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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

What A Friend We Have In Jesus

I can't tell you how many times over my 40 years I have sat in church and sung that hymn!  I bet you've sung it a few times yourself.  But, do you know the story behind the writing of the hymn What a Friend We Have in Jesus?  I didn't either until this past Sunday morning when a church member handed me a copy of an article from the recent edition of Significant Living magazine.

According to the article "A Woodcutter For the Poor" by Lindsay Terry, What a Friend We Have in Jesus, was originally a poem written by Joseph Scriven in the 1800's.  The poem was titled "Pray Without Ceasing" and was written by Scriven for his mother during a time of sorrow for her and he never intended anyone else to see it.  Some time later, musician and composer Charles Converse discovered Scriven's poem and wrote a musical setting by the title which we are all most familiar.

Apparently Scriven could be seen walking the streets of Ontario Canada with a saw and saw horse and was known to cut wood for those who didn't have money to pay.  Scriven had a desire to assist those who were in the most need.  He fell in love with a young lady who wanted to spend her life with him, but the day before their wedding was killed in a tragic horseback riding accident.  The article stated he never recovered from the shock; however, he did go on to travel.  During these travels, he was known to often serve for no wages and shared his clothes with those who were less fortunate.  Scriven tutored children and cut wood for their parents to pay for his room and board.

Scriven went on to eventually fall in love again.  He was engaged to be married to a woman named Catherine Roche.  Tragedy struck again.  Before they were to wed, Catherine contracted pneumonia and died.  Some time after this, Scriven became ill and it was while a friend was sitting with him during this sickness that would eventually lead to his death, that his poem "Pray Without Ceasing" was discovered.

With that background these words were penned:
 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. 

 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. 

 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.

Praying for you today,



Jodi said...

Gosh! What a tragic story of love and loss. I've always liked that song but never knew the story behind it. Thanks so much for sharing!