Joseph Medlicott Scriven
(September 10, 1819 - August 10, 1886)
Joseph Scriven, author of the hymn, 'What a Friend We Have in Jesus', died on this day in 1886. Born in Banbridge, Northern Ireland (a few miles where I am currently staying). He is buried in Canada.
Joseph Scriven was the son of Captain John Scriven (Royal Marines) who was a church warden in Seapatrick Parish. He was also one of the vestrymen appointed to build a bridge over the Bann for the convenience of worshippers in the old church.
When Joseph was 16 he registered with Trinity College in Dublin. He left after two years to enter the Addiscombe Military College which trained young gentlemen as cadets for the East India Company. Joseph did not have a strong constitution and he decided he was not made for the rigours of military life and he left this after two years. He returned to Trinity College, achieved a BA and began tutoring families around Ireland.
His life was somewhat tragic. After his fianceÃ©e was killed on the eve of their wedding by falling from a horse into the River Bann, Joseph emigrated to Canada where he became engaged for a second time.
Shortly before he was due to get married, Eliza Roche, his bride to be, died from a chill caught after having beenbaptizedd into thebrethrenn Faith. It was after this that he wrote the famous hymn whose first verse says, "What a friend we have in Jesus, all our grief and sins to bear, what a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer." It was written to bring comfort. It still does.