Davidson, NC

St. Alban's Episcopal Church

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Music Notes - July 2022

Posted by St. Alban's Episcopal Church on July 18, 2022 at 9:15 AM

Music Notes July 21, 2022


It never ceases to amaze me that God accomplishes so much for us through other people, often without us ever being aware that God has done so. Not that he needs us, necessarily, to accomplish these things, but he chooses to do some things through our efforts. Sometimes, it is the combined efforts of different people, over time, that produce a final gift that will be meaningful to many people. At times, the person offering his (her) humble gifts or talents may have no idea what it will eventually become. For example, the Offertory Hymn we will sing on Sunday (7/24)- “What a Friend We Have in Jesus”- is one of those instances in which the original purpose for the gift (a poem) was, I believe, refined by God and made into something that could speak to many people over many generations. To state the obvious: our God is very good at refining things.

Joseph Scriven, the author of the poem that, later, became the hymn, was an Irish poet who moved to Canada after his first fiancée drowned the night before they were to be married. When his mother became ill in Ireland, he wrote a poem to comfort her entitled “Pray Without Ceasing”. After Joseph’s second fiancée died of pneumonia, he devoted himself to serving others. He was indeed a man ‘acquainted with grief’.

It was the American lawyer and composer, Charles Converse, who set Mr. Scriven’s poem to music and gave it the title by which we know it today: “What a Friend We Have in Jesus”. This hymn is included in one of our supplementary hymnals, Lift Every Voice and Sing. When we sing hymns from this hymnal, we insert them into the service bulletin. Feel free to take the bulletin home if you wish to keep the words to re-read. I hope that this simple song will be a comfort to all those who, at times, feel overwhelmed by the world’s chaos and pain.





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