. In 1941 he wrote, “My income has not been large at any time due to impaired health in the earlier years which has followed me on until now. Although I must not fail to record here the unfailing faithfulness of a covenant-keeping God and that He has given me many wonderful displays of His providing care, for which I am filled with astonishing gratefulness.”
In 1953, at the age of eighty-seven, Thomas retired and lived in the Methodist Home for the Aged in Ocean Grove, New Jersey until his death on February 29, 1960 at the age of ninety-four. Catherine had preceded him in death in 1954. During his lifetime Thomas wrote over twelve hundred poems, with some eight hundred published in various religious periodicals. Regarding the poems he penned he said, “I have sought to be true to the Word, and to avoid flippant and catchy titles and treatment. I have greatly desired that each hymn or poem might have some definite message to the hearts for whom it was written.”
By the way, in case you missed yesterday’s Surname Saturday article about the Chisholm surname, you can read it here.
Have a GREAT day . . . someday it will be HISTORY!
© Sharon Hall (Digging History), 2014.