Thomas O. Chisholm

29 July 1866–29 February 1960


Thomas O. Chisholm, in Great Is Thy Faithfulness (1956).

T.O. CHISHOLM was born near Franklin, KY, in 1866. His boyhood up to the age of twenty-one, was spent on a farm and in teaching district schools. He was for five years editor of the local paper at Franklin; was converted at 26, and soon afterward was business manager and office editor of the Pentecostal Herald of Louisville, KY. In 1903, he entered the ministry of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South.

Prior to conversion, he had done versifying, contributing to the Louisville Courier-Journal, and was chosen poet for the Kentucky Press Association. His first hymns were sent to Fanny Crosby for criticism, who returned them with kindly suggestions and such words of commendation as to encourage him in the work. His first success was “O, to be like Thee.” His aim in writing is to magnify the Word, incorporating as much Scripture, either literally or in paraphrase, as possible, and to avoid any flippant or sentimental themes, choosing subjects from the inexhaustible storehouse of the Bible.

“Having been led, for a part of my life,” he tells us, “through some difficult paths, I have sought to gather from such experiences material out of which to write hymns of comfort and cheer for those similarly circumstanced.”

by Charles Gabriel
The Singers and Their Songs (1916)

Thomas Obadiah Chisholm (b. near Franklin, Simpson Co., Ky., July 29, 1866; d. Ocean Grove, N.J., Feb. 29, 1960), without high school of any other advanced training, taught school at the age of sixteen in the little country schoolhouse where he received his own education. When he was twenty-one, he became the associate editor of his hometown weekly newspaper, the Franklin Favorite. Six years later he was converted during a revival meeting conducted in Franklin by Dr. H. C. Morrison. At Dr. Morrison’s invitation he moved to Louisville to become office editor and business manager of Morrison’s Pentecostal Herald. He was later ordained to the Methodist ministry and in 1903 joined the Louisville Methodist Conference. His health failed after a one-year pastorate at Scottsville, Kentucky, and he spent the next five years with his family on a farm near Winona Lake, Indiana. After 1909 he became a life insurance agent in Winona Lake and continued this same work when he moved to Vineland, New Jersey, in 1916. He retired in 1953 and spent his remaining years at the Methodist Home for the Aged, Ocean Grove. He wrote more than twelve hundred poems, more than eight hundred of which have appeared in religious periodicals, with quite a number being used as hymn texts.

by William J. Reynolds
Hymns of Our Faith (1964)


Featured Hymns:

Great is Thy faithfulness

Publications of Hymns:

Thomas O. Chisholm, Great Is Thy Faithfulness and Other Song Lyrics and Poems (Vineland, NJ: Glendale Press, 1956).

For a partial record of his published hymns, see his 1956 book, although some pages only say “Published as a hymn.” Cross-reference these citations against the database at Hymnary.org.

Related Resources:

Charles H. Gabriel, The Singers and Their Songs: Sketches of Living Gospel Hymn Writers (Chicago: Rodeheaver, 1916), p. 76: PDF

William J. Reynolds, “Thomas Obediah Chisholm,” Companion to Baptist Hymnal (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1976), p. 281.

J.R. Watson & Carlton Young, “Thomas O. Chisholm,” Canterbury Dictionary of Hymnology:
http://www.hymnology.co.uk/t/thomas-o-chisholm

Thomas O. Chisholm at Hymnary.org:
https://hymnary.org/person/Chisholm_Thomas