What A Friend

Joseph M Scriven

Joseph M 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!

Reading the opening lines to the hymn What A Friend We Have In Jesus, one can not help but believe that the author was acquainted with prayer.  It would also be safe to say that a person who has an active prayer life is also one who has a deep and faithful relationship with God.

Words such as – spiritual communion, supplication/petition, intercession, thanksgiving, confession, praise and adoration, describe the act of prayer.  And though there are some that would like to place confines or restrictions on prayer, such as subject boundaries, performing rituals, and posturing, there are none. Prayer is communication between a believer and God.  It is an easy thing to do. If you can think, then you can pray.

Oh, what peace we often forfeit, Oh, what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry, Everything to God in prayer!

Prayer is personal and can be done privately or publicly. It can be offered with eyes opened or closed, head bowed or held erect.  It can occur on the knees or standing up.  It can be audible or silence.  Can be done while driving a car or laying to rest.  Standing in line or walking in the woods. Wherever a person chooses to pray or how they do it – God hears.

Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged—Take it to the Lord in prayer.

Joseph Scriven, the author of this hymn, was well acquainted with trials.  He experienced pain, loss, and discouragement.  But through life’s tragedies he found the power of prayer and the faith to believe that God would lead him through the darkness.   He found that no matter what he faced God would not forsake him and for that he call him friend.

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.

To my surprise I have found a video that showcases the life of Joseph Scriven which I’ve included at the bottom of this post.  For the sake of not repeating information I will share facts about Joseph that are not mentioned in the video.  May you enjoy learning about the author who gave us a hymn that reminds us of the importance of prayer and that God is our friend.

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.

Joseph M. Scriven was born on September 10, 1819 in Seapatrick county near Dublin Ireland. He was the son of a captain of the Royal Marines and was raised in a prosperous household.  His parent were members of the Anglican church and Joseph was raised according to their beliefs.

In 1855, after Joseph had migrated to Canada, he learned that his mother was terribly ill. Wanting to comfort her, he wrote and sent her a poem titled Pray Without Ceasing. 13 years later, 1868, a friend of Josephs discovered his poem and with permission had it published anonymously (by Joseph’s request) in a book called Hymns and Other Verses.  Within that same year Charles C. Converse, United State attorney and composer of church songs, discovered Pray Without Ceasing and was inspired to set it to music and changed it’s title to What A Friend We Have In Jesus.

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.

The rest of Joseph’s life’s journey is beautifully told through the video below. May you enjoy.


3 thoughts on “What A Friend

  1. This is such an amazing story… Amazing on so many levels. It captivated me, his story of two women he fell in love with during his lifetime and they both had tragic accidents, which left him alone. BUT he wasn’t alone and he knew that, he knew God was going to sustain him, comfort, and never leave him.

    Scriven could have blamed God and disown a relationship with Christ, but he didn’t. Wow… He decided to go to God in prayer and help others. Everything to God in prayer.

    He looked at life as we should view life, with The Lord. I love this song, for one, but just to know the meaning and story of the person who wrote it is outstanding. We as people sometimes don’t think of the words, the meaning, or the person who wrote it and why. Thank you for this…


  2. This poem can be beautifully sung to the tune of “The carnival is over” by Tom Springfield. It shifts the emphasis more towards “take it to the Lord in prayer” rather than “what a friend we have in Jesus”, if that makes sense.


Path walking is always enriched when joined by others. Won't you leave your footprints along the way?

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