African American Spiritual (author unknown)


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Our Healing Balm

The story behind “There Is a Balm in Gilead” is somewhat mysterious, with no single known hymn-writer or composer.

What we do know is that it is one of the most well-known spirituals rooted in the African American experience of slavery in the 18th and 19th century.

These spirituals blend powerful lyrics with elements of African rhythms and European hymnody, which had made its way to America by this time.

Born primarily out of oppression, these songs served as a means of comfort among enslaved African Americans and continue to serve as comfort for all believers in times of trial.

The lyrics to “There Is a Balm in Gilead” include elements of John Newton's hymn, "The Sinner's Cure" and draw inspiration from the Bible where balm from Gilead (an area east of the Jordan River) is referenced in both a literal and figurative sense.

Our hymn of the month reminds us that no earthly solution for our healing is effective. Jesus is our Great Physician who heals us completely and forever.


Hymn Outline

Note how this hymn begins with the refrain which also serves as a statement of fact: there is an answer to our need! It then moves into the singer's personal testimony, encouragement for the listener and then an exhortation to go and keep sharing the good news this hymn is all about.

Announcement (Refrain)

Testimony (Stanza One)

Encouragement (Stanza Two)

Call to Action (Stanza Three)

Read & Relate

There Is a Balm in Gilead

African American Spiritual, Author Unknown



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

Jer. 8:22; Ex. 15:26; Ps. 103:2-3; Mark 2:17; Ps. 147:2-3

Stanza One:

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

Ps. 42:5-6; Rom. 15:13; 1 Cor. 15:58; Heb. 6:10; John 6:63

Stanza Two:

Don’t ever be discouraged,
For Jesus is your friend;
And if you lack for knowledge,
He’ll ne'er refuse to lend. [Refrain]

John 16:33; John 15:15; James 1:5; 1 John 4:19; Luke 4:18

Stanza Three:

If you cannot preach like Peter,
If you cannot pray like Paul,
You can tell the love of Jesus
and say, “He died for all!” [Refrain]

Acts 2:14; Eph. 1:16; 1 Cor. 15:3; John 3:16; Matt. 28:19-20


Go Deeper

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The Study Guide

Our latest Hymn Study Guide will help you and your family reflect through each stanza of our hymn and connect it more firmly in biblical truth.

Download the Guide

For Adults

Reflection Word Search Puzzle
Word Search Puzzle Key
Adult Coloring Pages


Print, mail or post this printable postcard on your fridge or bulletin board, clip in a photo holder or place in a frame.


For Kids 

Stanza Studies for Older Children
Stanza Studies for Younger Children
Activity Pages for Older Children
Activity Pages for Younger Children