Posted by: rcottrill | March 30, 2016

Count Me

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Words: William Charles Poole (b. Apr. 14, 1875; d. Dec. 24, 1949)
Music: Haldor Lillenas (b. Nov. 19, 1885; Aug. 18, 1959)

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (Charles Poole)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Note: William Poole was an American pastor and hymn writer. He served a Methodist church in Maryland for thirty-five years. In 1916, he wrote the present song of testimony. He also gave us Just When I Need Him Most.

This song brings back a painful memory. I was sitting in church one time and the choir was singing this hymn. For some reason (perhaps a lack of sufficient rehearsal) when they got to the leap of a major fourth to “Count me” in the first line, they missed it by a wide margin–repeatedly! It must have been embarrassing for them; it was certainly painful for the rest of us!

We learn to add and subtract early in life, and it’s a skill that remains useful all our days. Whether we are calculating what we owe in income tax, or choosing apples from a bin in the store, it’s involved.

But when we ask people, “Do you count?” we may not be referring to whether they can do basic arithmetic. It could be more personal than that, intended as a query about their commitment, a question of whether they belong to a certain group or not.

Often prior to an election, phone calls are made, asking, “Can we count on your vote? The caller wants to know if we can be included as a supporter of his candidate on election day. If someone suggests a picnic, our response might be, “Count us in!” meaning we want to be included–or, “Count us out,” if we don’t. If a friend is in trouble, we might say, “You can count on us to be there for you,” meaning we can be depended on to help.

In the Bible, the word is used many times, but it’s not always plain to see in English. The Hebrew and Greek words involved are translated in a variety of ways. Instead of “count” we might see impute, reckon, account, number, and so on.

When Paul met a thieving runaway slave named Onesimus [Oh-NESS-imus], led him to faith in Christ. Then he urged him to return to his master, sending along a letter of support for him that said, “If then you count me as a partner [a comrade], receive him as you would me” (Phm. 1:17). When saintly Job was suffering great trials, his family and friends abandoned him, and he mourned, “Those who dwell in my house, and my maidservants, count me as a stranger; I am an alien in their sight” (Job 19:15).

No suffering is pleasant, but we can reckon it a thing to be joyful about in the realization that God is able to use it for good in some way. As James puts it, “My brethren, count it [calculate it] all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience” (Jas. 1:2-3).

In terms of personal salvation, “What does the Scripture say? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was accounted [reckoned, imputed] to him for righteousness’” (Rom. 4:3). It’s a reminder that salvation is by God’s grace (His unmerited favour), and is always received by faith as a gift is received, apart from any works or human merit (cf. Eph. 2:8-9). The Romans passage continues:

“Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt. But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies [counts as righteous] the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness” (vs. 4-5).

When we become Christians, through faith in Christ, we join a vast company of believers, on earth and in heaven (Eph. 3:14-15). To be counted in the number of great saints and courageous martyrs through the centuries is humbling indeed. But, by faith, we bear witness to the fact that it is true, we are part of the family of God.

Pastor Poole’s song is repetitious in the extreme. But it makes a point, telling us, three dozen times, that he wants to be included in the company of the committed. He wants to be recognized as among those who love God and trust in His promises, who belong to the King of kings, who praise Him joyfully and serve Him faithfully.

CH-1) When you count the ones who love the Lord,
Count me, count me;
When you count up those who trust His Word,
Count me, count me.

Count me with the children of the heav’nly King;
Count me with the servants who would service bring;
Count me with the ransomed who His praises sing;
Count me, count me.

CH-2) When you count up those who’re saved by grace,
Count me, count me;
Who have found in Christ a hiding place,
Count me, count me.

CH-4) When you count up those who forward press,
Count me, count me;
Who shall gain the crown of righteousness,
Count me, count me.

Questions:
1) What are some things that, by the grace of God, you are committed to be and do in your Christian life?

2) What has been a failure in one of these things? And what did you do about it?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (Charles Poole)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org


Responses

  1. Years ago a Christian radio station (network?) that I listened to used this hymn as the musical theme for its annual share-a-thon. I had never heard it before, and haven’t heard it since. But reading your commentary about it here brought back some wonderful memories of that station and how God used it to bless my life.

    • Good to hear from you. Your memories of Count Me are clearly better than mine, listening to the off-pitch choir! 🙂 God bless.


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