There’s not a friend like the lowly Jesus,

NO, NOT ONE!” : Johnson Oatman Jr. (1856 – 1922); Music: George C. Hugg

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!

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!
There’s not an hour that He is not near us,
No, not one! No, not one!
No night so dark but His love can cheer us,
No, not one! No, not one!
Did ever saint find this Friend forsake him?
No, not one! No, not one!
Or sinner find that He would not take him?
No, not one! No, not one!
Was e’er a gift like the Savior given?
No, not one! No, not one!
Will He refuse us a home in heaven?
No, not one! No, not one!

“There is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother” (Prov. 18:24)

A song that identifies Jesus as a Friend who sticks closer than a brother is “No Not One!” The text was written by Johnson Oatman Jr. (1856-1922).  He was a prolific gospel song text author whose other well-known hymns include “Count Your Blessings,” “Hand in Hand with Jesus,” “Higher Ground,” “I’ll Be a Friend to Jesus,” “Lift Him Up,” “Sweeter Than All,” “The Last Mile of the Way,” and “What Shall It Profit?”  The tune for “No, Not One” was composed by George Crawford Hugg, who was born on May 23, 1848, near Haddonfield, NJ.  Not much information about him is available.

Johnson Oatman, was born in 1856  and age 19  was ordained by the Methodist Episcopal Church. However, he never pastored fulltime. His ministry was confined to local churches while he partnered with his father in his family’s mercantile business, Johnson Oatman & Son. After his father died, he became an administrator for a large New Jersey insurance company. Oatman was a good singer, but he was in the shadow of his father, one of the best soloists in the state. He couldn’t get a church because he wasn’t much of a preacher. The insurance business was unfulfilling. In 1893 he had to retire because of his health. At first he was at a loss about God’s purpose for his life. But he discovered he had a talent for writing and became one of the most important and prolific gospel song writers of the late 19th and early 20th century. For three decades he wrote four or five new songs each week, composing some 5000 in total. He never wanted to be paid but his publisher insisted. So he agreed and received the going rate for songs in that day…$1.00.

At the time he didn’t know what he was supposed to do, 1895, Johnson wrote these words to reflect how he felt about his personal experience. Presbyterian Church choirmaster George C. Hugg published his first song at age 14 and became a prolific composer. He composed a melody for Oatman’s poem and gave us this song…No Not One

“No, Not One” was produced sometime in the 1890′s. A favourite “Sunday school” song, it extols our living Lord using child-like language.  In typical gospel song character, it employs a repetitive phrase, “No, not one,” which allows people of all ages and backgrounds to join heartily together in the praise of Christ as our Friend.  Songs such as this can teach even the youngest child the truth about the pre-eminence of Jesus and also remind adults of His nearness in every situation of their lives.

This week we will devote our attention to the words and lyrics of this hymn.

The song praises Jesus as a Friend who knows all about our struggles.  Stanza 1 says that Jesus is our Friend because He heals all our souls’ diseases. Jesus Himself calls us His friends, so He must be our Friend: Jn. 15:13-15.  As our Friend, He is lowly, having humbled Himself to the obedience of the cross: Phil. 2:5-8. This Friend is the Great Physician who can heal all our souls’ diseases: Matt. 9:12.

Stanza 2 says that Jesus is our Friend because He is meek and lowly.  Jesus is high in that He sits at the right hand of the Majesty on high: Heb. 1:1-3.  He is also holy in that He is undefiled and sinless: Heb. 7:26. Yet, at the same time He is meek: Matt. 11:28-30.

Stanza 3 says that Jesus is our Friend because He is always near us. Jesus has promised that He will be near us even to the end of the world: Matt. 28:18-20. The darkness of night is often used to represent the sin in this world which is the root of all the troubles and tribulations that we face: Jn. 3:19. Yet, no matter how dark the night may seem, Christ’s love can cheer us: Jn. 16:13.

Stanza 4 says that Jesus is our Friend because He will never forsake us.  The saints are simply those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, having been saved from sin by His blood and added to His church: 1 Cor. 1:1-2. The Bible tells us that Christ will never leave nor forsake His saints: Heb. 13:5-6.  Also the Bible tells us that no sinner who comes to Christ, willing to meet His terms of pardon, will be cast out or turned away: Jn. 6:37.

Stanza 5 says that Jesus is our Friend because He will take us to heaven. God has certainly given us a wonderful gift: 2 Cor. 9:15.  This gift is a Savior who is Christ the Lord: Lk. 2:11. As a result, even though we may choose to live a life that will result in eternal damnation, the fact is that if we follow God’s way, He will not refuse us a home in heaven because Jesus

In conclusion, the chorus continues to extol Jesus for His wonderful characteristics as a Friend. When difficult situations arise in our lives, we should remember that with regard to having a true Friend like Jesus to help us, there’s “No, Not One!”


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