Posted by: rcottrill | August 5, 2010

Today in 1869 – Grant Tullar Born

Grant Colfax Tullar was named after American president Ulysses S. Grant, and was given the middle name Colfax after Schuyler Colfax, the vice president at the time. His mother died when he was two, and he was raised by relatives who were anything by supportive. As a child, he worked in a woolen mill, and sold shoes as a teen-ager. At the age of 19 Tullar put his faith in Christ and, though he had only a couple of years of formal schooling, he eventually entered the ministry.

Tullar was a pastor for a short time, but soon turned his attention to evangelism and a music ministry. He served as a song leader, also writing many gospel songs, either supplying the tunes for the work of others, or writing the texts himself. At the age of 27 he became the co-founder of the successful Tullar-Meredith Publishing Company, which produced many hymnals and gospel song books.

The hymn for which Mr. Tullar is best known today has an interesting origin. In 1898, he agreed to help a local pastor conduct evangelistic meetings. On a particular afternoon, he, along with the pastor and his wife, spent some hours visiting the sick. They returned to the manse to have a quick supper before the evening meeting. To save time, his hostess simply placed a number of leftovers on the table, inviting all to make a meal of them.

Knowing Tullar’s fondness for a particular kind of jam, and seeing there was only a little left, the couple passed the container on to him. “So this is all for me?” he said. And as soon as the words were out of his mouth, he was struck with a sudden inspiration. Excusing himself, he walked to the piano and improvised a pretty tune, while singing,

All for me the Saviour suffered,
All for me He bled and died…

The pastor expressed his delight with the song, asking to use it at the evening meeting. But the composer said it needed more work.

Then with the next morning’s mail, an envelope arrived for the musician. In it was a letter from Carrie Breck, along with some poems she had written. She wanted to know if he could provide music to go with any of them. As Grant Tullar started to read the first poem, he realized immediately it fit the tune he had written the night before. And it was a perfect fit. The hymn resulting from a nearly empty jam jar,and a letter from a stranger,  is Face to Face, about the joy of the saints in one day meeting the Saviour.

Face to face with Christ, my Saviour,
Face to face–what will it be,
When with rapture I behold Him,
Jesus Christ who died for me?

Face to face I shall behold Him,
Far beyond the starry sky;
Face to face in all His glory,
I shall see Him by and by!

Only faintly now I see Him,
With the darkling veil between,
But a blessèd day is coming,
When His glory shall be seen.

(2) He Who Safely Keepeth (Data Missing)
In the Living Hymns hymnal, the text of this song is credited to Lyman Cuyler. There is no data available on him, because, as far as I know, he never existed! This is one of the dozens of pen names used by well-known hymn writer Fanny Crosby. Alfred Smith has supplied a singable tune. You can find the full hymn with the tune in Living Hymns (#431).

This encouraging song is based upon the words of Psalm 121:3, “He who keeps you will not slumber.” Other watchmen may grow careless and fall asleep, but the Lord never will. He keeps His eyes on His children and is attentive to their cries.

He, who safely keepeth,
Slumbers not, nor sleepeth;
Though by all the world forsaken,
Wherefore should I fear?
That which He hath spoken
Never can be broken,
Who shall harm the trusting heart
When He is near?

He will keep me ever,
Where no pow’r can sever
From my heart, the love that hides me
In His secret place.
There in faith abiding,
All to Him confiding,
Through His Spirit I am sealed
An heir of grace.


  1. […] is likely her best known song. (For the unusual story of how the hymn tune came to be written, see Today in 1869.) Another she wrote is When Love Shines In, about the difference in outlook that comes when Christ […]

  2. Face to Face With Christ My Savior…

    I have always liked that song. I am glad I was able to read about how it came to be written. Thank you.

    • You’re welcome! Drop by any time!

  3. […] Wordwise Hymns The Cyber […]

  4. I just came across your website and just wanted to let you know I am the church historian at the Rutherford New Jersey United Methodist Church. It is in our parsonage where this hymn was composed. The pastors name was Charles L. Mead and the hostess name (Charles wife) was Eleanor.
    From my research “All for Me” was performed at that evening’s service with Reverend Mead performing a vocal solo.

    • Thank you so much! This is a valuable addition to the history of the author and his hymn. As the content of Wordwise Hymns continues to grow, so does its readership–now over 238,000 from more than 190 countries of the world. From time to time I receive personal notes from those who have information not available in the many printed resources. Your contribution is greatly appreciated, enriching to the value of the site. God bless.

  5. I am a relative of Grant Colfax Tullar! I am so blest by his music even so many years later. I was born in western N.Y. State, but have lived in KY since 1984 and have been involved with Gospel Music all my life since my conversion as an 8 yr old! David C Tullar

    • Bless you, David. It’s always great to hear from those who are related to, or have some kind of connection with, our hymn writers. I’ve always loved Face to Face, and through my studies connected with our hymns and gospel songs, I’ve learned more about Mr. Tullar and his work. Thanks for sharing.


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