Posted by: rcottrill | July 29, 2010

Today in 1866 – Thomas Chisholm Born

Thomas Obediah Chisholm was born in Kentucky, and educated in a country schoolhouse–where he himself became the teacher at the age of 16! For awhile, he worked as a reporter and the associate editor of a newspaper in Louisville. Then, after becoming a Christian, Chisholm became a pastor, but ill health soon forced his resignation. For most of his adult life he worked as an insurance salesman. He died on February 29th of 1960 (a leap year).

A humble man, Tom Chisholm sometimes described himself as “just an old shoe,” but he blessed the Christian community again and again with his writing–over 1200 poems and hymns in all. Among the best known of the latter are:

Great Is Thy Faithfulness
He Was Wounded for Our Transgressions
Living for Jesus
O to Be Like Thee
Trust in the Lord

Great Is Thy Faithfulness was written in 1923, and it soon became the unofficial school hymn of Moody Bible Institute, in Chicago. The theme is based on the words of the prophet Jeremiah, “His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness” (Lam. 3:22-23).

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 will 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!

Chisholm’s hymn Trust in the Lord is loosely based on Prov. 3:5-6. It says,

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
This is God’s gracious command;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
So shall you dwell in the land.

Trust in the Lord, O troubled soul,
Rest in the arms of His care;
Whatever your lot, it mattereth not,
For nothing can trouble you there;
Trust in the Lord, O troubled soul,
Nothing can trouble you there.

(2) Today in 1957 – William Runyan Died
William Marion Runyan was a pastor and evangelist, with an outstanding musical gift. (He served as a church organist at the age of 12!) Among his work on other songs, Runyan supplied the tune for Chisholm’s Great Is Thy Faithfulness, and for God Hath Not Promised, a poem of Annie Johnson Flint’s. He also wrote words and music for some hymns, such as Lord, I Have Shut the Door, a great prayer hymn that emphasizes the need for personal fellowship with God.

Lord, I have shut the door, speak now the word
Which in the din and throng could not be heard;
Hushed now my inner heart, whisper Thy will,
While I have come apart, while all is still.


  1. Sorry, Somehow my message was sent before being finished.

    Here’s the words to T. O. Chisholm’s hymn, “It Is Jesus”

    1. Behold! One cometh in the way, In humble garments clad; The poorest of the poor is He, No pillow for His head. The hungry, weary, sick and sad! In crowds about Him press – – To ev’ry one He gives relief. What manner of man is this?

    2. What word of truth and grace He speaks, Ne’er heard on earth before: The burdened sinner hears that voice, And feels His sins no more. He calls the dead to life again, Bids winds and billows cease, – None other man such works hat done. What manner of man is this?

    3. They lead Him forth to Calvary, O see Him bleed and die! His parched lips are p leading now for those who crucify! His head is bowed, the cup has passed, His Spirit finds release. He suffered thus for you and me, What manner of man is this?

    4. But lo! what wondrous thing is done? The grave has lost its dead! To weeping ones He re- appears, When all their hopes had fled. He lingers but a little while, to comfor and to bless; The Heav’ns receive Him from their sight, – What manner of man is this?

    CHORUS: It is Jesus, it is Jesus, The Man of Galilee; It is Jesus, blessed Jesus, Who died on Calvary.

    I’ve so enjoyed just reading and re-reading these wonderful words and have wondered what what happening in T. O. Chisholms life that brought this wonderful story forth. Any thoughts?


    • No, sorry. At the moment I can’t find anything on this song. One of Chisholm’s more obscure offerings I guess. He had about 800 poems published, and many of them were used as song texts. But likely most were published in one book and then forgotten.

  2. […] More info on Thomas Chisolm. […]

  3. I linked back here from my “Great is Thy Faithfulness” blog post. I hope it’s okay?

    • No problem. Glad to see another link. Your reference to the Lamentations passage reminded me of a poem by Annie Johnson Flint…”New Every Morning.” Do you know it. Here it is:

      Yea, “new every morning,” though we may awake,
      Our hearts with old sorrow beginning to ache;
      With old work unfinished when night stayed our hand,
      With new duties waiting, unknown and unplanned;
      With old care still pressing, to fret and to vex,
      With new problems rising, our minds to perplex;
      In ways long familiar, in paths yet untrod,
      Oh, new every morning the mercies of God!

      His faithfulness fails not; it meets each new day
      With guidance for every new step of the way;
      New grace for new trials, new trust for old fears,
      New patience for bearing the wrongs of the years,
      New strength for new burdens, new courage for old,
      New faith for whatever the day may unfold;
      As fresh for each need as the dew on the sod;
      Oh, new every morning the mercies of God!

  4. What a coincidence! I just played Living for Jesus by Thomas O. Chishom:

    • Good to hear from you. Tom Chisholm has given us a number of fine songs. My favourite is “Great Is Thy Faithfulness.”

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