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Words: John Henry Sammis (b. July 6, 1846; d. June 12, 1919)
Music: Daniel Brink Towner (b. Apr. 5, 1850; d. Oct. 3, 1919)
Note: There is sometimes confusion over this hymn because the title in various hymn books is either He’s a Friend of Mine, or Jesus Is a Friend of Mine. There is a different song, published by Avis Christiansen in 1921, called Jesus Is a Friend of Mine, but the present one is by John Sammis. He was an American business man, and later a Presbyterian pastor and Bible teacher. This faithful servant of God also wrote a number of hymns. For example, he gave us the text of the gospel song Trust and Obey. A less common offering from Pastor Sammis is his 1910 song, He’s a Friend of Mine.
I’ve told the following story before on this blog, but it fits the theme so beautifully I’ll repeat it.
Art Rogers was a pro ball player in his younger years. Tough, profane, and hot tempered in those days, he was the complete opposite of what he’d become when I knew him. Now, decades later, with his thinning white hair, and slower step, Art was the epitome of gentleness and kindness to all.
What had brought about this dramatic transformation? God had intervened in his life in a powerful way. Art had responded to the gospel, and put his faith in Christ. Daily he radiated the joy of the Lord in his ready smile.
We worked together in an advertising firm, creating commercial displays for stores, conventions and so on. One day, the two of us were asked to go to an exhibition site, where we were to help with the setting up of a display for the Ontario Provincial Police. A couple of electricians, strangers to us, had also been called in to take care of the wiring. As the others worked, it seemed to me that almost every sentence was punctuated with some kind of vulgarity. And time and again one or the other would take the Lord’s name in vain.
Art and I continued to work away on our part of the job. But then, almost casually it seemed, Art said to the other men with a smile, “I see you know a Friend of mine.” The comment was met with puzzlement. They could not recall any person they’d mentioned by name. But Art explained, “It sounds like you know Jesus. You sure talk about him a lot.” And he preceded to give his testimony as to how the Lord had saved him.
That happened about fifty years ago, but I’ve never forgotten it. What a powerful witness! There was no sense of outraged spiritual superiority, no preachiness. He spoke in kindness, with personal warmth, but there was no mistaking his purpose.
Does it bother you when others treat the name of the Saviour with disrespect? Does it grieve you when television programs seem so ready to allow vulgar language, and the denigration of the Lord’s name. It should, if you belong to Him. Jesus said to His followers, “I have called you friends” (Jn. 15:15), and Peter observes, “To you who believe, He is precious” (I Pet. 2:7).
What have you done about others profaning of the Lord’s name? Have you used it as an opportunity for a gracious word? Or written to a television network to voice your concern? I’ve done both, from time to time. If Jesus is our Friend, we should stick up for Him!
CH-1) Why should I charge my soul with care?
The wealth of every mine
Belongs to Christ, God’s Son and heir,
And He’s a friend of mine.
Yes, He’s a friend of mine,
And He with me doth all things share;
Since all is Christ’s, and Christ is mine,
Why should I have a care?
For Jesus is a friend of mine.
CH-3) He daily spreads a glorious feast,
And at His table dine
The whole creation, man and beast,
And He’s a friend of mine.
What a privilege to be able to call the Lord Jesus our Friend! Think of what it’ll be like when He returns to summon those who love Him into His presence forever. There are wonderful things about the heavenly kingdom that we are told in the Word of God. There are many more we’ll learn about when the time comes. John Sammis calls attention on that great day in his last stanza.
CH-4) And when He comes in bright array,
And leads the conqu’ring line,
It will be glory then to say,
That He’s a friend of mine.
1) What does it mean to have Jesus as our Friend?
2) What can you do to graciously speak to others about honouring the Lord’s name?