“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23 (NRSV)
This hymn was included in the hymnbook of the Baptist Church, in which I grew up. I had always liked it, but when I joined the Presbyterian Church after having graduated from college, this hymn was not to be found in The Hymnbook that many Presbyterian Churches had been using since 1955. Of course, I was introduced to some new hymns in that collection. After the United Presbyterian Church in the United States of America and the Presbyterian Church in the United States were reunited to form the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America in 1983, there emerged plans for a new hymnbook for the reunited church. Many people including myself were pleased to discover that Great Is Thy Faithfulness was included in The Presbyterian Hymnal Hymns, Psalms and Spiritual Songs (1990). Since that time, its re-discovered popularity insured its inclusion in Glory to God The Presbyterian Hymnal (2013).
Sometimes we associate certain hymns with particular occasions and such is my experience with Great Is Thy Faithfulness. In my first pastorate in Virginia, I officiated at the wedding of a woman named Jill and her fiance’, Mac, on Saturday October 24, 1992. Jill and Mac returned from their homes in North Carolina to be married in Jill’s home church. We had enjoyed some good sessions for premarital counseling and planning for the wedding. Jill and Mac chose to have Holy Communion at their wedding, and while this can be a very meaningful part of the service, including this sacrament at weddings in the Presbyterian Church requires considerable coordination. Without a doubt this autumn wedding was one of the loveliest, if not the loveliest, weddings of those at which I have officiated. The weather for this wedding could be described as clear, colorful, cool and crisp. The wedding, the congregational singing of this hymn and the service of Holy Communion were beautiful. I am happy to report that Jill and Mac are still happily married, blessed with a daughter named, Nell and a son named, Van, and have celebrated their 22nd wedding anniversary! Indeed God has been a partner in their marriage!
“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! 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!”
O Lord, as year after year passes, we can see how You have been faithful to us in the seasons of life … summer and winter, and springtime and harvest. We are grateful! Morning by morning new mercies we can see as we awaken to each new day. We are thankful. Keep our eyes open and our mouths overflowing with praise for Your great faithfulness, mercy and love. Amen.