Thomas Obadiah Chisholm was born July 29, 1866, in a log cabin in Franklin, Kentucky. With only an elementary education, he became a schoolteacher at the age of 16 in the same country schoolhouse he had attended.
At the age of 27, he found Christ during revival meetings held by evangelist Henry Clay Morrison and began writing sacred poems, many of which became popular hymns still sung today.
Thomas’ health was unstable and he lived his life in bouts of illness.
He worked five years as the editor of the local paper in Franklin, as the business manager and office editor of the Pentecostal Herald in Louisville, Kentucky, and as a life insurance agent in Winona Lake and later in Vineland, New Jersey.
Thomas was ordained as a Methodist minister, and in 1903, entered the ministry of the Methodist Episcopal Church South, but a year later was forced to resign due to poor health.
Through all the ups and downs of his life, he discovered that God was faithful, with new blessings every morning. Lamentations 3:22, 23 became very precious to him:
“His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.”
There is no dramatic story behind the writing of this beautiful hymn, just a recognition of God’s faithfulness to man when we put our trust and our lives wholly in Him.
While serving the Lord in Vineland, New Jersey, Thomas sent several poems to his friend, musician William Runyan. William was so moved by this one poem that he prayed that the Lord would give him special guidance in the composition of the music. The hymn was published in 1923.
Thomas Chisholm wrote 1,200 sacred poems in all. He retired in 1953 and spent his remaining years at the Methodist Home for the Aged in Ocean Grove, New Jersey, where he died on February 29, 1960, at the age of 94.
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.
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!
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.
Sources: hymnary.org; Wikipedia