Words by: Joseph Scriven (1820-1886) in 1855
Music by: Charles C. Converse (1832-1918)
A beloved favorite of Christians through the ages, this hymn has been of great comfort and help in diverse situations. Originally written to comfort his mother who was across the seas from him in Ireland, Joseph M. Scriven penned the words.
At age twenty-five, Joseph Scriven decided to leave his native country so he could migrate to Canada. He left due to a twofold reasoning; the religious influence of the Plymouth Brethren and the accidental drowning of is fiancée the night before the scheduled wedding. After that tragedy, Scriven developed a totally different pattern of life, taking the Sermon on the Mount from Matthew chapters five through seven very literally.
A freehearted and very submissive man, Scriven was seen working in the streets of Port Hope, Ontario with his sawbuck and saw. He gave freely of all his worldly possessions. After learning of his mother’s serious illness and his inability to be with her in far off Dublin, he penned the words to this hymn in a letter of comfort, not originally intending for them to be published. Sometime later Scriven himself was ill and a friend who came to visit saw the poem and asked if he had written the words. With modesty, Scriven replied "The Lord and I did it between us."
Reader's Digest Family Songbook of Faith and Joy, William L. Simon, editor. Montreal, QC: The Reader's Digest Association (Canada) Ltd, 1975.
Hymns of Glorious Praise, Springfield, Missouri: Gospel Publishing House, 1969.
Charles C. Converse (1832-1918)
LYRICS: What A Friend We Have in Jesus
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.