Esperanto versions of
What a Friend We Have in Jesus

'What a Friend We Have In Jesus' is an old hymn. But it is popular enough to have been translated into one of the world's newest spoken languages, Esperanto.

Here are two versions of the hymn.

Music score

Other languages

Other hymns

What is Esperanto?

Esperanto is a universal second language, conceived to foster peace and international understanding. It was developed at a time (1880's) when people were realising that the colonization model just didn't work.

Just as Latin, French, Spanish and other languages had accompanied early empire builders, the English language was promoted by Britain as part of its Great Imperialism. Teach the natives English so they can better serve the motherland, and don't trouble the haughty white man with learning native cultures before they are 'improved'. Now, much of this culture is lost with the old languages. Even today, half of the approximately 6,000 languages in the world could disappear by the year 2100. 

Ludvic Zamenhof

Scoff if you wish, but the interaction of ideas that is one of the major generators of human invention. Allowing languages to disappear destroys part of our diverse culture; both the good bits and the bad bits. Ophthalmologist Dr Ludvic Lazarus Zamenhof developed a new, artificial language called Esperanto, without many of the archaic idiosyncrasies of English - the existing 'International Language'.

Most importantly, he developed this as a second language; not a replacement for any ethnic language.

What a friend in Esperanto

Joseph Scriven

The original English version of What a Friend We Have in Jesus was written 1855 by Joseph Medlicott Scriven. It has since spread around the world and has been translated into several languages, including Esperanto, which is indicative of the universal importance of this hymn.

The following Esperanto versions were written in Germany 150 years after Joseph Scriven first wrote the poem in Canada. There are two quite different versions:

Trans imag' Jesu' amikas

This was published by Mr Reinhard Pflüger in 2006 in the magazine 'Dia Regno' (number 4/2006); the communication paper of the International Christian Esperanto League (KELI)

KELI is an association of Christian Esperantists with members in 48 countries from diverse faiths. They have published Esperanto versions of the Bible and have their own hymnal. They also organize annual international conferences, usually in Europe. (more...)

Ho Jesu', amiko mia

The second version is called Ho Jesu', amiko mia and was translated a few months after the above version, by Mr Manfred Retzlaff, who is also from Germany.

Here are the two versions side by side for comparison.

For more about the Esperanto language (in English) see Universal Esperanto Association.

For a free, online Esperanto tutorial, see lernu!.


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