Balm in Gilead

This song is an African American spiritual about healing in Jesus.  

The date of composition is unknown: The song dates at least to the 19th century.  It is included in Washington Glass's 1854 hymn "The Sinner's Cure", and there is an allusion to the song in Edgar Allan Poe's poem The Raven, written in 1845.  There are a number of variations in the tune and text, and no one version is "right".

The “balm in Gilead” is referenced several times in the Old Testament, but the lyrics of this spiritual refer to the New Testament concept of salvation through Jesus Christ.



Singer with guitar:

Singer, self-accompnaied on guitar:

Live performance - soloist:

Trio, unaccompanied:

Congregation, unaccompanied:

Instrumental - organ:


There is a balm in Gilead
to make the wounded whole.
There is a balm in Gilead
to heal the sin-sick soul.

1. Sometimes I feel discouraged,
and think my work's in vain,
but then the Holy Spirit
revives my soul again.

2. Don't ever feel discouraged,
for Jesus is your friend,
who, if you ask for knowledge,
will never fail to lend.

3. If you cannot preach like Peter,
if you cannot pray like Paul,
you can tell the love of Jesus,
who died to save us all.

Alternative versions of verse 2:

Sometimes I feel discouraged,
And think my work’s in vain,
But then the Holy Spirit 
Revives my soul again.

Don't ever feel discouraged,
'Cause Jesus is your friend,
And if you lack for knowledge,
He'll not refuse to lend.

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