Tamara's Journeys

Journeys as great as the destinations.

Hymns With a Message: What a Friend We Have in Jesus

June 24th, 2015

I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person … Revelation 3:20

Did you eat at the table with friends this weekend? I was lucky enough to join good friends, and their family, at a meal and it was very special. Hours later we stood and sang together, “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.” What a special blessing to know Jesus in this way, but what is the story behind the hymn?

Joseph Scriven watched in shock as the body of his fiancée was pulled from the lake the day before their wedding. Reeling from the tragedy, he made up his mind to immigrate to America. The 25 year old packed up his belongings, he left Dublin and sailed for Canada, leaving his mother behind.

Ten years later, in 1855, he received word that his mother was facing a crisis. Joseph wrote this poem and sent it to her. Mrs. Scriven evidently gave a copy to a friend who had it published and it quickly became a popular hymn, though no one knew who wrote it.

To escape his sorrow Joseph lived a simple life in Canada. He poured himself into ministry, doing charity work and preaching. Then, in 1896 Joseph became critically ill and drowned. In his delirium he got up, staggered outside and fell into a small creek. Someone later wrote:

Until a short time before his death it was not known that he had a poetic gift. A neighbor, sitting up with him in his illness, happened upon a copy of What a Friend We Have in Jesus. Reading it with great delight and questioning Mr. Scriven about it, he said that he had composed it for his mother, to comfort her in a time of special sorrow, not intending that anyone else would see it. Some time later when another neighbor asked him if it was true he composed it, his reply was, “The Lord and I did it between us.”

What a friendship Joseph had with Jesus! We can experience the same joy of friendship with Jesus if we just open the door. Thank you Lord! To listen click here:

 

Tamara's Journeys

Journeys as great as the destinations.