What a Friend We Have in Jesus

by Gary Allison Furr

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    This old hymn is about the deepest heart-truth of faith. Beyond the wranglings of theology and culture, Jesus faith is a heart longing for God. There have been so many wonderful covers, but I was particularly inspired on this one by the low, beautiful voicing of Mississippi John Hurt on Volume 1 of his remastered D. C. Blues recording.
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about

Joseph M. Scriven wrote this beloved hymn. He was a man acquainted with sorrow, which may be why thiss text resonates with us.

According to hymnary.org, "Joseph 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."

hymnary.org/person/Scriven_JM

lyrics

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!
O what peace we often forfeit,
O 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.

credits

released October 18, 2020
Gary Allison Furr-guitar, baritone guitar and vocals.

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Gary Allison Furr Birmingham, Alabama

Dr. Gary Allison Furr has been playing, writing and singing music his whole life. A veteran of lots of bands of the years, he performed with Shades Mountain Air, a Birmingham acoustic-bluegrass band for twenty years .

He has played as both solo artist and with the band at a variety of venues, including colleges and universities, conferences, churches, coffee houses and festivals.
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