Daily thoughts during this worldwide crisis.

Friday's Thoughts 11-27-20

The simple hymn “Count Your Blessings” by Johnson Oatman, Jr., was first printed in Songs for Young People in 1897. Reverend Oatman was born just before the conflagration of the American Civil War in New Jersey. Although ordained he continued to work full time in retail and insurance. He found time to write over 5,000 hymns and songs.  


Learning simple songs such as this one as a child forms the way we think and how we view the world. I have no doubt that the songs we sing is a window to our souls. What may begin as simple and naïve when we are young will grow and transform as life becomes more challenging. Counting blessings is no simplistic sentiment, it is a disciplined way to look at life with faith in God. 


Count your Blessings


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. 




Count your blessings, 

Name them one by one, 

Count your blessings, 

See what God hath done! 

Count your blessings, 

Name them one by one, 

And it will surprise you

What the Lord 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, 

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. 

Wealth can never buy

Your reward in Heaven, 

Nor your home on high. 


So, amid the conflict

Whether great or small, 

Do not be disheartened, 

God is over all; 

Count your many blessings, 

Angels will attend, 

Help and comfort give you

To your journey’s end. 



Thursday's Thoughts 11-26-20

Praise and thanksgiving are linked. It is hard to imagine having one without the other. Both are intentional. What is remarkable to me about so many hymns of thanksgiving and praise is the setting in which they were written. I have lived in a relatively peaceful time and place, nearly untouched by death from war and disease. I know this has not been the experience of some, but when many hymns were written it was the experience of most. 


The hymn below was written in the second half of the 17th century in what we now call Germany. Most likely in the Neanderthal Valley by Joachim Neander. His family name was previously Neuman but was changed to a foreign equivalent. In this case Greek – “Neander.” Europe did not pass a decade without a war, or two, or three. Disease was likely to get you before old age got close. The writer of this hymn died at age thirty. And yet, with praise and thanks he writes of God being our health and salvation. We sing of “life and breath” praising God. Be thankful! 


Praise to the Lord, 

The Almighty, the king of creation! 

O my soul, praise Him, 

For He is thy health and salvation! 

All ye who hear, 

Now to His temple draw near; 

Praise Him in glad adoration. 


Praise to the Lord, 

Who o’er all things so wondrously reigneth, 

Shelters thee under His wings, 

Yea, so gently sustaineth! 

Hast thou not seen

How thy desires ever have been

Granted in what He ordaineth? 


Praise to the Lord, 

Who hath fearfully, wondrously, made thee; 

Health hath vouchsafed

And, when heedlessly falling, hath stayed thee. 

What need or grief

Ever hath failed of relief? 

Wings of His mercy did shade thee. 


Praise to the Lord, 

Who doth prosper thy work and defend thee; 

Surely His goodness

And mercy here daily attend thee. 

Ponder anew

What the Almighty can do, 

If with His love He befriend thee. 


Praise to the Lord, 

Who, when tempests their warfare are waging, 

Who, when the elements

Madly around thee are raging, 

Biddeth them cease, 

Turneth their fury to peace, 

Whirlwinds and waters assuaging. 


Praise to the Lord, 

Who, when darkness of sin is abounding, 

Who, when the godless

Do triumph, all virtue confounding, 

Sheddeth His light, 

Chaseth the horrors of night, 

Saints with His mercy surrounding. 


Praise to the Lord, 

O let all that is in me adore Him! 

All that hath life and breath, 

Come now with praises before Him. 

Let the Amen sound from His people again, 

Gladly for aye we adore Him. 



Thoughts for Wednesday 11-25-20

In 1864, somewhere in the Southwest of England, probably near Bath, a young Cambridge Educated schoolmaster penned a poem called “For the Beauty of the Earth.” It is a eucharistic poem set to the tune we call Dix. The last two lines have been changed over the years. Below is the original in its entirety. Stanzas 1,2,4,6 are the most commonly sung today.  


It is a wonderful reminder of the connection between creation and communion


For the Beauty of the Earth


For the beauty of the earth, 

   For the beauty of the skies, 

For the Love which from our birth

   Over and around us lies: 

Christ, our God, to Thee we raise

This our Sacrifice of Praise. 


For the beauty of each hour

   Of the day and of the night, 

Hill and vale, and tree and flower, 

   Sun and moon and stars of light: 

Christ, our God, to Thee we raise

This our Sacrifice of Praise. 


For the joy of ear and eye, 

   For the heart and brain's delight, 

For the mystic harmony

   Linking sense to sound and sight: 

Christ, our God, to Thee we raise

This our Sacrifice of Praise. 


For the joy of human love, 

   Brother, sister, parent, child, 

Friends on earth, and friends above; 

   For all gentle thoughts and mild: 

Christ, our God, to Thee we raise

This our Sacrifice of Praise. 


For each perfect Gift of Thine

   To our race so freely given, 

Graces human and Divine, 

   Flowers of earth, and buds of Heaven: 

Christ, our God, to Thee we raise

This our Sacrifice of Praise. 


For Thy Bride that evermore

   Lifteth holy hands above, 

Offering up on every shore

   This Pure Sacrifice of Love: 

Christ, our God, to Thee we raise

This our Sacrifice of Praise. 


For Thy Martyrs' crown of light, 

   For Thy Prophets' eagle eye, 

For Thy bold Confessors' might, 

   For the lips of Infancy: 

Christ, our God, to Thee we raise

This our Sacrifice of Praise. 


For Thy Virgins' robes of snow, 

   For Thy Maiden Mother mild, 

For Thyself, with hearts aglow, 

   Jesu, Victim undefiled, 

Offer we at Thine own Shrine

Thyself, sweet Sacrament Divine. 



Tuesday's Thoughts 11-24-20

For Thanksgiving week, I will be sharing well-known hymns that offer thanks to God for his creation. The blessings, work, smells, and food of the weeks following harvest are a true blessing from God. A favorite of mine is a poem by a preacher, Maltbie Babcock. He lived in Lockport, New York and walked the hills overlooking Lake Ontario and wrote this poem that was found among his notes after his death.  


It is full of scriptural references and allusions. Rev. Babcock was clearly connected to God, His Creation, and Scripture. 


The usual tune is called TERRA BEATA (“Blessed Earth”). The opening notes are heard in the Shire Theme in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.  


This is my Father's world, 

and to my listening ears

all nature sings, and round me rings

the music of the spheres. 

This is my Father's world: 

I rest me in the thought

of rocks and trees, of skies and seas; 

his hand the wonders wrought. 


This is my Father's world, 

the birds their carols raise, 

the morning light, the lily white, 

declare their maker's praise. 

This is my Father's world: 

he shines in all that's fair; 

in the rustling grass I hear him pass; 

he speaks to me everywhere. 


This is my Father's world. 

O let me ne'er forget

that though the wrong seems oft so strong, 

God is the ruler yet. 

This is my Father's world: 

why should my heart be sad? 

The Lord is King; let the heavens ring! 

God reigns; let the earth be glad! 



Monday's Thoughts 11-23-20