579. What a Friend We Have in Jesus

1 What a friend we have in Jesus,
all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
everything to God in prayer!
Oh, what peace we often forfeit,
oh, what needless pain we bear,
all because we do not carry
everything to God in prayer.

2 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.

3 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.

Text Information
First Line: What a friend we have in Jesus
Title: What a Friend We Have in Jesus
Author: Joseph M. Scriven (1855)
Publication Date: 1987
Meter: 87 87 D
Scripture: Matthew 11:28-30; Ephesians 6:18; 1 Thessalonians 5:17; 1 Thessalonians 5; Ephesians 6; Philippians 4:9
Topic: Brevity & Frailty of Life; Temptation & Trial; Songs for Children: Hymns (1 more...)
Language: English
Tune Information
Name: BEACH SPRING
Harmonizer: A. Royce Eckhardt (1972)
Meter: 87 87 D
Key: F Major
Copyright: Harmonization © 1972, Covenant Press


Text Information:

Scripture References:
st. 1 = John 15:15, Eph.6:18, 1 Thess. 5: 17
st. 3 = Matt. 11:28-30

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 fiancee 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.

Scriven wrote "What a Friend" to comfort his sick mother in Dublin, possibly right after the death of his second fiancee. 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 (PHH 73) included the text, set to the familiar tune by Charles C. Converse, in his various hymnals (from 1875 on).

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).

Liturgical Use:
As a hymn of encouragement to pray amid the "sins and griefs" we encounter on our journey of life.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Tune Information:

British hymnals have set Scriven's text to various tunes, including BLAENWERN (416), a fine alternate choice. The choice of BEACH SPRING represents a change from the text's traditional association in North America with CONVERSE, a tune written in 1868 for "What a Friend" by Charles C. Converse. Although that combination is also found in previous editions of the Psalter Hymnal, the revision committee decided to use BEACH SPRING for this text.

BEACH SPRING was first published in The Sacred Harp (1844) as a setting for Joseph Hart's "Come, Ye Sinners, Poor and Wretched" (534). The tune appears in The Sacred Harp (1844) with note values almost identical to those in the Psalter Hymnal but barred in duple rather than triple meter.

Benjamin F. White (b. Spartanburg, SC, 1800; d. Atlanta, GA, 1879), coeditor of The Sacred Harp (1844), was listed as the composer. The tune is named after the Beach Spring Baptist Church in Harris County, Georgia, where White lived. 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.

BEACH SPRING is a strong, pentatonic tune cast into a rounded bar form (AABA). A. Royce Eckhardt (b. Scottsbluff, Nebraska, 1937) wrote the harmonization, which was first published in The Covenant Hymnal. A graduate of North Park College, Chicago, Illinois, and the University of Hartford in Connecticut, Eckhardt has served as minister of music in Covenant Church congregations in Washington, Connecticut, and Illinois. He has also taught at North Park Theological Seminary in Chicago and was music editor of the Covenant Hymnal (1973) .

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook


Media
MIDI file: MIDI Preview(Faith Alive Christian Resources)
More media are available on the text authority and tune authority pages.




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