Amos Herr (1816-1897) lived on a Lancaster county, Pennsylvania farm that had been in the Herr family since 1710 when his ancestors fist arrived from Europe. In addition to being a farmer, he was a minister of the local Mennonite congregation.
One wintry Sunday morning about 150 years ago, he awoke to a raging blizzard that had left snowdrifts so deep that he knew he could not get to church, even on horseback. He made his way out to the barn to care for his livestock, then came back to the house where his wife and four children were waiting.
The weather outside was unpleasant, but his mind turned to the many things for which he was thankful. He wrote out those thoughts in poetic form, then wrote music to go with the words.
We sang that hymn at the beginning of our worship service yesterday morning and I thought of it through the day. It seems that gratitude is not part of the emotional vocabulary of our modern society.
Dissatisfaction is the life spring of our economy, we always need more and we work to get it. We don’t know why we need it, but everything we see and hear, even the air we breathe, reinforces that feeling that we really need it.
And we have all been mistreated. Do we ever stop to wonder how it can be that everyone is a victim? Everyone is discontented, and with good reason; or so it seems.
Perhaps we all need a good helping of Amos Herr’s medicine of gratitude.
I owe the Lord a morning song
Of gratitude and praise,
For the kind mercy He has shown
In length’ning out my days.
He kept me safe another night;
I see another day;
Now may His Spirit, as the light,
Direct me in His way.
Keep me from danger and from sin;
Help me Thy will to do.
So that my heart be pure within,
And I Thy goodness know.
Keep me till Thou wilt call me hence,
Where never night can be;
And save me, Lord, for Jesus’ sake,
He shed His blood for me.