In days gone by, the well-loved hymns of the church were sung regularly. Sadly, the old hymns have been replaced by modern “praise music” in many of today’s churches, and many children are missing out on the rich heritage of Christian hymns that we enjoyed.
If you want your family to learn and appreciate the beautiful hymns that you grew up singing, I’d love to have you join me in studying some of the best-loved hymns of all time!
Let’s get started with the beautiful hymn “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.”
What a Friend We Have in Jesus
Joseph M. Scriven, author of “What a Friend We Have in Jesus,” was born in Dublin, Ireland, on September 10, 1819. As a young adult, he graduated from Trinity College and became engaged. Sadly, his fiancée accidentally drowned the evening before they were to be married.
Heartbroken by the loss of his fiancée, Scriven immigrated to Canada at the age of twenty-five. There he became engaged to Eliza Roche, a relative of the family he was tutoring, but the girl died of pneumonia shortly before the wedding.
Mr. Scriven joined the Plymouth Brethren Church and spent his life helping the widows and elderly members of his community. He was known as a selfless man who never refused help to anyone in need.
Mr. Scriven was often seen in the streets of Port Hope, Ontario, carrying a saw and sawhorse. One day a rich man saw him and wanted to hire him to cut wood.
When the rich man’s friend heard this, he replied, “He wouldn’t cut wood for you. He only cuts wood for people who don’t have enough money to pay him.”
In 1855 Mr. Scriven learned that his mother was seriously ill in Ireland, but he couldn’t afford to travel to be with her. Instead he wrote her a letter and enclosed his poem “Pray Without Ceasing” to encourage her to “take it to the Lord in prayer.”
Later, when Scriven himself was ill, a friend came to visit and happened to see the scribbled poem. When asked about the poem, Scriven replied, “The Lord and I did it between us.”
That same poem was later renamed “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.” Although Scriven had not intended to publish the poem, it was included in a small collection of his poems in 1869.
The composer, Charles C. Converse, was an attorney who practiced law in Erie, Pennsylvania. Many of his musical works were performed by leading orchestras and choirs of his day, but he is best remembered today for this simple tune.
Ira D. Sankey discovered the hymn in 1875 and included it in his hymnbook, Sankey’s Gospel Hymns Number One. Since that time, “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” has become one of the best-loved hymns of all time.
Listen to the Hymn
What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.
Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged; take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness; take it to the Lord in prayer.
Are we weak and heavy laden, cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge, take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do your friends despise, forsake you? Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In His arms He’ll take and shield you; you will find a solace there.
Blessed Savior, Thou hast promised Thou wilt all our burdens bear
May we ever, Lord, be bringing all to Thee in earnest prayer.
Soon in glory bright unclouded there will be no need for prayer
Rapture, praise and endless worship will be our sweet portion there.
Get Your FREE Hymn Study Unit!
This hymn study unit includes all the tools you need to study the hymn “What a Friend We Have in Jesus”:
- hymn history
- sheet music
- links to listen to the hymn
- review questions to gauge comprehension
- copywork and notebooking pages
- related Scripture to memorize
- vocabulary words taken from the hymn
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