What a Friend We Have in Jesus

Representative Text

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.

Worship and Rejoice, 2003

Author: Joseph Medlicott Scriven

Scriven, Joseph. Mr. Sankey, in his My Life and Sacred Songs, 1906, p. 279, says that Scriven was b. in Dublin in 1820, was a graduate of Trinity College, Dublin, and went to Canada when he was 25, and died there at Port Hope, on Lake Ontario, in 1886. His hymn:— What a Friend we have in Jesus. [Jesus our Friend] was, according to Mr. Sankey, discovered to be his in the following manner: "A neighbour, sitting up with him in his illness, happened upon a manuscript of 'What a Friend we have in Jesus.' Reading it with great delight, and questioning Mr. Scriven about it, he said he had composed it for his mother, to comfort her in a time of special eorrow, not intending any one else should see it." We find the hymn in H. 1... Hastings's S… Go to person page >

Text Information

First Line: What a friend we have in Jesus, All our sins and griefs to bear
Title: What a Friend We Have in Jesus
Author: Joseph Medlicott Scriven (1855)
Meter: D
Language: English
Liturgical Use: Prayer Songs


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



CONVERSE (also "Erie", named for the city in Pennsylvania where the composer lived for many years) was written in 1868 and published two years later in his Silver Wings under the pseudonym Karl Reden. The tune has also been called "Friendship." Born in Warren, Massachusetts, on October 7, 1832, Char…

Go to tune page >



You have access to this FlexScore.
General Settings
Stanza Selection
Voice Selection
Text size:
Music size:
Transpose (Half Steps):
Contacting server...
Contacting server...

Questions? Check out the FAQ

A separate copy of this score must be purchased for each choir member. If this score will be projected or included in a bulletin, usage must be reported to a licensing agent (e.g. CCLI, OneLicense, etc).

This is a preview of your FlexScore.
Baptist Hymnal 1991 #182
  • Bulletin Score (PDF)
  • Full Score (PDF)
  • Bulletin Score (melody only) (PDF)
The Cyber Hymnal #7090
  • Adobe Acrobat image (PDF)
  • Noteworthy Composer score (NWC)
  • XML score (XML)
The Worshiping Church #622
  • Full Score (PDF)
  • Bulletin Score (melody only) (PDF)
  • Bulletin Score (PDF)
The United Methodist Hymnal #526
  • Bulletin Score (melody only) (PDF)
  • Bulletin Score (PDF)
  • Full Score (PDF)
Worship and Rejoice #473


Instances (1 - 70 of 70)Text InfoTune InfoTextScoreFlexScoreAudioPage Scan
African American Heritage Hymnal #430TextPage Scan
African American Heritage Hymnal #431TextPage Scan
Ambassador Hymnal: for Lutheran worship #173
An Nou Chanté! : Let's Sing! #47
Anglican Hymns Old and New (Rev. and Enl.) #811
Baptist Hymnal 1991 #182TextAudioPage Scan
Baptist Hymnal 2008 #154TextFlexscorePage Scan
Celebrating Grace Hymnal #409TextPage Scan
Chalice Hymnal #585TextPage Scan
Christian Worship: a Lutheran hymnal #411Text
Church Family Worship #179
Church Hymnary (4th ed.) #547TextPage Scan
Common Praise (1998) #532Page Scan
Complete Anglican Hymns Old and New #727TextPage Scan
Complete Mission Praise #746
Evangelical Lutheran Hymnary #385TextFlexscorePage Scan
Evangelical Lutheran Worship #742TextPage Scan
Glory to God: the Presbyterian Hymnal #465TextFlexscoreAudio
Hymnal: A Worship Book #573
Hymns and Psalms: a Methodist and ecumenical hymn book #559a
Hymns and Psalms: a Methodist and ecumenical hymn book #559b
Hymns for a Pilgrim People: a congregational hymnal #408Text
Hymns for Today's Church (2nd ed.) #373aText
Hymns for Today's Church (2nd ed.) #373bText
Hymns of Faith #100TextPage Scan
Hymns of Promise: a large print songbook #52TextPage Scan
Hymns of the Saints: Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints #85
Hymns of the Saints: Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints #86
Hymns Old and New: New Anglican #541
Lead Me, Guide Me (2nd ed.) #361Text
Lift Every Voice and Sing II: an African American hymnal #109TextPage Scan
Lift Up Your Hearts: psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs #897TextFlexscorePage Scan
Lift Up Your Hearts: psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs #898Text
Lutheran Service Book #770TextFlexscorePage Scan
Lutheran Worship #516TextPage Scan
Moravian Book of Worship #743TextPage Scan
Praise! Our Songs and Hymns #412
Presbyterian Hymnal: hymns, psalms, and spiritual songs #403
Psalms for All Seasons: a complete Psalter for worship #41BText
Psalter Hymnal (Gray) #579Text InfoTune InfoTextAudio
Rejoice Hymns #244
Rejoice in the Lord #507TextPage Scan
Seventh-day Adventist Hymnal #499
Sing Glory: Hymns, Psalms and Songs for a New Century #646
Sing Joyfully #162TextPage Scan
Sing With Me #172Text
Singing the Faith #531
Small Church Music #2Audio
Small Church Music #3Audio
Songs for Life #52Text
Soul-stirring Songs & Hymns (Rev. ed.) #355
The Baptist Hymnal: for use in the church and home #406
The Celebration Hymnal: songs and hymns for worship #630TextPage Scan
The Covenant Hymnal: a worshipbook #399
The Cyber Hymnal #7090TextScoreAudio
The Family Hymnal: for the worship of God #18
The Hymnal for Worship and Celebration #435TextPage Scan
The New Century Hymnal #506TextPage Scan
The New National Baptist Hymnal #340
The United Methodist Hymnal #526TextFlexscoreAudioPage Scan
The United Methodist Hymnal Music Supplement II #43
The Worshiping Church #622TextFlexscoreAudioPage Scan
Timeless Truths #885Text
Together in Song: Australian hymn book II #590
Trinity Hymnal (Rev. ed.) #629TextFlexscorePage Scan
Voices United: The Hymn and Worship Book of The United Church of Canada #664TextPage Scan
Worship and Rejoice #473TextScoreAudioPage Scan
Worship in Song: A Friends Hymnal #130TextAudio
生命聖詩 - Hymns of Life, 1986 #433
찬송과 예배 = Chansong gwa yebae = Come, Let Us Worship: the Korean-English Presbyterian hymnal and service book #333
Include 1397 pre-1979 instances
Suggestions or corrections? Contact us