Simple man’s legacy is the most loved song about Jesus

Published 5:48 am Monday, October 3, 2022

In the town of Port Hope, Canada, there stands a monument, not for the leading citizen who had died, but for a poor, unselfish working man named Joseph Scriven who gave most of his life and energy to help those who could not repay him.
Scriven was born in Dublin in 1820. In his youth, he had the prospect of becoming a great citizen with high ideals and great aspirations.
He was engaged to a beautiful young woman who had promised to share his dreams, but on the eve of their wedding her body was pulled from a pond into which she had accidentally fallen and drowned.
Young Scriven never overcame the shock.
Although a college graduate and ready to embark on a brilliant career, he began to wander to try to forget his sorrow.
His wanderings took him to Canada where he spent the last 41 of his 66 years.
He became a very devout Christian.
His beliefs led him to do servile labor for poor widows and sick people. He often served for no wages.
It was not known that Mr. Scriven had any poetic gifts until a short time before his death.
A friend, who was sitting with him in an illness, discovered a poem he had written to his mother in a time of sorrow, not intending that anyone should see it. His poem was later set to music and has become a much-loved gospel song.
It is said to be the first song that many missionaries teach their converts.
In polls taken to determine the popularity of hymns and gospel songs, his poem set to music is always near the top.
What was his poem?
“What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear.
What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer.
Oh, what peace we often forfeit, oh what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.”
Sept. 28 was “See You at The Pole” day—when students all over the U.S. gathered around their flag poles before school begins to pray for their parents, teachers, and government leaders. “See You At The Pole” is a student-led prayer movement that allows students to publicly express their faith and dependence upon God.
At this time, when our nation’s students are being bullied and suicide is the third leading cause of death for teenagers, our schools need all the support they can get– including prayer support.
This year’s theme is “Never let the fire in your heart go out.
Keep it alive… Pray.”
It is based on Romans 12:11-12 which reads: “Be fervent in spirit; serving the Lord…continue instant in prayer.”
God is waiting for His people to unite together, repent of their sins, seek Him and then He will answer us.
Former F.B.I. chief, J. Edgar Hoover once said: “The spectacle of a nation praying is more awe-inspiring than the explosion of an atomic bomb.
The force of prayer is greater than any possible combination of man-made or man-controlled powers, because prayer is man’s greatest means of tapping the infinite resources of God.
Invoking by prayer the mercy and might of God is our most efficacious means of guaranteeing peace and security for the harassed and helpless people of the earth.”
Some may think that prayer is futile but Joseph Scriven understood the power in prayer and God has invited us to call on Him…so let’s accept His invitation and see what happens.
For more information on “See You At The Pole,” visit

Rev. Doug Johnson is the senior pastor at Raven Assembly of God in Raven, Virginia.

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