408

What a Privilege to Carry

Scripture References

Thematically related:

Further Reflections on Scripture References

Many Psalms speak to the privileges associated with this song, namely, 3, 11, 28, 31, 41, and 91.
When stanza 5 speaks of God as our “refuge”, we can hear the words of Psalms 18, 46 and 91.

Confessions and Statements of Faith References

Further Reflections on Confessions and Statements of Faith References

Difficult times occur in the lives and communities of God’s people because this is a fallen world. The confessions demonstrate this perspective:
  • Belgic Confession, Article 15 teaches that “…by the disobedience of Adam original sin has been spread through the whole human race…a corruption of the whole human nature...” As a result, God’s people are “guilty and subject to physical and spiritual death, having become wicked, perverse, and corrupt in all [our] ways” (Article 14). In addition, “The devils and evil spirits are so corrupt that they are enemies of God and of everything good. They lie in wait for the church and every member of it like thieves, with all their power, to destroy and spoil everything by their deceptions” (Article 12).
  • Our World Belongs to God continues to affirm that “God has not abandoned the work of his hands,” nevertheless “our world, fallen into sin, has lost its first goodness...” (paragraph 4). And now “all spheres of life—family and friendship, work and worship school and state, play and art—bear the wounds of our rebellion” (paragraph 16).
Yet, in a fallen world, God’s providential care is the source of great assurance, comfort and strength. Through these thoughts, our trust in God is inspired.
  • Belgic Confession, Article 13 is a reminder that God’s providence reassures us that God leads and governs all in this world “according to his holy will…nothing happens in this world without his orderly arrangement.” Further, this Confession identifies that this “gives us unspeakable comfort since it teaches us that nothing can happen to us by chance but only by the arrangement of our gracious heavenly Father, who watches over us with fatherly care...in this thought we rest.”
  • Belgic Confession, Article 13, is a reminder that much is beyond human understanding and so “we do not wish to inquire with undue curiosity into what God does that surpasses human understanding and is beyond our ability to comprehend.”
  • In Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 9, Question and Answer 26 we testify that we “trust God so much that [we] do not doubt that he will provide whatever [we] need for body and soul and will turn to [our] good whatever adversity he sends upon [us] in this sad world.”
  • In Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 10, Question and Answer 28, we are assured that through our trust in the providence of God we can have “good confidence in our faithful God and Father that nothing in creation will separate us from his love.”
  • When we pray the Lord’s Prayer we ask not to be brought into the time of trial but rescued from evil. In doing so we ask that the Lord will “uphold us and make us strong with the strength of your Holy Spirit so that we may not go down to defeat in this spiritual struggle...” (Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 52, Question and Answer 127)
Belgic Confession, Article 26 speaks about the intercession of Christ as the ascended Lord. “We have no access to God except through the one and only Mediator and Intercessor, Jesus Christ the Righteous.” We, therefore, do not offer our prayers as though saints could be our intercessor, nor do we offer them on the “basis of our own dignity but only on the basis of the excellence and dignity of Jesus Christ, whose righteousness is ours by faith.” Because Jesus Christ is our sympathetic High Priest, we approach the throne “in full assurance of faith.”
 
No greater assurance can be found than that expressed in Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 1, Question and Answer 1: “I am not my own by I belong—body and soul, in life and in death—to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ.”
 

In all difficult times, we eagerly await the final day when God “will set all things right, judge evil, and condemn the wicked” (Our World Belongs to God, paragraph 57).

408

What a Privilege to Carry

Assurance

Sing stanza 1

Blessed are those who have regard for the weak;
the Lord delivers them in times of trouble.
The Lord protects and preserves them—
they are counted among the blessed in
the land—he does not give them over to
the desire of their foes.

The Lord sustains them on their sickbed
and restores them from their bed of illness.
I said, “Have mercy on me, Lord;
heal me, for I have sinned against you.”

Sing stanza 1 or 2
 
My enemies say of me in malice,
“When will he die and his name perish?”
When one of them comes to see me,
he speaks falsely, while his heart
gathers slander; then he goes out and
spreads it around.

