What a friend we have in Jesus

The story of the author of this hymn is both sad but inspiring. Joseph M. Scriven (1819-1896) was 25 years old, in love and to be married. The day before his wedding his fiance died in a tragic drowning accident. Heartbroken, Joseph sailed from his homeland to start a new life in Canada. While in Canada working as a teacher, he fell in love again and became engaged to Eliza Roche, a relative of one of his students. Once again, Joseph's hopes and dreams were shattered when Eliza became ill and died before the wedding could take place.

He never married, but spent the remainder of his life giving all his time, money and even the clothes off his own back to help the less fortunate and to spread the love and compassion of Jesus wherever he went.
At the time of Eliza's death, he received a message that his mother was ill, he sent her a letter enclosed with the poem "What a Friend We Have in Jesus". 

Many years later a friend was sitting with Joseph, as he was very ill. During this visit, the friend was very impressed when he ran across his poems, including What a Friend We Have in Jesus. As a result of this visit, almost 30 years after his letter of comfort to his mother, Joseph's poems were published in a book called Hymns and Other Verses. Soon thereafter, noted musician Charles C. Converse (1834-1918) put music to one of those poems - What a Friend We Have in Jesus.

For a man who suffered so much, I wonder if he ever invisgaed the words he penned to his mother would make such a differences to so many over a century and half later. 

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.

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.

( John 15:13) 

(Share Faith: source)


  1. I love this song. One of my favorite hymns. Joseph found rest and peace in Jesus. Some turn bitter and angry...but he found peace. Thanks Jo for sharing this.

    1. Its one of mine too:) If only more people were like Joseph and find peace and good works rather than becoming bitter and angry, what a better world this would be.

  2. A great hymn so uplifting. Thanks for sharing how it came about.

    1. Thanks. Have a wonderful week ahead.

  3. I love this hymn - such a good reminder of how close the Lord wants to be to us and how much He wants to carry us through our trials - we're never alone, no matter how sad or lonely we feel. What a testimony to the grace of God this man's life was!

  4. What a story, and I am so happy that you shared it. Another beautiful hymn...What a friend we have in Jesus, yes indeed!


    1. Jesus is a friend that will never lets us down, a friend we can trust 100%. It's a rather beautiful and sad story.

  5. What a story of love despite the hardships! Thank you for sharing this encouraging history on the Art of Home-Making Mondays! So many people lose faith when times are hard, it is refreshing every time to hear of those who continue to raise His banner! Have a lovely weekend :)

    1. I love reading these sorts of stories as it offers so much encouragement - something we don't see much of these days.

      The weekend is looking lovely, planning to sew and bake :)

      God bless.

  6. This is such a beautiful song. I often just burst out into chorus with this one - one of my favourites. So lovely to hear the story behind it. How sad for him, yet amazing what beauty can come from sad situations when we trust God with everything.

    1. It was such a sad story but such a wonderful hymn as a result - these are the sort of stories that bring tears .


Post a Comment