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.
2. Jesus! what a Strength in weakness!
Let me hide myself in Him.
Tempted, tried, and sometimes failing,
He, my Strength, my victory wins.
3. Jesus! what a Help in sorrow!
While the billows over me roll,
Even when my heart is breaking,
He, my Comfort, helps my soul.
4. Jesus! what a Guide and Keeper!
While the tempest still is high,
Storms about me, night overtakes me,
He, my Pilot, hears my cry.
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.
Hallelujah! what a Saviour!
Hallelujah! what a Friend!
Saving, helping, keeping, loving,
He is with me to the end.
John Wilburn Chapman (better known as J. Wilbur Chapman) wrote this hymn. The first line of the hymn, “Jesus! what a friend for sinners,” seems to refer to Luke 7:34 – “The Son of man is come eating and
drinking; and ye say, Behold a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners!”
J. Wilbur Chapman was born June 17, 1859 in Richmond, Indiana, the son of Alexander H. Chapman and Lorinda McWhinney. He was a well-known Presbyterian pastor and evangelist in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Gospel singer Charles Alexander usually traveled with Chapman in his evangelistic endeavours, which Chapman entered into full-time about 1907.
In May 1918, Chapman was elected Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church. He died in New York on December 25, 1918, two days after receiving emergency surgery for gallstones.
Rowland Prichard (1811-1887) wrote the music with which it most commonly appears, Hyfrydol. Prichard (1811-1887) wrote it in 1830, when he was only 19 years old. In 1844 it was published in Cyfaill y Cantorion (The Singers’ Friend). “Hyfrydol” is Welsh for “tuneful” or “pleasant.” The Psalter Hymnal Handbook (1987) relates, “A simple bar form (AAB) tune with the
narrow range of a sixth, Hyfrydol builds to a stunning climax by sequential use of melodic motives.” The hymn may also be sung with the tune Holy Manna.