Great is Thy Faithfulness

Thomas Obadiah Chisholm was born in a log cabin on July 29, 1866, in Franklin, Simpson County, Kentucky. At age 16, Chisholm’s career began in the same small country school house he had elementary training. He did not undergo high school or further training. At 21, he became the associate editor of his home town weekly newspaper, The Franklin Favorite.

Chisholm had a conversion experience at the age of 27, during a revival meeting conducted in his hometown by Dr. H. C. Morrison. At Dr. Morrison’s invitation Chisholm moved to Louisville to become office editor and business manager of Morrison’s publication, the Pentecostal Herald. Later he was ordained a Methodist minister but had only a year of pastoral work due to failing health. After 1909 he became a life insurance agent in Winona Lake and later in Vineland, New Jersey.

In a heart-uplifting letter dated 1941, Thomas O. Chisholm wrote that although his income has not been enough due to his impaired health, he must record the unfailing faithfulness of God for the “wonderful displays of His providing care” and for which he is “filled with astonishing gratefulness.”

In 1923 Thomas Chisholm sent several of his poems to the Rev. W. M. Runyan, a musician associated with the Moody Bible Institute and an editor with the Hope Publishing Company.

Thomas Chisholm wrote more than 1200 poems, many of these have become prominent hymn texts, but ‘Great is thy Faithfulness’ remains his most famous.

A link to a performance of the hymn is below. The lyrics of the hymn come from the book of Lamentations, chapter 3. One of the few times in the church cycle of readings, this coming Sunday, June 28, we are assigned Lamentations 3:22-33.

(biography of Chisholm provided by, copyright Tel Asiado)


Our Gospel lesson for this Sunday is from Mark, chapter 4:

35 On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” 36 And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. 37 A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. 38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39 He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. 40 He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” 41 And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”


For people in Blooming Prairie and the surrounding area, conversation about storms is on our lips today.  After severe weather last night, and a tragic accident on Monday, many are at this very moment trying desperately to make sense of the fragility of life.

The lesson above, which will be read in worship on Sunday morning, raises the same question that many feel while in the midst of disaster:  “Do you not care that we are perishing?”  Human vulnerability turns even the most stoic person into a questioner.

Notice, however, Jesus also asks a question, which prompts the disciples to ask yet a different question by the end of the story.  Questions can be the path to deeper relationship…yes, even the questions that don’t get answered. 

Who is this?  How can this be?

Teaching Jesus, sometimes the “answer” is not a fact, but a relationship.  Help us to trust you enough to raise the questions.  Amen.

Eric Johnson, Austin Daily Herald via AP

Eric Johnson, Austin Daily Herald via AP

For some more pictures of the tornado, go to:

50 Days of Prayer

Leading up to this August’s ELCA Churchwide Assembly in Minneapolis, the ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson is encouraging all ELCA members to engage in 50 Days of Prayer.  See the link below (and after that, to the left in the blogroll) to download the guides.  Begins June 29 and runs through August 17, 2009.