Saturday, March 28, 2020

Hymns of Hope: Great is thy Faithfulness

"It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is Thy faithfulness."
- Lamentations 3:22-23

A lot of hymns are born following a traumatic experience by the writer. Horatio Spafford, for instance, wrote the words to "It Is Well with My Soul" after the tragic death of his children in a shipwreck. But, some hymns merely spring up in the midst of the daily routine. Such is the case in the writing of "Great Is Thy Faithfulness," one of the greatest hymns of the 20th century.

Thomas O. Chisholm was born in Franklin, Kentucky in 1866. He was teaching school by the age of 16 and then became editor of the local newspaper. Beginning in 1903, he was a Methodist minister, but only for a short time as his health began to decline.

In 1923, Chisolm sent a collection of his poems William Runyan, a musician with Moody Bible Institute, who also worked for a hymnal publishing company. He was immediately taken in by the depth of meaning and lyrical beauty of the words found in "Great Is Thy Faithfulness," which Chisolm had written in 1893. He prayed his tune might carry over its message in a worthy way, and it certainly did. Yet, it was slow to catch on in churches until Billy Graham began to include it in his crusades. Click on the link provided to you in this story to listen to a beautiful arrangement of this 'Hymn of Hope' by the Victor Voices in Billy Graham's Crusade Favorites, directed by Cliff Barrows (1966).

"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"

Tiffany Jothen of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association wrote that Chisholm could have easily given up and lived a life of discouragement throughout his years of poor health, but he didn't. This song is a testimony to the way God carried him through hard times, just like He does for us. She said, "It’s a reminder that we aren’t forgotten. That God is consistent. That He provides 'strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow.'”

A special thanks to Regina Scott for letting me use her beautiful photograph.

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