What a friend we have in Jesus
(by Joseph Scriven)

What a friend we have in Jesus,

All our sins and griefs to bear!

What a privilege to carry

Everything to God in prayer!

Oh, what peace we often forfeit,

Oh, 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 thy friends despise, forsake thee?

Take it to the Lord in prayer!

In His arms He’ll take and shield thee,

Thou wilt 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.

Joseph Scriven was born in Dublin, Ireland, in 1819, and came from a prosperous family. He graduated from Trinity College, Dublin. At the age of twenty-five he decided to leave his native country and migrated to Canada. His reasons for leaving seemed influenced by his religious beliefs and personal tragedy: the religious effect of the Plymouth Brethren upon his life that estranged him from his family, and the accidental drowning of his fiancée the night before their scheduled wedding. He fell in love again but tragedy came the second time when his bride to be contracted tuberculosis and died before their wedding could take place.

From that time Scriven developed a totally different life pattern. He took the Sermon on the Mount by Jesus literally. He gave freely of his limited possessions, even sharing the clothing from his own body, if necessary, and never once refused to help anyone in need. Because of this manner of life, Scriven was respected, at the same time, he was considered to be eccentric by those who knew him.

Originally a poem, "What a Friend We Have in Jesus" was never intended by the hymn writer, Joseph Scriven, for publication. Upon learning of his mother's serious illness and was unable to be with her in faraway Dublin, he wrote a letter of comfort enclosing the words of this text. Some time later when he himself was ill, a friend who came to see him chanced to see the poem scribbled on scratch people near his bed. The friend read it with interest and asked if he had written the words. With typical modesty, Scriven replied, "The Lord and I did it between us." In 1869 a small collection of his poems was published. Simply, it was entitled Hymns and Other Verses.


  1. This is one of my favourite hymns Jo so thanks for sharing it and a little history.

    It's still Saturday evening here and I should turn off my conmputer and get ready for bed :o)


  2. I love that hymn - in fact we sang it yesterday in our church service! :) It's just beautiful.

  3. I love finding out why theses hymns were written and this one was written by a man who really knew sadness. I also love it.

  4. Such a good reminder for me....why do I worry so much and pray so little?

  5. Oh I love the old hymns, especially this one. I wish we sang more of them @ my church.
    Thanks for stopping by to say hello, It made my day ;)


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