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Joseph M. Scriven was born in Ireland in 1819. When he was 25 years old, he fell in love and plans were made for him to be married. Tragically, one day before the wedding, his fiance died in a drowning accident. Joseph, heartbroken, left his home in Ireland and traveled to Canada to start a new life. He worked as a teacher and was blessed to fall in love again with a relative of one of his students. But this wedding did not take place, either, as his fiance, Eliza Roche, became ill and died.
We all have lives filled with tragic events, so it's easy to understand the turmoil that this young man was having to deal with. But he held strong in his faith in God, and that carried him through. Not very long after Eliza died, Joseph joined the Plymouth Brethren and began preaching for a Baptist church. Never to marry again, he spent the rest of his life, until he died in 1896, giving all his time, money and his very own clothes to help those less fortunate. He continued to spread Jesus' compassion and love everywhere he went.
About the same time that Eliza died, Joseph learned that his mother was ill. Unfortunately, he wasn't able to travel to be with her. So to comfort her he sent her one of his poems he had written entitled What a Friend We Have in Jesus.
Many years later, Joseph became ill himself and was visited by a friend. During the visit, the friend was impressed with Joseph's poems, which included What a Friend We Have in Jesus. It was almost 30 years after he had written to his mother to give her comfort, and as a result of his friend's visit, that the poems were published in a book called Hymns and Other Verses. Not long after that, that very poem was put to music by musician, Charles C. Converse. In 1875, a well-known musician and revivalist, Ira D. Sankey, who greatly admired Mr. Scriven, saw the music and words for the song and included it in his publication Sankey's Gospel Hymns Number 1.
Because he gave so much of himself in Port Hope, Ontario, Canada, the citizens erected a monument to his life. What seemed to be one man's sad and obscure life has resulted in many lives being uplifted, from the 1800s through modern times today.
There is no other friend like the friend we have in Jesus. If you do not know Jesus as your Lord and Savior, let us show you how you can know Jesus today.
What a Friend We Have in Jesus
What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.
Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged; take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness; take it to the Lord in prayer.
Are we weak and heavy laden, cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge, take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do your friends despise, forsake you? Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In His arms He'll take and shield you; you will find a solace there.
Blessed Savior, Thou hast promised Thou wilt all our burdens bear
May we ever, Lord, be bringing all to Thee in earnest prayer.
Soon in glory bright unclouded there will be no need for prayer
Rapture, praise and endless worship will be our sweet portion there.