Text: Thomas Chisholm
Music: William Runyan
Scripture References: James 1:17
Liturgical Uses/Seasons: Anniversary, Baby Dedication, Harvest
Themes: Love of God
This hymn was written by Thomas Chisholm in 1923 and mailed to his friend William Runyan who set it to the tune FAITHFULNESS and published by Hope Publishing Company in his Songs of Salvation and Service: for the promotion of evangelism and Christian zeal in all departments of the Church. It has appeared in 167 hymnals since its publication and written in many languages. This tune has a wide appeal across many denominations who prefer different musical styles. The repetition of the refrain of the hymn is similar to modern praise songs, but it, however, retains the structural elements of a traditional hymn. The text of the hymn is consistent with what was originally written, other than the change observed in the third stanza from “thy” to “thine” by the United Methodist Hymnal (1989) and Baptist Hymnal (1991). While other hymnals like The New Century Hymnal (1995) modify “with thee” to “we see”, this changes the meaning from complete emphasis on God to emphasis on singers. NCH also changes “Father” to “Creator”.
Although it can be sung at any time of the year, it is often used in the churches in Nigeria for weddings, naming ceremonies, child dedication, house warming, foundation laying, or thanksgiving as a testament to God’s unchanging nature no matter the circumstances. During Sunday worship services it can be sung either at the beginning of the service or after a sermon. It is based on Lamentations 3: 22-23 “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.” There is also a reference to James 1:17 in verse 1 line 2. This song is most times sung from the hymnals. It can also be accessed from the internet, songbooks, and YouTube. The song can be set to a variety of musical styles, from highlife/woro accompaniment on guitar to classical arrangements for choir and organ.
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!
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]
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]
The Canterbury Dictionary of Hymnology: https://hymnology.hymnsam.co.uk/g/great-is-thy-faithfulness?q=Great%20is%20thy%20faithfulness
Contributed by Emmanuella Chesirri.