Some songs have the most amazing stories behind them. If we shared them with our congregations, might we find greater engagement with the meaning of the songs?

Take the hymn, “What a friend we have in Jesus”, as an example.

Written by Joseph Scriven in the 19th Century, it is a heartfelt cry of faith from a man who had seen more than his fair share of tragedy. His fiancee was accidentally drowned the day before their wedding. He moved from Ireland to Canada and lived as a broken man for many years.

Hearing of his mother’s illness he wrote the words of what we now know as this hymn to comfort her.  When you are aware of the story, these lyrics have more impact:

1. What a friend we have in Jesus, All ours 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 Saviour still our refuge; Take it to the Lord in prayer. Do thy friends despise forsake thee? Take it to the Lord in prayer! In His arms He’ll take and shield thee; Thou wilt find a solace there.

Do you have a favourite song story? Have you shared it in a time of corporate worship? What difference did it make? 

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“Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.” (Psalms 100:2 NIV11)

God bless, Malcolm

PS: You might also be interested in my book: “An elephant’s swimming pool”, a devotional look at the Gospel of John