Scriven’s text has remained largely unchanged since it was first published in 1857. The verses build on one another, carrying the same theme throughout: first raising the questions we have about our pain and sorrow, and then answering those questions with assurance of God’s power and love. As the editors in the Psalter Hymnal Handbook write, the text “is not great poetry,” but it has “spiritual appeal and an effective repeated phrase, ‘take it to the Lord in prayer.’” Albert Bailey goes so far as to describe the repetition as “doggerel,” but adds that this provides a good teaching tool (The Gospel in Hymns, 495).
This is a hymn that acknowledges the pain we experience in life, and then assures us of the comfort we have in Christ. It would be fitting during most services as a hymn of response after the Prayers of the People, or after a time of confession. It’s especially appropriate during a service themed around God’s hand of mercy in times of suffering, or when we need a reminder of our call to pray without ceasing, even when life gets rough. Try pairing this song with the modern hymn, “Jesus Draw Me Ever Nearer,” or a more subdued, slower version of the well-loved contemporary song, “Blessed Be Your Name.”