strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow

Saturday afternoon, visiting with my parents at dad’s assisted living home, I asked them both about their favorite hymns. I know that’s an impossible question, and for me the answer changes all the time, but it was a good starting place for conversation, and keeping my dad alert and engaged is important.

Dad – and I knew he would – went directly for “Dear Lord and Father of Mankind…” and Mum chose “O Perfect Love.” So we talked about the hymns, the meaning of the words, when they remembered singing them, that kind of thing.

I couldn’t help but think about how these sacred songs define my parents, about how the verses are really honest, authentic, statements of faith. My parents don’t just sing these hymns, they live them.

Great is they faithfulness

– 1952

Then, when it was my turn, I went directly to “Great is Thy Faithfulness.” And, as it was almost time to go, I pulled it up on my phone and played a beautiful congregational rendition from some cathedral in the UK.

I listened closely. And, as I did, I felt drawn to the photograph from my mum and dad’s wedding. I walked over to the dresser and picked it up. There they were, he 23 years old and she just 20, surrounded by other young people. I looked at their faces, then glanced over at the 2022 version, dad laying on his side and mum leaning over him, holding his hand, their voices joined in broken fragments of the classic hymn.

– NC writer Derek Maul

I felt a catch in my throat and my eyes filled up. The lines of the hymn scrolled on by: “Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow…” I thought for a moment that the words mocked us. But no, not at all. They were still deep and true. They still are.

And this is my prayer for my parents. Today and then again tomorrow. “Give them strength for today, Lord, and then fill their hearts with bright hope for tomorrow.”

I mean that with every molecule of my being – DEREK

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.

Refrain:
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. [Refrain]

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! [Refrain]

Thomas Chisholm (1923)

2 thoughts on “strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow

  1. I have a poem in the book I wrote about hymns. Judy Truman has it and you can borrow it, of course. “God’s Glorious Riches: Experience His Presence Through the Seasons of Life…

    I cherish hymns and my favorite is “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” as well, Derek.
    Judy’s is “What A Friend We Have In Jesus”.

    When you borrow her book, which she would gladly share with you, look above her bed on the wall at the church I texture-painted for her. It has my favorite poem and hers on it!!!

    I loved this tender blog. It brought a tear and deep hope at the same time. I have been where you are with my mom and dad!

    Liked by 1 person

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