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 will 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.
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!
I am sure this particular hymn is a beloved and favourite of many. It has been mine as well as my wife’s for years. This song was sung at our wedding and subsequently on many thanks giving occasions in our lives since. Contrary to some older hymns that are no longer sung frequently in today’s churches, this hymn continues to be a part of the modern church today. How many versions of this hymn have you noticed on Youtube. Numerous indeed. Well, the inspiration of this hymn comes from the Scripture found in Lamentations 3:22-23 which reads “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.” The song was written by Thomas Chisolm in 1923. Mr. Chisolm came from a humble background in Franklin, Kentucky United Staes of America. He was born in a log cabin, and never received a high school education or advanced degree. However, he became a school teacher, an editor, and eventually wrote over 1,200 sacred poems of which some eventually became hymns. This particular hymn is an excellent example of taking themes and passages from Scripture, and expounding on the passage in a beautifully poetic way.
Couple of notes from the lyrics:
“Morning by morning new mercies I see” – Not just one single morning, but morning after morning. Mornings in succession – When I wake up it is new mercies of the Lord that I see has given every day (another day of life, another day of provision for food and shelter, another day to spend with your love ones)? Is that your perspective or is it that each morning brings its own set of new problems? I like that the author here states that he sees these new mercies because that tells me he is looking for them. They are not going to necessarily hit you right between the eyes every morning. We have to be looking for the many ways that God shows us His mercy to be reminded of them. That simple change in perspective should open our eyes to all the daily blessings that we are given. God gives us each day for a purpose. Another opportunity to experience His mercies.
“All I have needed Thy hand hath provided” – This phrase is just packed with truth. Notice that the writer says ALL I HAVE NEEDED. NOT ALL THAT I HAVE WANTED. How many times have we wanted an improved version of this or that and we have cried to God with no possitive answer as it were? Lord I have just seen a new BMW and I want it in Jesus’name and the Lord who knows our hearts better than we do sees that if He gives that to us, our brethern are in trouble with our boasts and the sin that will come out of our hearts and lips. So intern he gives us a simple Toyota Vitz or NZE that runs pretty well and meets our needs. Moving from point A to be without the hastle of the matatu drivers. He has provided our need of transport not our want of pomp and circumstance.
- “All I have needed not some of what I have needed Thy hand hath provided” contrasts with the Scripture that states “My God shall supply all of your needs according to His reaches in Christ Jesus.”
- “All I have wanted, Thy hand hath not provided” – God has done as pleases with our wants. The Webster dictionary defines “need” as “a lack of something deemed necessary” or “destitution or extreme poverty”. It defines “want” as “something desired or demanded” or “a sense of lack or need of something.” With globalisation and wealth increased in the world today, I believe we have a real problem distinguishing our needs and wants. Does my IPAD hold 1million songs or 10 million songs? Is my phone a Sumsaung or just the ordinary Nokia? The last definition of want was a “sense” of lack or need. If we “want” something bad enough, we tend to elevate it to “need” status and then wonder why our needs aren’t met, and get mad at God. Isn’t that some crazy logic?
- “All I have needed, My hand hath provided?” – Not exactly! Do you provide for your family? Or does the Lord give you a job and the strength and the ability to provide for your family? If our perspective is that we are “self-made,” we are sadly mistaken. The Lord is our Provider in every way. The song writer says THY HAND hath provided. Al that I have needed it has been packaged and sealed then delivered by the actual HAND of God Himself. That includes my job, my success and the rest.
- “All I have needed, Thy hand hath held back” – God looks to bless us, not hold back from us. I love the passage in Matthew 7:11 which reads “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”
“Strength for today” – Notice that the author doesn’t say, “Strength for today, tomorrow, next week, and next month.” Jesus spoke about worrying in Matthew 6:34 when He said “Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Today has enough troubles of its own, but the Lord will give us the strength today for the problems of today. He has not promised to eliminate all of our problems or provide strength for problems we have yet to encounter, but He will provide strength for this day and its problems. One day at a time, sweet Jesus. That all I am asking of you.
Thou Changest not, thy compassion thy fail not. Yes it is true for God. He changes not. His mercies know no failures. He is the same yesterday today and forevermore. The Bible says in Malachi 3:6 “For I am Lord, I change not.” The writer of Hebrews 13:8 says that “Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” From our point of view, however, there may be times in our lives when our perspective of God changes. Maybe we see Him shining bright at High noon. Or maybe we can’t see Him at all in the “midnight” times in our lives. Maybe we experience seasons of life where we are closer to Him (summertime) and then there are times where He appears to be far off (wintertime). The reality, however, is that our perspective is what has changed. God has not moved. I also am reminded that day and night, spring, summer, winter, and fall are all natural, necessary parts of life so these changes and seasons are not necessarily bad things. But throughout those changes, the sun (and the Son) remains consistent.
Malachi 1:1 reads “My name will be great among the nations, from the rising to the setting of the sun.” Take time to be thankful for God’s faithfulness. Be grateful that He “changeth not,” and pray that we can trust His consistency no matter how our perspective might be changing. And be reminded by the daily rising and setting of the sun that, as Scripture tells us, God’s faithfulness and His name are great.