Sunday, January 12, 2014

Hymns & Hymn Writers: Only In Thee by David R. Kenney

The hymn “Only in Thee” was written around 1905.  The lyrics were by T. O. Chisholm, and the music was by Charles H. Gabriel.  The tune written by Gabriel is called MONOS with a metrical arrangement of 888.6.999.6.  What do these numbers indicate?  If you look at the syllables in groups of phrases, you can see the pattern.  For instance:

 “Only in Thee, O Savior mine” is 8 syllables
“Dwelleth my soul in peace divine” is 8 syllables
“Peace that the world, thou’ all combine” is 8 syllables
“Never can take from me” is 6 syllables

You can look at the next the second half of the song to see that the next three phrases are 9 syllables and the song is completed by a six-syllable phrase—“Only, Dear Lord, In Thee!” So you can see the arrangement of 888.6.999.6.

Thomas Obadiah Chisholm (1866-1960), Lyricist
Thomas Obadiah Chisholm was born July 29, 1866 in Franklin, Kentucky.  He was educated and was quickly moved into the position of educating others at the age of 16.  He was converted to Methodism by Henry Clay Morrison.  He served as a preacher for one year; however, his constitution was not suited for the demands of the position, so he resigned the work.  He wrote some 1200 songs with an estimated 800 set to music.  Some songs which we sing that may be familiar:  “O To Be Like Thee”, “Living For Jesus”, “Be With Me Lord”, “Bring Christ Your Broken Life” and others.  According to, his top rated songs are:  #1. “Living For Jesus”, #2. Oh To Be Like Thee, #3. Out in the Wilderness, #4. Behold One Cometh… and #5. “Only In Thee”.  Chisholm married Catherine Hambright Vandervere in 1903, and they had two daughters.  Chisholm eventually retired and lived the remainder of his days at the Methodist Home for the Aged in Ocean Grove, New Jersey.  He passed away on February 29, 1960.

Charles Hutchinson Gabriel (1856-1932), Composer
Charles Hutchinson Gabriel was born August 18, 1856 in Wilton, Iowa.  He was taught singing by his father and self-taught music on a reed organ.  He became the Music Director for the Grace Methodist Episcopal Church in San Francisco, CA.  He edited at least 35 songbooks and wrote some 7-8000 hymns or music for hymns.  He was married twice.  His first marriage was to Fannie Woodhouse, but he divorced her and then married Amelia Moore.  He had a child with each wife.  Gabriel was fond of writing with pseudonyms; e.g., S. B. Jackson, Jennie Ree and others.  We sing several of the hymns he created:  “God is Calling the Prodigal”, “He Lifted Me”, “I Stand Amazed”, “Just A Few More Days”, “Only A Step”, “Send the Light”, “Sweet is the Promise” and several others.  Gabriel died September 14, 1932 in Hollywood, California.

Only In Thee

Our society is becoming even more pluralistic.  While the United States has always been open to immigrants to join the great “Melting Pot”, it seems our society has shifted from emphasizing the characteristics that made America, characteristics based upon the Bible, to one of multiculturalism.  While it is certainly true that we can learn from other cultures, there are aspects that are contrary to Christianity that we should be aware of.  One of the major hot button issues in religion and politics is the idea that there is absolute truth.  Another, and possibly more volatile, is that Jesus Christ and His Word is the source of absolute truth in religion.  This may be offensive to some people, but this is what the New Testament teaches.  For example, the apostle Peter stated “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12, NKJV).  Controversial?  Yes.  Could it lead to persecution?  Sure.  Keep in mind that Peter stated this to the Sanhedrin was he was indicting them for the crucifixion of the Son of God!  This truth was controversial then as it is today, but the fact that salvation is to be found in the name of Christ alone remains absolutely true!

Some reject Christ and do not realize they are forfeiting spiritual blessings.  They do not realize that all spiritual blessings offered by God are to be found only in Christ—“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ(Ephesians 1:3, NKJV).  How does one get “into Christ”?  Well, one certainly must have faith, but sadly many deny that baptism has anything to do with it.  They would do well to reflect on the words of the apostle Paul—“For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Galatians 3:27, NKJV).  Basil Overton used to take his suit coat off and illustrate that being immersed is like putting that suit coat on.  By being immersed in water for the forgiveness of sins, you have put on Christ like you put on your suit coat.  Have you “put on Christ”?  Are you “in Christ”?  Have you submitted to “no other name” but His name?


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