This morning I woke up with an old hymn running through my mind. The hymn is titled, “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” (YouTube video below) which is taken from Lamentations 3:22-23 (KJV):
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.
This hymn was written as a poem by Thomas Chisholm (1866-1960), an American hymnwriter, poet, and Methodist minister (see post titled, “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” published on October 10, 2019). The music was composed by William Runyan (1870-1957), a Christian composer, professor, and Methodist minister.
Singing the old hymns often takes me back to my childhood and the church I attended from the time I was born until the early 1980’s. My attendance was sporadic in my 20’s as I was in the Army for a while, and I also attended a college in another state for a year before I attended a two-year college for two years where I received an A.A. degree. I stopped attending the church on a regular basis when my mom died in early 1983, and I moved to another city in the fall of 1983 to attend a state university to finish my bachelor’s degree (which I completed in 1985). The original church building (see pic) no longer exists, and the church relocated in 1983 to a much larger facility. The original building was struck by lightening in 1983 and torn down after they had already relocated to the larger facility, and today there is a senior apartment complex on the land where the original church was located.
Sometimes it seems like a hundred years ago since I attended that church. I moved away from the state where it was located over 30 years ago. The original church building was a really cool old building built in the early 20th Century, and it is where my parents were married in 1948. At the ripe old age of 10, I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior when a traveling evangelist visited our church, and I was baptized (full immersion) in the baptismal pool at the front of the main sanctuary when I was 12, which was the youngest age allowed by the church to be baptized. And later, I sang alto in the choir, and I was involved in several musical productions at Christmas and Easter.
Back when I was a kid the only worship music we sang were the grand old hymns that are still around today. There was no contemporary Christian worship music back then, and a brief history shows that contemporary Christian worship music (CWM) arrived on the scene back in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. The following information comes from a dissertation titled, “A Beautiful Noise: A History of Contemporary Worship Music in Modern America,” by Wen Reagan (2015), Duke University:
How did rock and roll, the best music for worshipping the devil, become the finest music for worshipping God? This study narrates the import of rock music into church sanctuaries across America via the rise of contemporary worship music (CWM). While white evangelicals derided rock n’ roll as the “devil’s music” in the 1950s, it slowly made its way into their churches and beyond over the next fifty years, emerging as a multi-million dollar industry by the twenty-first century.
In the 1970s, the Jesus People movement anchored in Southern California, adopted the music of the counterculture to attract hippies to church. In the early 1980s, the Vineyard Fellowship combined rock forms with lyrics that spoke of God in the second person in order to facilitate intimate worship with the divine. In the late 1980s, the church growth movement embraced CWM as a tool to attract disaffected baby boomers back to church. By the 1990s, these three motivations had begun to energize an entire industry built around the merger between rock and worship. (Quote source here.)
Once contemporary Christian worship music started arriving on the scene when I was in my late teens, I ended up liking both styles of worship (contemporary and the hymns). I still love the old hymns as I grew up on them, and some of them have incredible background stories that go along with them, like “Amazing Grace.” In the case of “Great Is Thy Faithfulness,” the history of that song includes how it became a part of the Billy Graham crusades (between 1947 and 2005 they conducted 417 crusades in 185 countries and territories on six continents–source here), which gave the hymn international recognition (see this link).
As far as my personal love for the hymn, “Great Is Thy Faithfulness,” I’ve been alive long enough now (seven decades) to be able to look back and see, from the very beginning of my life right up to today, just how faithful God has been to me in the best of times and the worst of times, and everywhere in between. And regarding the “everywhere in between,” on November 1, 2022, I published a blog post on my main blog titled, “A Month of Gratitude,” which deals with acquiring a grateful heart in the midst of living in perplexing times by starting off each day by praying “Thank You, God.” Near the end of that post I wrote:
If you are perhaps in need of overcoming some type of anxiety that you’ve prayed about for a long time but still with no resolution, why not join me in a month of saying “Thank you, God” at the start of every morning with praise and gratitude, and leave the rest with him regarding the situation you are seeking some kind of resolution for. After all, He knows us better then we know ourselves (see Psalm 139).
This is probably why the hymn, “Great Is Thy Faithfulness,” entered my thoughts this morning when I first woke up as I’ve been starting each morning since November 1st thanking God first, and I plan to continue thanking God first every morning when I first wake up long after the month of November has ended.
I’ll end this post with the words from the chorus of “Great is Thy Faithfulness”: Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness! Morning by morning new mercies I see; All I have needed…
Thy hand hath provide . . .
Great is Thy faithfulness . . .
Lord, unto me . . . .
YouTube Video: “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” by Austin Stone Worship:
YouTube Video: “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” by Carrie Underwood ft. CeCe Winans:
Photo #1 credit here
Photo #2 credit here
Photo #3 credit here