This circa 1910 photograph of Oswald Chambers (center) at a gathering was used with permission from the gracious folks at Wheaton College’s Buswell Library, Special Collections.
From Chris Finn: Oswald and Biddy Chambers were selfless people who, with their toddler Kathleen, lived in service to rough, battle hardened troops of the British empire rotating through Egypt during World War One. Oswald’s gospel lectures to the troops were captured and edited into a little book titled, “My Utmost for His Highest” by Biddy Chambers after Oswald’s untimely passing in Egypt.
These lectures were delivered while the Chambers lived in the YMCA huts installed at Zeitoun. I thought, “Gee, if a guy and his wife could really live out a muscular faith in the middle of a place like that with soldiers who have seen hell on earth, there must be something to it.”
My notions have long since been validated. 40 years later, my wife Liz and I still find the brief, daily readings in “My Utmost” to be a hot nuclear core for our own personal faith-walk. We both believe we’ve found something that brings the realities of life into sharper relief against the backdrop of a historic and deeply relevant Divine Love.
As my friend Malcolm Brooks was completing his doctorate, I became keenly interested in his work with documentary songwriting. Listening to and even participating in the creative work coming through the artists in the clinics and sessions he was holding, I had a persistent notion that this approach would be a perfect vehicle to propel the work of Oswald and Biddy Chambers further and wider into the future.
Their little book has never been out of print since 1927 and has sold over 13 million copies worldwide. While a number of great artists have asserted Chambers as their inspiration, to my knowledge none have actually sung his words.
Documentary songwriting has proven to be a wonderful vehicle to take Oswald and Biddy Chambers as what documentary songwriters would call “story sources” and to present their words in beautiful song to encourage, comfort and bless those living in our troubled times.
To my surprise and delight, thanks to the composing and directing talent of Mimi Bornstein, echoing Chambers in song is emerging as a choral effort. This has only affirmed the appeal and reach of this amazing couple’s personal journey of faith.
Special thanks to our friends at Discovery House Publishing/Our Daily Bread for their generous permission to use direct quotations from Oswald and Biddy Chambers, “My Utmost for His Highest” in our documentary songwriting.