Posted by: rcottrill | April 10, 2015

No, Not One

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Words: Johnson Oatman, Jr. (b. Apr. 21, 1856; d. Sept. 25, 1922)
Music: George Crawford Hugg (b. May 23, 1848; d. Oct. 13, 1907)

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (Johnson Oatman)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Note: Johnson Oatman was a busy man. He was an ordained clergyman, a Christian business man, and the author of about 5,000 gospel songs. George Hugg served as the choirmaster of a number of churches in the eastern United States. He wrote a great many hymns and gospel songs, both words and music, and was a frequent collaborator of Johnson Oatman’s, providing tunes for the latter’s texts.

Here is another nineteenth century gospel song (from 1895), with many repetitions of a single phrase–reminding us that there’s “no not one” friend like the Lord Jesus (thirty times, counting the refrains). I’m sure this repetition in songs was done purposely, many times, to make them easy to learn and remember, even when singers had no words or music in front of them. (No overhead projectors, power point, or even photo copiers, in those days.)

However, there’s also truth in this song. Read through the lines, omitting the repeated phrase, and you will see it. Each line says something important about our Saviour. Even in writing this review, having just come from my morning prayer time, I was deeply touched by the reminder that “Jesus knows all about our struggles.”

This is a joyful, encouraging song, reflected in Mr. Hugg’s lively tune. A congregation should enjoy singing it. If you are leading the service, in order to make the repetition work for you, rather than becoming tedious, you might try assigning the alternate lines to one half of the group and the other–either those sitting on either side of the sanctuary, or perhaps men and women.

Depending on the understanding of the audience, it might be helpful for the service leader to comment on the statement in CH-5, “Will He refuse us a home in heaven? / No, not one!” That is certainly not true of the unregenerate. But judging from what comes before, the song was written for believers to sing.  And Jesus said, “The one who comes to Me [in faith] I will by no means cast out” (Jn. 6:37).

CH-1) There’s not a friend like the lowly Jesus,
No, not one! No, not one!
None else could heal all our soul’s diseases,
No, not one! No, not one!

Jesus knows all about our struggles,
He will guide till the day is done;
There’s not a friend like the lowly Jesus,
No, not one! No, not one!

There’s only one Person in all the universe who is infinitely and eternally great. That is God. The record of who His is and what He’s done is found in the Bible. He declares, “I am the LORD, and there is no other; there is no God besides Me” (Isa. 45:5). Take a few moments to explore the nature of God, in order to see what makes Him unique, especially as these things relate to God the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

First, there is God’s eternity. Through faith, we are said to receive the gift of eternal life (Jn. 3:16), but we all had a beginning. Jesus is different. When His birth in Bethlehem is prophesied, He is described as One “whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting” (Mic. 5:2). And Christ was able to say to His hearers, “Before Abraham was, I AM” (Jn. 8:58).

Next, think of the Lord’s immutability (that His essential nature is unchanging). God says, “I am the LORD, I do not change” (Mal. 3:6). But no created thing is unchanging. Creation is described as something that will grow old, like a garment (Heb. 1:10-11). “They will be changed, but You [Lord] are the same, and Your years will not fail” (vs. 12). In the context, the writer is speaking of Christ (vs. 4-9).

Then, we are told that the Lord is omnipresent (fully present everywhere). Christ is said to “fill all in all” (Eph. 1:23)–filling everything in every way. So He was able to say to His followers, before departing to His place in heaven at the Father’s right hand (Heb. 1:3), “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:20).

As to His omnipotence, Christ describes Himself as “the Almighty” (Rev. 1:8), the One who is able to “subdue all things to Himself” (Phil. 3:20-21). As to omniscience, Christ is said to “know all things” (Jn. 21:17 cf. 10:15).

Yet it was this One who humbled Himself to become Man, and live among us as the compassionate “Friend” of any and all who came to Him (Jn. 15:15). One who was willing to go to the cross to pay our debt of sin (I Cor. 15:3). As well as being incomparable in the attributes of deity, He was incomparable in His condescension. He “became poor” for us (II Cor. 8:9; cf. Phil. 2:8).

CH-2) No friend like Him is so high and holy,
No, not one! No, not one!
And yet no friend is so meek and lowly,
No, not one! No, not one!

Questions:
1) What truths in this song particularly impress you today?

2) What other songs about the “friendship” of Christ do you know and sing?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (Johnson Oatman)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org


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