All my enemies whisper together against me;
they imagine the worst for me, saying,
“A vile disease has afflicted him;
he will never get up from the place
where he lies.”

Sing stanza 1 or 3

Even my close friend,
someone I trusted,
one who shared my bread,
has turned against me.
But may you have mercy on me, Lord;
raise me up, that I may repay them.

Sing stanza 1 or 4

I know that you are pleased with me,
for my enemy does not triumph over me.
Because of my integrity you uphold me
and set me in your presence forever.

Sing stanza 1 or 5

Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel,
from everlasting to everlasting.
Amen and Amen.

Additional Prayers

Gracious God, our Lord Jesus taught us that those who imitate your mercy are blessed,
and we know this to be true.
Support us in our times of chaos and despair
and help us to be alert to the needs of others
so that our lives and our lips may praise you, always and everywhere.
We pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
408

What a Privilege to Carry

Tune Information

Name
BEACH SPRING (fragment)
Key
G Major or modal

Musical Suggestion

This psalm may be spoken or chanted with a single refrain or with a series of phrases from the hymn “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.” The final verse of doxology is a conclusion not only of this psalm, but, more significantly, also marks the end of Book 1 of the Psalter. The double amen should be the final word.
408

What a Privilege to Carry

Hymn Story/Background

Scriven wrote "What a Friend" to comfort his sick mother in Dublin, possibly right after the death of his second fiancée. When asked by a neighbor about his writing of the text, Scriven modestly commented, "The Lord and I did it between us." The text was published anonymously in Horace Hastings's Social Hymns, Original and Selected (1865), but Scriven was given proper credit in Hastings's Songs of Pilgrimage (1886). Ira D. Sankey included the text, set to the familiar tune by Charles C. Converse, in his various hymnals that were published after 1875.
 
Scriven's text clearly arises from his own experiences in life. Although not great poetry, the text has spiritual appeal and an effective repeated phrase, "take it to the Lord in prayer." Because of its simple encouragement to "pray without ceasing," the text is much loved in many circles of Christendom. A collection of his poetry was published in Hymns and Other Verses (1869).
 
BEACH SPRING was first published in The Sacred Harp (1844) as a setting for Joseph Hart's "Come, Ye Sinners, Poor and Wretched." What appears in this instance is a short section of "What a Friend We Have in Jesus," which is found in its entirety as number 898 in Lift Up Your Hearts.
— Bert Polman

Author Information

Joseph M. Scriven (b. Seapatrick, County Down, Ireland, 1819; d. Bewdley, Rice Lake, ON, Canada, 1886), an Irish immigrant to Canada, wrote this text near Port Hope, Ontario, in 1855. Because his life was filled with grief and trials, Scriven often needed the solace of the Lord as described in his famous hymn.

Educated at Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland, he enrolled in a military college to prepare for an army career. However, poor health forced him to give up that ambition. Soon after came a second blow—his fiancée died in a drowning accident on the eve of their wedding in 1844. Later that year he moved to Ontario, where he taught school in Woodstock and Brantford. His plans for marriage were dashed again when his new bride-to-be died after a short illness in 1855. Following this calamity Scriven seldom had a regular income, and he was forced to live in the homes of others. He also experienced mistrust from neighbors who did not appreciate his eccentricities or his work with the underprivileged. A member of the Plymouth Brethren, he tried to live according to the Sermon on the Mount as literally as possible, giving and sharing all he had and often doing menial tasks for the poor and physically disabled. Because Scriven suffered from depression, no one knew if his death by drowning in Rice Lake was suicide or an accident.
— Bert Polman

Composer Information

Benjamin F. White (b. Spartanburg, SC, 1800; d. Atlanta, GA, 1879), coeditor of The Sacred Harp (1844), was listed as the composer. He came from a family of fourteen children and was largely self-taught. Eventually White became a popular singing-school teacher and editor of the weekly Harris County newspaper.
— Bert Polman
Hymnary.org does not have a score for this hymn.