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The TRUE story behind the song "WHAT A FRIEND WE HAVE IN JESUS"

Updated on April 9, 2014
Joseph Scriven
Joseph Scriven | Source
Part of Ireland
Part of Ireland | Source
Joseph Scriven
Joseph Scriven | Source
Eliza Catherine Roche
Eliza Catherine Roche | Source
What a Friend we have in Jesus
What a Friend we have in Jesus | Source
Charles C. Converse
Charles C. Converse | Source

I was listening to hymns on YouTube and decided to listen to one of my favorite songs “What a friend we have in Jesus”

There was a video clipping to the side that says: the true story behind “What a friend we have in Jesus” of course I clicked it because I love history and learning new things. As I watched and listened to the video I began to feel very sad and appreciative at the same time. The story was so sad but yet I was thinking here we are singing this song today and we never thought about how or why or what led the author of the song to write it.

The story goes like this: Mr. Joseph M. Scriven an Irish born man (1819-1896) fell in love at the age of twenty five (25) and was to be married. His fiancé suffered a tragic death the day before their wedding. She was riding her horse on her way to meet Joseph when the horse suddenly stopped and she was thrown from the horse and ended up in a nearby river she was unconscious because her head had struck the floor she drowned almost instantly, minutes before Joseph arrived.

When Joseph and his men arrived they saw the body and Joseph saw the face of the girl he was going to married and said the bottom of his world had fell apart. Joseph Scriven was so heartbroken he left Ireland to live in Canada all his future hopes and promises had vanished just in front of his eyes. He said wherever he went or looked in Ireland he was reminded of that happy day that never came so he had to leave Ireland.

He then turned to God for guidance and consolation. Joseph spend the rest of his life in Canada he settle near Lake Ontario, he committed himself to Christ and helping others in need around him. It was said once he never denied a request for help; his greatest desire was to reflect the love of God in his life. Scriven did this for almost forty years (40). He was known as the Good Samaritan he never accepted money for his work but wanted to help those who could not afford to pay. To show his appreciation for the grace of God in his life, working as a teacher he fell in love again and became engaged to Eliza Roche. Again Joseph dreams was shattered as Eliza became ill and died before their wedding. Though Joseph was hurt more than once, he never lost hope and faith in God. His love grew stronger and just after Eliza’s death he started to preach at the Plymouth Baptist Church. He never married again but continued to give thanks, clothes, money etc to the less fortunate.

Just after Eliza’s death Joseph received a letter saying his mother was sick, he could not go to her ,so he decided to write her a poem and send it. The poem was named WHAT A FRIEND WE HAVE IN JESUS” ALL our sins and grief’s to bear, what a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer……..

Thirty years later when Joseph was ill one of his friends came across the poem due to this, almost 30 years later this letter of comfort to Joseph’s mother. The poem was published in a book called Hymns and other verses. Charles C. Converse soon after, noted music to the poem “What a friend we have in Jesus”.

Joseph Scriven was a wonderful man and a role model to follow that no matter what happens in this life we should always love GOD, and never turn our backs on him but be faithful to the end. Always Thank God in Good times and bad times!

What a friend we have in Jesus
What a friend we have in Jesus | Source

" What a FRIEND I have in JESUS"

What a friend I have in Jesus!

He took all my burdens away

and rolled them into the sea

of forgetfulness no more to

remember. O yes my pardon

for me he did pay.

He turned my night into day

and all my darkness he took

away. He turned my sadness into

joy and my complaints into thanks.

O what a friend I have in Jesus.

He covered my sins and pardoned my

Iniquities my transgressions he threw

away. He lift me from despair and keeps

me singing everyday day.

What a friend I have in Jesus, when all

hope seem to have gone and I had no

one to turn to. Only Jesus heard my cry

and fled to my side.

Written by: Joanna Chandler

Copyright © 2014

Don't miss the lovely singing of Alan Jackson below.

God bless you and peace be unto you from Adonai.


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    • LadyFiddler profile imageAUTHOR

      Joanna Chandler 

      4 years ago from On planet Earth

      Hi Bluebird thanks much for coming by an leaving a warm comment :) I do hope you have a wonderful day and a bless weekend.

    • bluebird profile image


      4 years ago

      Thanks for sharing this true story and reminding us of the song. It truly is sweet and because it was born in severe heartache and sadness, it is a beautiful testimony of the power of the Holy Spirit and our Savior and how much He cares for us. We must always look to Him in our trials, hang tough and never quit believing no matter what happens. He is there. Always.

      A good hub and write. Thanks!

    • LadyFiddler profile imageAUTHOR

      Joanna Chandler 

      4 years ago from On planet Earth

      Hi Genna darling good to see you. I've been away for awhile i recently started back writing hubs today am in alot of pains . So tomorrow plz God see me at your hubs :)

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 

      4 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      This is a wonderful yet heart-rending story. I love poetry as well. Voted up and sharing. :-)

    • LadyFiddler profile imageAUTHOR

      Joanna Chandler 

      4 years ago from On planet Earth

      Hi dear Bk4author i appreciate the read. God bless you :)

    • Bk42author profile image

      Brenda Thornlow 

      4 years ago from New York

      What a heartbreaking yet beautiful story! Thank you so much for sharing. Voted up!

    • LadyFiddler profile imageAUTHOR

      Joanna Chandler 

      4 years ago from On planet Earth

      Hey Tamara sure right about what you've said. I share Mr. Scrivens sentiments because I've been through alot and still going through, but my Faith looks up to the thou Christ at Calvary.

      Thanks for coming by

    • Tamarajo profile image


      4 years ago

      His story is such a testimony of faithfulness and loyalty to God. While some make life's tragedies a reason to turn away from God others make it the occasion to draw that much more near to Him.

      A very interesting read.

    • LadyFiddler profile imageAUTHOR

      Joanna Chandler 

      4 years ago from On planet Earth

      Hi Craftytothecore oh how wonderful it is to serve the LORD. I am happy for you in that way you wouldn't have experience many youthful batters of the storm at least you had a refuge to turn to, thought the waves may have been perilous.

    • CraftytotheCore profile image


      4 years ago

      Today is the day for tissues for me. This is a beautiful tribute to a beautiful song. One of my favorites. I was saved at age 7. So I am a living testimony to the fact that we certainly do have a friend in Jesus.

    • LadyFiddler profile imageAUTHOR

      Joanna Chandler 

      4 years ago from On planet Earth

      Hey dear Faith Reaper i hope all is well with you by God's grace thanks for dropping by.

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 

      4 years ago from southern USA

      Wow, Jo, this is such a beautiful hub and thank you for sharing the history behind the wonderful song! It was fascinating and sad too, but God does use us in mighty ways when we suffer through trials on this earth to His glory. Great choice of video. I love everything about this hub. Well done!

      Up and more, tweeting, pinning and sharing

      God bless you. In His Love, Faith Reaper

    • LadyFiddler profile imageAUTHOR

      Joanna Chandler 

      4 years ago from On planet Earth

      Hi Frankie thanks and same to you :)

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 

      4 years ago from Shelton

      lady I love it when you are at your best bless you :)

    • LadyFiddler profile imageAUTHOR

      Joanna Chandler 

      4 years ago from On planet Earth

      Thanks much jackie i appreciate the read ;) God bless U always

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 

      4 years ago from The Beautiful South

      This is so beautiful girl! You have really outdone yourself! This deserves some recognition but I am sure you will get it where it counts. Mr. Alan Jackson is about my favorite country singer too, so that was a great choice. Up and sharing.


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