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Great Is Thy Faithfulness

Great is thy faithfulness 
Great is thy faithfulness 
Morning by morning new mercies I see
All have needed thy hand has provided
Great is thy faithfulness
Lord unto me.

The words of some hymns spring not from a traumatic occurrence in the writer’s life but in the midst of the daily routine. That was the case in the writing of one of the 20th century’s most loved hymns, Great is Thy Faithfulness. It was simply the result of the author’s morning by morning realization of God’s personal faithfulness.

Thomas Obadiah Chisholm was born in a log cabin in Kentucky in 1866. Without the benefit of high school or advanced training, he began his career as a school teacher at the age of sixteen, in the same country schoolhouse where he had received his elementary training.

When he was twenty-one, he became the associate editor of his home town weekly newspaper, The Franklin Favorite. Six years later he accepted Christ as his personal Savior during a revival meeting.

Later Chisholm was ordained to the Methodist ministry but was forced to resign after a brief pastorate because of poor health. Chisholm retired in 1953 and spent his remaining years at the Methodist Home for the Aged, in Ocean Grove, New Jersey until his death in 1960.

A prolific writer of poetry, he sent a collection of his poems in 1923 to his good friend William Runyan, a musician associated with Chicago’s Moody Bible Institute, who also worked for a hymnal publishing company.

Due to Runyan’s association with Moody Bible Institute, “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” became a favorite with the students and faculty alike and has become the Institute’s unofficial college hymn.

Yet, it was slow to catch on in churches across the United States until Billy Graham began to include the hymn in his crusades. It was introduced to the people of Great Britain during Graham’s crusade there in 1954 and has since become one of England’s most popular hymns.

In a letter dated 1941, Mr. Chisholm wrote; “My income has not been large at any time due to impaired health in the earlier years which has followed me until now, although I must not fail to record the unfailing faithfulness of a covenant-keeping God, for which I am filled with astonishing gratefulness.”

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