Mastering What A Friend We Have In Jesus Chords: A Comprehensive Guide


In the realm of Christian hymns, few songs hold the same level of eternal significance and emotional resonance as “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.” Originally written as a poem by Joseph M. Scriven in 1855, this timeless hymn has continued to comfort and uplift believers for generations. Its message of casting our burdens upon the Lord and finding solace in His presence strikes a universal chord that transcends time and circumstance.

For musicians and worshippers alike, learning to play “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” on the guitar can be a deeply rewarding experience. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the chords, strumming patterns, and techniques needed to master this beloved hymn. Whether you’re a beginner or a more experienced player, this guide will provide you with the tools and knowledge to skillfully perform this sacred song.

Understanding the Chords

Before we dive into the specific chords for “What a Friend We Have in Jesus,” it’s essential to have a basic understanding of the chord progressions commonly used in hymns and gospel music. In this hymn, we typically encounter major and minor chords that create a sense of both peace and contemplation.

The primary chords used in this song are G major, C major, D major, G7, Em, and Am. Here is a breakdown of each chord and its fingering on the guitar:

  • G major: 320033
  • C major: x32010
  • D major: xx0232
  • G7: 320001
  • Em: 022000
  • Am: x02210

Strumming Patterns and Techniques

To capture the gentle and introspective nature of “What a Friend We Have in Jesus,” it’s essential to use appropriate strumming patterns and techniques. A common strumming pattern for this song is a simple down-up strum that evokes a sense of reverence and tranquility. Experiment with variations such as fingerpicking or arpeggios to add depth and complexity to your rendition.

For intermediate and advanced players, incorporating hammer-ons, pull-offs, and chord inversions can enhance the overall musicality of the piece. These techniques can help you create a more nuanced and expressive interpretation of the hymn, allowing you to convey its profound message with greater impact.

Tips for Mastery

Achieving mastery in playing “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” requires practice, patience, and a deep connection to the spiritual essence of the song. Here are some additional tips to help you hone your skills:

  • Practice slowly and deliberately: Focus on playing each chord cleanly and transitioning smoothly between them.
  • Listen to different interpretations: Gain inspiration from various artists and arrangements of the hymn to develop your unique style.
  • Pay attention to dynamics: Experiment with playing softly and gradually building up to louder passages to convey emotion effectively.
  • Immerse yourself in the lyrics: Understand the meaning behind the words of the hymn to infuse your playing with genuine sentiment and depth.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. Is “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” in the public domain?
  2. Yes, the hymn was written in 1855 and is considered to be in the public domain, allowing for its free use and distribution.

  3. What key is “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” typically played in?

  4. The hymn is commonly played in the key of G major, providing a comfortable range for vocalists and guitarists.

  5. Are there alternative chord progressions for this hymn?

  6. While the chords outlined in this guide are standard, musicians often experiment with variations and substitutions to add freshness to their interpretation.

  7. Can I play “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” on other instruments besides the guitar?

  8. Yes, the song can be adapted for piano, ukulele, violin, and other instruments, allowing for diverse arrangements and performances.

  9. How can I add vocal harmonies to my guitar performance of the hymn?

  10. Experiment with harmonizing your vocals with the guitar chords or invite other singers to join you in creating rich, layered harmonies.

In conclusion, mastering the chords, strumming patterns, and techniques of “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” can open up a world of musical and spiritual expression. Approach the song with reverence and intention, allowing its timeless message to resonate through your playing. Embrace the journey of learning and interpretation, and let the profound words of this hymn guide you on a path of faith, comfort, and friendship with the divine.


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