Hymn 17
(tune: What a Friend We Have in Jesus)

Let’s look at the 9th track on Echoes From the Trail, Hymn 17, sung and played to the tune of What a Friend We Have in Jesus. The English lyrics have sometimes been criticized as being too much of the “sentimental gospel type”. Nonetheless, it has remained popular even to today, maybe because of its comforting message and gentle tune.

In 1855, the preacher Joseph M. Scriven wrote the lyrics as a poem for his mother, who was living in Ireland while he was in Canada. Scriven first published the poem anonymously, but was given credit for it in the 1880s. Charles Crozat Converse, an American attorney who also worked as a composer of church songs, gave the poem its familiar tune in 1868.

The Cherokee lyrics (from the Cherokee Hymn Book) describe a song of love and praise. The song starts out identifying the object of our adoration, “Yi ho wa” (Jehovah). Throughout the song you hear, “e di lv quo de sdi i” – Let us honor him. And each verse and chorus end with the line, “e di ge yu se sdi i” – Let us love Him. Listen to this song a few times and you’ll find yourself singing along with these lines.

As much as I love the original English lyrics, I think it’s easy to quickly love hearing (and singing along) with the Cherokee version.

Here is a 1 minute preview of this song: