Day 4

Count Your Blessings

from the Go Tell It on the Mountain reading plan


Psalm 40:4-5, Psalm 107:23-31, Psalm 136:1-26, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

BY Guest Writer

Scripture Reading: Psalm 40:4-5, Psalm 107:23-31, Psalm 136:1-26, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

No doubt many things got started in 1892. One of the many was the hymn-writing career of Johnson Oatman, Jr.

He wrote 5,000 hymns during his lifetime, a handful widely regarded as standards: “Higher Ground,” “No, Not One!,” and “Count Your Many Blessings.” That final example was first published in a songbook for young people. It is considered to be Oatman’s opus. One critic said: “Like a beam of sunlight it has brightened up the dark places of the earth.”

The Sunday nights of my childhood were spent in church, hemmed in among the waistlines of good Baptists. The feeling was laid back, no strict order of service like the morning. Often the song leader would loosen his tie and ask us for our favorite hymns. We Baptists didn’t bet, but some voice crying out “Count Your Many Blessings” was a sure thing, every time.

On those easy-like-Sunday evenings, the last half of that hymn’s chorus held a temptation too great for a song leader to resist: congregational participation. He’d always surrender. He would gradually slow us during that high E-flat “Count your blessings,” followed by the descending “name them one by one.” Then he’d bring us up full stop, still as sheep. He’d grin and say, “Now I know one of you has a blessing to count.” A grateful voice would rise, followed by another, and then another. And we would name them, always surprised at what the Lord had done, every time.


Count Your Blessings
by Johnson Oatman, Jr.

When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Refrain:
Count your blessings, name them one by one;
Count your blessings, see what God hath done;
Count your blessings, name them one by one;
Count your many blessings, see what God hath done.

Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, ev’ry doubt will fly,
And you will be singing as the days go by.

When you look at others with their lands and gold,
Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold;
Count your many blessings, money cannot buy
Your reward in heaven, nor your home on high.

So, amid the conflict, whether great or small,
Do not be discouraged, God is over all;
Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.

SRT-Hymns7-Instagram-4

John Blase preached for over a decade but then he thought he’d go where the money is, so he started writing poetry. He’s a lucky man with a stunning wife and three kids who look like their mother. He lives out West but he’ll always be from the South. His books include The Jubilee: Poems; Know When To Hold ‘Em: The High Stakes Game of Fatherhood; and All Is Grace: A Ragamuffin Memoir (co-written with Brennan Manning). He ponders faithfully at johnblase.com.


Sources:

Morgan, Robert J. Then Sings my Soul. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2011.

Osbeck, Kenneth W. 101 Hymn Stories: The Inspiring Stories Behind 101 Favorite Hymns. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 2012.

Post Comments (45)

45 thoughts on "Count Your Blessings"

  1. Atalie Jones says:

    Lord, thank You for Your enduring love. I am so undeserving, but You shower Your love over me anyway. Grow my confidence in Your saving grace, unmerited love, and Your free gift of salvation.

  2. Allison Joy says:

    I love Psalm 136. And I love the line “His steadfast love endures forever.” Reminds me of the song “The Steadfast Love.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IlIwcRXdbGM (Still can’t find a version I really like. But this one is pretty good. :) )

  3. I am loving these lessons!! I often find myself critiquing the old hymns at our church because I love the new Christian songs and it’s difficult to learn the words of the old ones during the songs themselves, but learning the background of these hymns gives me a new appreciation and even excitement to hear them weekly! I have been blessed enormously this year – I was saved in December, God restored my marriage after I asked for divorce and sinned incredibly a few years back, and we just bought our first home. It’s a great season to be in and I pray often that I don’t forget what he’s doing.

    1. Brandi says:

      Thank you for sharing this! So encouraging!

    2. Amanda says:

      So important to remember the history, stories, and songs of our spiritual ancestors. <3 They have so much to teach us. :)

  4. Amanda says:

    Just thinking about how many people who heard this hymn for the first time were living through the Industrial Revolution which brought wealth to some but poverty to many. The wealth of this world, the perceived greatest blessing on earth, is not only temporary, it can be lost in an instant. Unlike what God has promised us for eternity: a place in his kingdom.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *