What a Friend…

Today, during our morning service, a young woman sang a beautiful old hymn.   Although I do not have her actual video singing it, I wanted to post one.

This old hymn, has been around since the 1800’s.

As I remember all the heartache in the prayer requests shared on our day of prayer and fasting this past Tuesday…there is no doubt that many are in the midst of serious heartache.

Although I don’t typically share things like this, today, I just felt like there is someone out there in blog land that needs to hear these mighty words because they are life-giving!

As this beautiful young woman sang the words, both Dw and I began to cry…

The story behind the author of the old hymn is so powerful….

Copied from Share Faith site:

 Irish born Joseph M. Scriven (1819-1896) was 25 years old, in love and to be married. The day before his wedding his fiance died in a tragic drowning accident. Heartbroken, Joseph sailed from his homeland to start a new life in Canada. 


While in Canada working as a teacher, he fell in love again and became engaged to Eliza Roche, a relative of one of his students. Once again, Joseph’s hopes and dreams were shattered when Eliza became ill and died before the wedding could take place.


 Although one can only imagine the turmoil within this young man, history tells us that his faith in God sustained him. Soon after Eliza’s death Joseph joined the Plymouth Brethren and began preaching for a Baptist church. He never married, but spent the remainder of his life giving all his time, money and even the clothes off his own back to help the less fortunate and to spread the love and compassion of Jesus wherever he went. 


 Around the same time that Eliza died, Joseph received word from Ireland that his mother was ill. He could not go to be with her, so he wrote a letter of comfort and enclosed one of his poems entitled What a Friend We Have in Jesus.

Many years later a friend was sitting with Joseph, as he was very ill. During this visit, the friend was very impressed when he ran across his poems, including What a Friend We Have in Jesus. As a result of this visit, almost 30 years after his letter of comfort to his mother, Joseph’s poems were published in a book called Hymns and Other Verses. 


Soon thereafter, noted musician Charles C. Converse (1834-1918) put music to one of those poems: What a Friend We Have in Jesus.
Well-known musician and revivalist Ira D. Sankey (1840-1908) was a great admirer of Joseph Scriven. In 1875, Sankey came upon the music and words for What a Friend We Have in Jesus. He included it as the last entry into his well-known publication Sankey’s Gospel Hymns Number 1.

After Joseph Scriven’s death, the citizens of Port Hope, Ontario, Canada, where he gave so much of himself, erected a monument to his life. The seemingly sad and obscure life of one man resulted in so many lives being uplifted, both in his own time, and for many years after whenever the beautiful and comforting words of What a Friend We Have in Jesus are sung. 

 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.



Here’s Paul B. singing it….let it minister to your soul….


21 thoughts on “What a Friend…

  1. At church yesterday we sang a couple of hyms which is unusual for our congregation. One of them was, It is Well with My Soul. Another hymn which was birthed in tragedy. The writer losing his whole family, as I understand it, in terrible circumstances, but could still write of the joy he found that all is well with my soul. There are great lessons that we can learn from these faithful hymn writers from the past.

    1. I LOVE It is Well…and the story behind it? Wow. We think we have troubles…who could imagine!? But out of that mans deep anguish, one of the most profound songs that has influenced Christians for years. Powerful!

  2. So much thank you for sharing this! I've
    known this song since I was very little.
    But last weeks it became very powerfull
    to me. It is a great encouragement in these
    difficult times. Thank you for being the Lord's voice to me with sharing the mighty words
    of this song.
    Jane

  3. Beautiful hymn, it is so much like this daily promise box verse that I have up right now, which the Lord spoke to me, and which I shared with someone just a few minutes ago! 🙂

    Psalms 55:22
    Cast (throw) thy burden (oppressions) upon the LORD, and he shall sustain (carry) thee: he shall never suffer (allow) the righteous to be moved (shaken).

    Praising the Lord for His goodness and kindness 🙂 HalleluYah!

  4. Catching up after a weekend away with my Grandpa who has 4th stage lung cancer and my Aunt who has 4th stage breast cancer and the tears won't stop coming! Thank you for ALL your posts!

  5. I've always loved this hymn, but I'll be honest and say that as an adult I've struggled with the line, "we should never be discouraged". I sing that, and fight not to feel condemned because I often do get discouraged. I see cheerful people all around me able to laugh and be so much fun to be around, and I wonder where in the world my melancholy tendencies came from and where I can buy a new personality. Seriously, a lot of self-hatred comes just from not being like the cheerful people I admire whom everyone loves to be around, and wondering how to fix my brokenness so that I can be like them instead of this serious, super-sensitive girl who feels everything so deeply. When discouragement comes, I know that the only thing that will work is to run to Jesus immediately. And when discouragement tries to stay, I know to snuggle into His lap with even more determination so that I can find His strength and renewed courage to keep on facing each moment. When I sing it to my little boy, I find myself singing, "When we find ourselves discouraged, take it to the Lord in prayer." But I have always wondered why he wrote it like that, and if there really is a way to get to the point where one doesn't get discouraged by anything.

