Culled from various recordings he made for MCA, What a Friend We Have in Jesus captures how Merle Haggard sounded during the late '70s, but it doesn't stand up to his classic work of the era. It's not that the material is bad or mismatched -- Hag delivers a country gospel song as convincingly as anyone -- but that he doesn't sound particularly inspired throughout the album. There are a few gems buried on the album, but overall it's a little languid and listless, which are two things a country gospel album shouldn't be.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine