Some of the old hymns I sang as a child seemed quite boring and almost “un-singable” in the octaves in which they were created way back then. But now, as I think upon my life (and many of my errors), I realize how incredible helpful those same old hymns are to me.
One that has helped me of late is “Count Your Blessings”. It was written by Johnson Oatman, Jr. in 1897, but how profoundly insightful those words have been for me today! And without throwing water on “Praise and Worship” music, the old hymns are both biblical and focus on theology and the challenges of life in such a different way that contemporary praise songs are able.
Count my blessings: how many things went right today that could have gone wrong. I should, like others, keep a journal of answered prayers and all small, kind things that happened today. People were kind to me at the Paris train station today and were total strangers; an attendant at the hotel that was sweet and helpful and encouraged me to come back next year at a discount; I have enjoyed incredible meals over the past few days with our hosts in France.
And by counting my blessings I can see that my attitude changes and is infectious. Why do I allow things to drag me down! It brings everyone—-especially those I love the most—-down with me. Letting the “what if”s hamstring me and turns me into a worried, anxious man. How much time was wasted counting the troubles I have and not celebrating His blessings to me this day.
Consider these words from Mr. Oatman—-he says it far more eloquently than I could:
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 has done
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God has done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one
Count your many blessings, see what God has done.
And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.
Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly,
And you will keep 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.
……..we need to sing more of the old hymns in our churches.