Joseph Medlicott Scriven was born on September 10, 1819 in County Down, Ireland. At age 24, he was engaged to be married, but tragically, his fiancee accidentally drowned the night before the wedding. In 1844, he moved to Canada to serve the Lord here, first settling in Woodstock. In 1857, he moved to Bewdley where he once again fell in love and was due to be married, but in August 1860, his second fiancee fell ill with pneumonia and died. He then dedicated the remainder of his life to spreading the gospel and helping others. Scriven himself shockingly drowned at the age of 66 while suffering from an extremely high fever. His body was laid to rest next to his second fiancee in her family cemetery at Bewdley.
Scriven lived a life marked by suffering and tragedy. On one occasion, while living in the Port Hope area, he was informed that his mother was terribly ill back in Ireland. He wrote a poem entitled “Pray without Ceasing” to encourage her. He never intended for the poem to be published, but it has become one of the best loved hymns of all time. A monument has been erected in Port Hope in memory of Scriven and his beloved hymn.
What A Friend We Have In Jesus
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.