Behind the Hymn: I Know Whom I Have Believed
I Know Whom I Have Believed was written by Major Daniel Webster Whittle.
Daniel Webster Whittle was born on November 22, 1840 in Chicopee Falls, Massachusetts. He was named for the politician and founder of the dictionary, Daniel Webster.
Whittle was very religious as a young man and worked as a cashier for Wells Fargo Bank.
In 1861, he joined the Army with a rank of 2nd Lieutenant. The night before leaving for war he married Abbie Hanson.
In his own words he tells of his departure, “My dear mother was a devout Christian, and parted from me with many a tear, and followed me with many a prayer. She had placed a New Testament in a pocket of the haversack that she’d arranged for me”
He rose to the rank of Major, lost an arm in the war and became a prisoner of war. While a POW, he began to read through the scriptures.
While a POW, a nurse begged Major Whittle to go pray with a boy that was dying and the nurse admitted to be touched by watching Whittle read the scriptures and not cuss. The nurse admitted he was a wicked man, to which Whittle replied that he was also wicked.
Here, in Major Whittle’s own words, is what took place that night: “I dropped on my knees and held the boy’s hand in mine. In a few broken words I confessed my sins and asked Christ to forgive me. I believed right there that He did forgive me. I then prayed earnestly for the boy. He became quiet and pressed my hand as I prayed and pleaded God’s promises. When I arose from my knees, he was dead. A look of peace had come over his troubled face, and I cannot but believe that God who used him to bring me to the Savior, used me to lead him to trust Christ’s precious blood and find pardon. I hope to meet him in heaven.”
Ten years later, Dwight D. Moody, encouraged Major Whittle to enter evangelism.
James McGranahan put music to many of Major Whittle’s hymns, including I Know Whom I Have Believed.
The chorus of the hymn is based on 2 Timothy 1:12, “…for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.”
I Know Whom I Have Believed was originally published in 1883 in Gospel Hymns No. 4.
Major Wittle died on March 4, 1901, having written over 200 hymns.
I Know Whom I Have Believed is one of Major Whittle’s best known hymns, along with There Shall Be Showers of Dressing. Major Whittle also wrote under the pseudonym’s El Nathan, Elias Nathan and W.W.D.