William M. Runyan

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William M. Runyan
William Marion Runyan

January 21, 1870
DiedJuly 29, 1957

William M. Runyan (1870–1957) was a Christian composer from the United States who wrote the music to the well-known hymn Great Is Thy Faithfulness.

In 1870, William Marion Runyan was born in Marion, New York to a Methodist minister Rev. William White Runyan (born 1828) and his wife Hannah (Orcutt) Runyan (born 1839). At age fourteen, Runyan and his family moved to Marion, Kansas.[1] As a youth, Runyan served as a church organist and graduated from Marion High School in Kansas. Runyan was ordained as a Methodist minister at age twenty-one and then pastored various congregations in Kansas.[2]

Runyan attended Northwestern University for three years from 1895 to 1898. Starting in 1915 Runyan began writing gospel songs with the encouragement of D.B. Towner of the Moody Bible Institute.

In 1923 Runyan moved from Wichita to Chicago. From 1924 to 1926 Runyan was affiliated with John Brown University in Siloam Springs, Arkansas pastoring the Federated Church, and editing the Christian Workers' Magazine. Runyan then moved back to Chicago where he worked with the Moody Bible Institute, and he worked as editor for Hope Publishing Company, co-editing "The Service Hymnal" with Gordon Shorney.

In 1923 Runyan composed the music to the song "Great is Thy Faithfulness," originally a poem by Thomas O. Chisholm, a friend and fellow Methodist minister. Runyan retired from Hope in 1948 and received the honorary Doctor of Letters from Wheaton College.[3][4][5]

Runyan lived for a period of his retirement in Galveston, Texas and died on July 29, 1957 in Pittsburg, Kansas. He is buried in Baldwin City, Kansas. Runyan was a professor and preacher at Baker University in Baldwin City for a period and his children attended the University.[6] Runyan's survivors endowed "The Rev. William M. Runyan Endowed Memorial Scholarship" at Baker University with the royalties from his song "Great is Thy Faithfulness."[7]


  1. ^ Guye Johnson, Treasury of great hymns and their stories (Bob Jones University Press, May 1, 1986) Page 191
  2. ^ Lee Stern, Who is who in music: A complete presentation of the contemporary musical scene, with a master record catalogue (1951)
  3. ^ "Runyan, William M." http://www.hopepublishing.com/html/main.isx?sub=27&search=138 (accessed Feb. 18, 2012)
  4. ^ Kenneth W. Osbeck, Amazing Grace: Illustrated Stories of Favorite Hymns (Kregel Publications: 1999), pg. 14-15
  5. ^ Kenneth W. Osbeck, 101 hymn stories (Kregel Publications, 1982), pg. 84-86
  6. ^ Bill Kyle Interview. Interviewer: Amanda Wahlmeier (Wellsville Historical Society) http://www.wellsvillehistoricalsociety.org/images/Bill_Kyle_Oral_History_Interview.pdf
  7. ^ "Baker bullish on endowment" http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2004/jul/08/baker_bullish_on/ (Thursday, July 8, 2004) (accessed Feb. 18, 2012)

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