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“What a Friend We Have in Jesus”
“Joseph Scriven, 1819-1886”
Joseph Scriven was born in Dublin, Ireland, in 1819.  He had wealth, education (graduated from Trinity College in Dublin), some army training and a pleasant life in his native Ireland when tragedy struck.  On the night before his wedding, his fiancée drowned.  In his deep sorrow, Joseph realized that he could only find solace and support in his dearest friend, Jesus.
His lifestyle changed drastically.  He left Ireland and ended up in Port Hope, Canada, determined to devote all of his extra time in being a friend and help to others.  He fell in love again and planned to marry a wonderful young Canadian woman.  Again, tragedy came his way, and she died after contracting pneumonia.  And once again, Scriven had to turn to his best friend.
Joseph often gave away his clothing and possessions to those in need.  He worked – without pay – for anyone who needed help and became known as “the Good Samaritan of Port Hope.”   A monument was erected in his honor by the citizenry and can be seen today.
If was not known that Scriven had any poetic gifts until a short time before his death.  A friend, sitting with him in an illness, discovered a poem he had written to his mother in time of sorrow, not intending that anyone else should see it.  Titled, “Pray Without Ceasing,” he had no money to travel to see his mother, but thought the poem might bring some comfort to her.
One morning in 1886, Scriven’s body was pulled from Rice Lake in Ontario.  It was never known how or why he died in the water.  Going through his personal affects, a friend discovered many more poems and published them in a book titled, “Hymns and Other Verses.”
“What a Friend We Have in Jesus” would become the most well known and, with the help of some music by Charles Converse, would soar to become one of the most beloved hymns of all time.