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The Tabernacle Choir Blog

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“Count Your Blessings” Is a Reminder to Be Grateful

“Count Your Blessings” is a hymn about gratitude—it’s a call to rise above discouragement, doubt, envy, and self-pity to reach a new appreciation for the blessings which the Lord has poured upon each of us.

Former President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Joseph F. Smith wrote: “The spirit of gratitude is always pleasant and satisfying because it carries with it a sense of helpfulness to others; it begets love and friendship, and engenders divine influence. Gratitude is said to be the memory of the heart. And where there is an absence of gratitude, either to God or man, there is the presence of vanity and the spirit of self-sufficiency” (Gospel Doctrine, 5th ed. [1939], 262).

The hymn was written by Johnson Oatman Jr. in 1897 (with music composed by Edwin O. Excell). Oatman was born in 1856 in Lumberton, New Jersey, and looked up to his father dearly. It was said that his father had the best singing voice in town, and as Oatman grew, he wanted to contribute musically to the faith that he and his father shared. It wasn’t until he was much older that he realized his musical gifts. “At 36, he realized that he did, without question, have a musical talent after all. He could write songs for other Christians to sing. So, every year some 200 songs flowed from his pen. He eventually had written 5,000 songs and was happy that in his musical compositions he had found a way to ‘preach the Gospel’” (“Story Behind the Song: ‘Count Your Blessings,’” St. Augustine Record, Nov. 20, 2014).

“Count Your Blessings” is a very memorable hymn, with each verse beginning with a challenge and ending with the fact that no matter what happens, if we count our blessings, we’ll be “surprised,” “singing,” “rewarded,” and “comforted.” The chorus also repeats the same phrase twice with a different melody and adds the word “many” before the word “blessings” the second time. The repetition of counting our “many” blessings is a great reminder to “always [return] thanks unto God for whatsoever things ye do receive” (Alma 7:23).

In the book Our Latter-Day Hymns: The Stories and Messages, author Karen Lynn Davidson reminds us: “Some people look at life with no other purpose than to find out what is missing. This hymn exhorts us to move beyond such a narrow outlook, to rise above the corrosive effects of envy, and to realize that followers of Jesus Christ are heirs to the greatest of all blessings.”

Count Your Blessings (Lyrics)

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.

(Chorus)

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.

(Chorus)

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.

(Chorus)

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.

(Chorus)