One of my favorite hymns is "Great Is Thy Faithfulness". The words speak to the character of God which is unchanging, and in our ever changing day to day life, this is so reassuring. To know that we have a God who will never leave us nor forsake us has been the hope of many during times of suffering and loss. Certainly, this was the situation for the writer of this hymn.
Thomas Obadiah Chisholm was born in a log cabin in Franklin, Kentucky in 1866. He had a difficult adult life due to fragile health. He was often unable to work as he was confined to bed from time to time; thus he had to push himself to work extra hours in order to make enough to live on.
When he was 27 years old, he gave his life to Christ and found tremendous comfort in the Scriptures. He knew God was faithful to provide for his needs, and one of his favorite verses came from Lamentations 3:22-24 which reads: "Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning, great is Your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, ‘Therefore I hope in Him!”
At the age of thirty six, Chisholm became a pastor. Sadly, he could only serve in this capacity for a year as his health again became an issue. He took another job as a life insurance salesman, but his devotion to the Lord grew as he wrote 1,200 poems which included several published hymns.
While Thomas was away on a missions trip, he happened to write to a friend of his, William Runyan who was a little known musician at the time. Several of the poems that Thomas Chisholm wrote were exchanged in the letters while he was away and one stood out to Runyan. He was so moved by the poem that he wrote a musical score to accompany it. As a result, "Great Is Thy Faithfulness" was published in 1923.
This hymn was not an instant success, but eventually became popular when George Beverly Shea began singing it during Billy Graham Crusades in 1945. Little did Thomas Chisholm know that even though he had to give up the pulpit ministry he was still able to minister through the words he had written to encourage others. Mr. Chisholm died in 1960 at the age of 94 and left the world a testimony to the faithfulness of God.
Reading stories about hymn writers puts life into the songs that we share in worship. This man did not have an easy life and could easily have lapsed into depression or self-pity. However, the key to his joy was found in a relationship to Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. This should speak volumes to us because none of us is immune from loss, sorrow, sickness or other troubles in this world. We can either wallow in sadness or find comfort in God's Word as Thomas Chisholm did. As we read the words to this hymn, let us rejoice in the faithfulness of God who daily meets our needs and gives us great hope for tomorrow. Selah!
Great Is Thy Faithfulness
Thomas Chisholm – 1925
Great Is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father!
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Though 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!