Tuesday, April 26, 2011

John 15: What A Friend We Have In Jesus

Just for fun I have loosely set the words of 15:10-15 to the music of "What a Friend We Have In Jesus," written by Joseph Scriven to comfort his mother who lived an ocean away. See Wikipedia entry and my notes below for more history of the song.....The rhythm of my contrived wording isn't great, but that's not the point. He could call us servants, but no - you and I are friends of the God-Man. O magnum mysterium.

Verse One

If you all obey my teachings
you will remain in my love
just as I obey my Father
who has sent me from above

I have told you this so my joy
will be in you and complete
My command is love each other
just I have loved you each

Verse Two

Greater love has no one than he
lays his life down for his friends
you are my friends true and faithful
if you love as I command

I no longer call you servants
who know not their master's will
Now, I call you friends and brothers
Bound forever, peace be still

Some notes from Wikipedia -

"What a Friend We Have in Jesus" is a Christian hymn originally written by Joseph M. Scriven as a poem in 1855 to comfort his mother who was living in Ireland while he was in Canada. Scriven originally published the poem anonymously, and only received full credit for it in the 1880s.[1] The tune to the hymn was composed by Charles Crozat Converse in 1868. William Bolcom composed a setting of the hymn. The hymn also has many versions with different lyrics in multiple languages, such as the Japanese version "Itsukushimi Fukaki" (いつくしみ深き?, lit. "Deep Affection"), or a version sung during World War I with the line "When this bloody war is over" in place of the original title.[2] The Handbook to the Lutheran Hymnal notes, "In spite of the fact that this hymn, with its tune, has been criticized as being too much on the order of the sentimental gospel type, its popularity remains strong, and the hymn retains a place in modern hymnals."

Personally I think that last line is more commentary on its author than on the song. Also, it should be noted that the American labor movement gave its own words to this then-universally popular tune:

Are you tired and heavy laden
Are you living in a shack
Are your wife and children starving
Get that boss right off your back!

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