*God’s Words. Our Voice: Singing the Songs of Faith – August 2/5, 2018

Aug 05, 2018

“I am not ashamed to confess publicly that next to theology there is no art which is the equal of music…”    Martin Luther, in a letter (1530) to Catholic composer, Ludwig Senfl

Hymns are often the first way we learn to give voice to our faith as children and even those who are not great singers have favorite hymns that they know by heart.  You are invited to reflect on this stanza in the week ahead.  Use it for prayer, meditation, or in daily devotion.  Our prayer and hope is that these hymn stanzas will lift and deepen your faith and encourage your living of that faith in daily works of love and acts of mercy.

Great Is Thy Faithfulness   ELW 733, Stanza 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.

Thomas O. Chrisholm wrote this text in 1923.  He was ordained a Methodist minister, but served as a pastor for only a year before falling ill and changing professions; he became an insurance agent.  He wrote actively, composing more than 1200 poems in his lifetime. (Westermeyer, 2010: 593)  This text quotes from Lamentations 3:22-23: “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

William M. Runyan composed a tune for the text after receiving several submissions from Chrisholm in 1923.  He was the son of a Methodist pastor and was ordained in 1891. Interestingly, he switched jobs in 1924 because he was becoming deaf, but this change did not prevent him from writing one of the most enduring tunes from the period.  (Westermeyer, 2010: 593)


Acknowledgements:  Weekly hymn selections have been adapted from Singing the Songs of Faith: 52 Great Hymn Stanzas created in 2011 by Isobel Davies, Thatcher Lyman, Paul E. Shoop, and Jeremy Shoop.  The selection reflects their views and priorities and is a teaching tool in their settings.  The original resource is available in electronic form at  http://immanuelwebster.org/lutheran/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/52-Great-Hymns_web.pdf