Johnson Oatman Jr. was a prolific hymn writer and gospel songwriter who left an indelible mark on the world of Christian music. Born on April 21, 1856, in Lumberton, New Jersey, Oatman came from a family with a deep love for music and a strong Christian faith. His father, Johnson Oatman Sr., was a well-known hymn writer himself, and it was from him that Oatman Jr. inherited his musical talents.
Growing up in a musical household, Oatman developed a passion for songwriting at a young age. He began composing hymns and gospel songs while still in his teens, and by the time he reached adulthood, he had already written dozens of songs. His early compositions were primarily focused on expressing his personal faith and the joy he found in his relationship with God.
One of Oatman's most well-known hymns is "Higher Ground." Inspired by a sermon he heard about the Christian's desire for a deeper spiritual experience, Oatman penned the timeless lyrics that have touched the hearts of believers for over a century. The song speaks of the desire to leave behind the struggles and temptations of this world and press on to a higher plane of spiritual existence. It has become a beloved anthem of the Christian faith and is often sung in churches and worship gatherings around the world.
Another of Oatman's famous hymns is "Count Your Blessings." This hymn encourages believers to focus on the many blessings they have received from God, rather than dwelling on their difficulties and challenges. The song reminds us that even in the midst of trials, we can find comfort and strength by acknowledging and giving thanks for the numerous blessings in our lives. "Count Your Blessings" has been recorded by numerous artists and has become a beloved hymn in both traditional and contemporary worship settings.
Oatman's hymn "Lift Him Up" is a powerful declaration of praise and adoration to God. The lyrics exhort believers to lift up the name of Jesus and proclaim His greatness to the world. With its joyful melody and uplifting message, "Lift Him Up" has become a favorite hymn for congregational singing and is often included in hymnals and songbooks.
In addition to his hymn writing, Oatman also authored several gospel songs that have become popular within the Christian music community. One such song is "There's Not a Friend Like the Lowly Jesus," which speaks of the comfort and support that can be found in a personal relationship with Christ. The song has been recorded by various artists and is often sung as a testimony to the faithfulness of Jesus.
Throughout his career, Oatman's songwriting talents earned him recognition and acclaim. He was awarded the title of "America's Hymn King" and was known for his ability to craft lyrics that resonated deeply with believers. His songs continue to be cherished and sung in churches around the world, standing as a testament to his enduring legacy.
While Oatman never released any albums himself, his songs have been recorded by countless artists over the years. Their enduring popularity is a testament to the timeless quality of his songwriting and the impact it continues to have on the lives of believers.
Even though Johnson Oatman Jr. passed away on September 25, 1922, his songs continue to inspire and uplift believers today. His hymns and gospel songs, with their heartfelt lyrics and memorable melodies, have become an integral part of the Christian music canon. Whether it's the soaring chorus of "Higher Ground," the joyful praise of "Lift Him Up," or the comforting words of "There's Not a Friend Like the Lowly Jesus," Oatman's songs continue to touch hearts and lead believers into a deeper relationship with God.