. . . to be conformed to the likeness of his Son. ~ Romans 8:29
In 1882, Dr. H.C. Morrison, well-known Methodist evangelist, preached a revival in Franklin, Kentucky. Sixteen-year-old school teacher, Thomas O. Chisholm was converted in one of the services. Thomas had been born in a log cabin and was only a self-educated Kentucky boy. But Morrison was so impressed with him that 14 years later he offered him the position of office editor, and eventually General Manager, of the holiness magazine, Pentecostal Herald, based in Louisville. Job pressures caused his health to fail and he resigned. In 1903 he was ordained as a Methodist evangelist and also got married. Sadly, his poor health forced him to quit preaching. After a while he became an insurance and real estate agent.
Poor health, new wife, and no money, but still he trusted in God. He had a talent for writing. Early in his career Fanny Crosby gave him encouragement and he went on to write 1200+ poems. Many were set to music, such as “I Want to Be Like Jesus,” “Living For Jesus,” and “Great Is Thy Faithfulness,” which for years was the theme song of the Moody Bible Institute.
It was 1893, when he was 27 years old, that he read Hannah Whitehall Smith’s classic book, “A Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life.” It created a desire for a deeper religious experience and inspired a poem of his thoughts. Thomas sent it to William Kirkpatrick, the most well-known hymn and songbook editor of the 19th century Holiness Movement. He composed a melody and published the new hymn in 1897. It was Chisholm’s first song to be widely used.
God sustained and blessed Thomas as he wrote words that greatly influenced the burgeoning 20th century Holiness church. He died at 94 years of age and had lived these words God gave him 67 years earlier. . .
O to be like Thee, blessed Redeemer -
This is my constant longing and prayer.
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.
O to be like Thee! O to be like Thee,
Blessed Redeemer, pure as Thou art!
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness.
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.
- Thomas O. Chisholm, 1897
Copied from Sing to the Lord © 1993 by Lillenas Publishing Company
Hymn commentary courtesy J. D. Sherrow