Posted by: rcottrill | November 12, 2010

Today in 1852 – John Oxenham Born

In 1908, the London Missionary Society commissioned John Oxenham to write the script for a giant missionary display. Oxenham (a pen name) is an interesting character. Born in my father’s home city of Manchester, England, he took the name John Oxenham from a character in the novel Westward Ho! But many people in London knew him as Bill Dunkerley, owner of a successful grocery business.

William Arthur Dunkerly had a gift for writing and he did a lot of it. Under the name Julian Ross he created serialized stories for the newspaper. He wrote more than forty novels, many volumes of verse, and a number of hymns. He was also an active layman in his church. During the First World War, his Hymns for the Men at the Front sold eight million copies.

It is estimated that over a quarter of a million people viewed that Missionary Society exhibit over a number of years. As part of it, Oxenham had supplied a hymn poem emphasizing the oneness and cooperation of the church of Christ across the world. The title of Oxenham’s hymn is In Christ there is no East or West. Is it idealistic? Yes–but it suggests something to aim for. And as the Bible says, “We, being many, are one body in Christ” (Rom. 12:5). Though many things may divide us, His blood-bought children always have a spiritual kinship in Christ.

In Christ there is no East or West,
In Him no South or North;
But one great fellowship of love
Throughout the whole wide earth.

Join hands, then, members of the faith,
Whatever your race may be!
Who serves my Father as His child
Is surely kin to me.

(2) Today in 1914 – Henry Jackson Died
Henry Godden Jackson was a Methodist clergyman. He and his wife Alice spent many years as missionaries in Buenos Aires, Argentina. On their return to the United States, they lived in the Chicago area. He gave us a hymn that points us to Christ and His sacrifice, as did the words of a prophet long ago.

John the Baptist was, in a sense, the last and greatest of the Old Testament prophets. The Lord Jesus said of him, “Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist” (Matt. 11:11). And John had a marvelous ministry. The fiery prophet called the Jews to repent of their sins, in preparation for the appearing of their Messiah-King.

John was well aware that Christ was far greater than he. “He preached, saying, ‘There comes One after me who is mightier than I, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to stoop down and loose’” (Mk. 1:7). And, regarding their prominence in ministry, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (Jn. 3:30). Of all the great deeds of this mighty prophet, the greatest by far was his pointing people to the Lord Jesus Christ. At the time when the Lord Jesus began His public ministry, John declared, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (Jn. 1:29).

Henry Jackson wrote a gospel song that, like the words of John, directs our gaze to the One who can cleanse us from sin if we will put our faith in Him.

If you from sin are longing to be free,
Look to the Lamb of God.
He to redeem you died on Calvary,
Look to the Lamb of God.

Look to the Lamb of God.
Look to the Lamb of God.
For He alone is able to save you,
Look to the Lamb of God.

When Satan tempts and doubts and fears assail,
Look to the Lamb of God.
You in His strength shall over all prevail,
Look to the Lamb of God.

I found the following rendition interesting because of the number of instruments involved. In what seems to be a small group, there are about a dozen people playing a wide variety of instruments, and clearly enjoying themselves.


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  3. […] 1908, the London Missionary Society commissioned John Oxenham to write the script for a giant missionary display. Oxenham (a pen name) […]


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