Great Is Thy Faithfulness

Author – Thomas O Chisholm, 1866-1960
Composer – William M Runyan, 1870 – 1957

Thomas Obadiah Chisholm was born in a humble log cabin in Franklin, Kentucky. Without the benefit of high school or advanced training, he began his career as a school teacher at the age of 16 in the same country school 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 meetings conducted in Franklin by Dr. H. C. Morrison.Later he was ordained to the ministry but was forced to resign after a brief pastorate because of poor health. After 1909 he became a life insurance agent.

Mr. Chisholm wrote more than 1200 poems, many of which appeared frequently in such religious periodicals as the Sunday School times, Moody Monthly, Alliance Weekly and others. A number of these poems have become prominent hymn texts.

In a letter dated 1941, Mr. Chisholm writes, “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 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 1923 Mr. Chisholm sent several of his poems to the Rev. W.M. Runyan, a musician associated with the Moody Bible Institute and an editor with Hope Publishing Company until his death July 29, 1957. Mr. Runyan has written as follows:

This particular poem held such an appeal that I prayed most earnestly that my tune might carry over its message in a worthy way, and the subsequent history of it use indicates that God answered prayer. It was written in Baldwin, Kansas, in 1923, and was first published in my private song pamphlets.

This hymn was the favorite of the late Dr. Will Houghton, former beloved president of the Moody Bible Institute. It has since been an all-time favorite with students at the school and as a result its usefulness has spread to evangelistic churches everywhere. George Beverly Shea states that this hymn was first introduced to audiences in Great Britian in 1954 by the Billy Graham Crusades and has since been a favorite there was well.

Thomas Chisholm is also the author of the hymns, “Living For Jesus” and “O To Be Like Thee”.

Taken from 101 Hymn Stories @ Copyright1982, 2012 by Kenneth W. Osbeck. Published by Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, MI. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.