1 Jesus! what a friend for sinners!
Jesus! lover of my soul;
Friends may fail me, foes assail me,
He, my Savior, makes me whole.
Hallelujah! what a Savior!
Hallelujah! what a friend!
Saving, helping, keeping, loving,
He is with me to the end.
2 Jesus! what a strength in weakness!
Let me hide myself in Him;
Tempted, tried, and sometimes failing,
He, my strength, my vict'ry wins. [Refrain]
3 Jesus! what a help in sorrow!
While the billows o'er me roll,
Even when my heart is breaking,
He, my comfort, helps my soul. [Refrain]
4 Jesus! what a guide and keeper!
While the tempest still is high,
Storms about me, night o'ertakes me,
He, my pilot, hears my cry. [Refrain]
5 Jesus! I do now receive Him,
More than all in Him I find,
He hath granted me forgiveness,
I am His, and He is mine. [Refrain]
Baptist Hymnal, 1991
|First Line:||Jesus! what a Friend for sinners!|
|Title:||Our Great Savior|
|Author:||J. Wilbur Chapman (1910)|
|Refrain First Line:||Hallelujah! what a Savior!|
|Liturgical Use:||Opening Hymns|
J. Wilbur Chapman is the author of this text. According to Richard Stanislaw and Donald Hustad, it was written for the tune HYFRYDOL in 1910, and was first published with it in Alexander's Gospel Songs, No. 2 in the same year (Companion to The Worshiping Church, p. 137).
There are five stanzas and a refrain, and the text is very consistent. The first four stanzas of this hymn each focus on one aspect of Jesus – His love, strength, comfort, and guidance – elaborating on how He can help the believer through life's trials. The final stanza is a declaration of loyalty to Christ, and the refrain is an outburst of praise. Some writers have commented on the similarities between this hymn and Charles Wesley's “Jesus, Lover of My Soul,” including quotations in the second lines of Chapman's first (“Jesus! Lover of my soul”) and fourth stanzas (“While the tempest still is high”).
With very few exceptions, this text is always associated with the well-known Welsh tune HYFRYDOL, which was written in 1830 by Rowland H. Prichard, when he was twenty years old. Robert Harkness harmonized HYFRYDOL for this text in 1910.
This tune is one of the most popular of all hymn tunes, and occurs in most, if not all, modern hymnals, usually with multiple texts – up to six different hymns in a single hymnal! Features of the tune that lend to its popularity include its dependence on stepwise motion and its narrow vocal range (with one exception in the last phrase, the whole tune is within a fifth). The rhythmic patterns are simple, and the tune works well in a variety of moods and tempos.
This hymn of praise can be used at any time of year. It could be played as a prelude, perhaps be handbells (as in “Prelude on HYFRYDOL”) or organ. Although the text is always set to HYFRYDOL in hymnals, a choral arrangement of “Jesus, What a Friend for Sinners” is set to IRBY, another familiar hymn tune, which allows the congregation to hear the text differently.
Tiffany Shomsky, Hymnary.org