1 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.
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!
2 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. [Refrain]
3 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! [Refrain]
*Alternative texts: “O God my Mother” or “O God Creator”
Source: Voices Together #419
|First Line:||Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father|
|Title:||Great Is Thy Faithfulness|
|Author:||Thomas O. Chisholm (1923)|
|Meter:||22.214.171.124 with refrain|
|Refrain First Line:||Great is Thy faithfulness|
Thomas Chisholm, the author of "Great Is Thy Faithfulness" and 1200 other poems was born in a log cabin in Kentucky in 1866, and he lived a pretty unremarkable life: he worked as a school teacher, a newspaper editor, and insurance agent, then he retired and spent his remaining days at the Methodist Home for the Aged in New Jersey. Unlike many hymns that have heart-wrenching stories behind them (for instance "It Is Well With My Soul"), "Great Is Thy Faithfulness" is inspired by the simple realization that God is at work in our lives on a daily basis. He wrote, "My income has not been large at any time due to impaired health in the earlier years which has followed me on 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." The hymn reminds us that God doesn't only work in dramatic or miraculous ways, but also in simple, everyday ways. It also reminds us that Jesus has never failed us in the past, so we have no reason to doubt his faithfulness in the future. --Greg Scheer, 1994
This hymn was written in 1923 by poet Thomas Chisholm, author of more than 1,200 poems during his lifetime. He mailed it to his friend William Runyan, who set it to music.
The text of the hymn is consistent to what was originally written, other than one minor change in the third stanza from “thy” to “thine” by the United Methodist Hymnal (1989) and Baptist Hymnal (1991) which is just a matter of tradition and preference. The New Century Hymnal (1995) completely modernizes all direct addresses to You and Your. The drawback to this is that, in order to complete the rhyme in stanza one, they modify “with thee” to “we see,” which changes the meaning slightly from complete emphasis on God to the agency of those speaking. The NCH also changes “Father” to “Creator,” which actually helps the transition to stanza two because of its focus on creation (and occasionally is not sung because it does not seem to fit with the other stanzas).
Sung to the tune FAITHFULNESS by William Runyan, written specifically for this poem and published by Hope Publishing Company. Runyan wrote: “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 its use indicates that God answers prayer.”
The tune has a wide appeal across diverse congregations who prefer different musical styles. It has a repeated refrain similar to the repetition in modern praise songs, but retains the structural elements of a traditional hymn.
Although sung at any time of the year, it is often chosen for both funerals and weddings as a testament to God’s unchanging nature no matter the circumstance. It could be sung with songs of hope, such as “Tis so Sweet to Trust in Jesus,” or hymns of grief and comfort such as “Be Still My Soul.” If one wants to focus on the greatness of God, John F. Wilson created a medley in which he paired this hymn with “Great is the Lord.” Cindy Berry also has a creative medley of “Great is Thy Faithfulness” partnered with “My Jesus, I Love Thee” in 4/4 time.
Jasmine Smart, Hymnary.org