    1. Listen sweet friend, all I can say is that over the years I am learning that His word is true. Completely true. He is always faithful. Completely trustworthy. That being said, it says to "rejoice always, in everything give thanks." Thankfulness changes hearts. Every situation that occurs we are to give thanks for. I think the switch flipped for me when I really began to understand that He would work whatever situation out, for my good as I trusted Him. Not every situation was fun, some were horribly painful, but ALL were used to bring Him glory and make us more like Him.

      I think there is a tendency for us, as humans, to think, but 'so and so doesn't have to go thru this.." {which might be true} but EVERY SINGLE OBSTACLE is used by Him to make us more like Him. Period. Everything is to be given thanks for. Period. His word never fails. The more I thank Him the more I see my attitude and heart made more like His.

      God's word also says "Put on the garments of praise for the spirit of heaviness" {I know I am not quoting it accurately, but that's how the lyrics of the song which is in response to that verse goes}…when I am discouraged I start to praise Him. Praise, praise, praise!! When we are praising Him, we are unable to have a pity party or live in fear or worry or whatever else we are tempted to do…

      So start to allow thankfulness and praise flow freely from your lips. He IS faithful! Remind yourself of all the times He has been faithful…and I guarantee your attitude will lift…and your heart will begin to bring peace from HIM to it…Isaiah 26:3 is one of my favs…"He will keep me in perfect peace when my heart and mind are STAYED on Him." It's our job to keep our heart/mind/spirit on Him…He WILL take care of the rest….xo

  6. I thought to add in here a bible story about praising, which Linny reminded me… it is in 2 Chronicles 20:21,22… Jehoshaphat was afraid because of the huge enemy armies that were coming to destroy them, so he fasted and prayed… and this is what he decided to do… he put singers of praise before (in front of the army) and then the Lord defeated the enemy… praise does work wonders! 🙂

  7. I have to agree with "Inkling." As a teen I found this hymn encouraging and inspiring, but as an adult with three high-needs (and usually conflicting high needs) children, I sometimes find hymns like this discouraging rather than uplifting. As we go through night after night after night of our children's meltdowns and we see their grief and inner turmoil but can't "fix" it for them, we feel deeply discouraged in spite of "taking it to the Lord in prayer." But I like your response to Inkling and will have to read through it a couple more times. I love that Isaiah passage and once did a word study on the word "stayed." If I studied correctly, that word is used to describe a tent peg that keeps a tent (a wandering person's home) tied down in a mighty wind. For the past five years since our children have come into our home, we have felt like our home is being ripped away by a mighty, uncontrollable wind. Your words remind me tonight that I need to plant a tent peg in the middle of our misery (and joy! we do love our three treasures!) and cling to God's peace. It's just that this is sooooooo much easier said than done! Tonight was a hard night, and tomorrow night will be, too. And the next and the next and the next . . . . Praying for His peace in our lives and home.

    1. I think one of the secrets to life is to keep our focus on "WHY" we are here. Raising kids is tricky. Raising kids with special needs, who came from situations that were painful, etc, is not for cowards! BUT – WHY are we here? it's to bring honor and glory to Him, and only Him. It's to know Him intimately. If life is a walk in the park, we don't have to press into Him, we don't have to spend time with Him, we don't have to pour over His word…and it is there, that we learn dependence and trust. Remember when you are struggling with your treasures that they were most precious to Him first…and you and I have the privilege of loving them through their pain, in their pain, despite their pain, because He loved them first…

      Hope that all makes sense.

      All of our peers from days gone by have been empty nesters for years. But we GET TO love God's most precious treasures up close, we get to help them navigate through life, we GET TO lead them to Christ, and in the process we become more like Him, know Him more, memorize more of His word, and remember that without Him we are nothing…and speaking for myself {and only myself}, if I was an empty nester not giving two hoots for the orphan, I just don't think I would be pressing into Him too much at all. Why would I have to? As I've joked with friends, I am a Mom of Many, and thankfully I don't have time to get into trouble… PS Love the background behind 'stayed'…other translations don't use the word 'stayed' but that's how I've always said it because I needed the word "stayed" – "Lord, my mind is not going anywhere {with your help},I have 'stayed' it on YOU". xo

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