One Blessing at a Time: “Count Your Blessings”
Counting blessings is a routine for many people as a tool for keeping the hope alive and well in times of hardship. We look for blessings, express our thanks and praise to the Lord to preserve our days into something better. “Count Your Blessings” by Johnson Oatman Jr. (1856-1926) and Edwin O. Excell (1851-1921) is the perfect song to uplift the Spirit of the believers and to help them recognize thanks and praise.
Johnson Oatman, Jr. wrote this song in 1897 while Edwin Excell brought to life with his melody. The hymn is set in D Major with 2/4 time. This hymn borrows themes and from the Bible, specifically in from the Psalm 40:5, Ephesians 1:3 and 1 Thessalonians 5:18.
The hymn helps us to see past through our trials and in the midst of it, recognize the good things – especially gratitude to win over doubt, envy, and self-pity. Overcoming those negative feelings bring us to appreciate what we have right now.
Johnson Oatman Jr. (1856-1926) was born in 1856 in Lumberton, New Jersey. His father was a gifted singer and he wished that he could contribute with him and sing praises to the Lord. He got his wish when he got older and learned that he could write Christian songs very well. He attended Herbert’s Academy and the New Jersey Collegiate Institute. His worked in retail and insurance industries aside from his duties as an ordained Methodist Episcopal minister. His ministerial work is only limited to local churches and he had time to compose 5,000 Gospel songs. His work includes “Come, Soul, and Find Thy Rest”, “He Included Me”, “Higher Ground”, “Holy, Holy, Is What the Angels Sing”, “No, Not One”, “Only Once You Pass This Way” and this hymn. He died on September 25, 1922, Norman, Oklahoma but his remains were buried in Evergreen Cemetery in Lumberton, New Jersey.