Joseph Medlicott Scriven

Joseph Medlicott Scriven

Banbridge, County Down, Northern Ireland
Death 10 Aug 1886 (aged 66)
Bewdley, Northumberland County, Ontario, Canada
Burial Pengelly Landing, Peterborough County, Ontario, Canada
Memorial ID 10497 · View Source
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Irish Poet. He is best known as the writer of the poem which became the hymn "What a Friend We Have in Jesus". He was born in 1819 of prosperous parents in Banbridge, Ireland. He was a graduate of Trinity College, Dublin. At the age of 25, he decided to leave his native country and migrate to Canada. His reasons for leaving his country seem to be two-fold: the religious influence of the Plymouth Brethren upon his life estranging him from his family. His fiancée accidentally drowned in 1845, the night before they were to be married. The grief-stricken young man moved to Canada. There he again fell in love, was due to be married and the young woman suddenly fell ill of pneumonia and died. He then devoted the rest of his life to helping others. In 1855, while staying with companion Mr. James Sackville, he received news from Ireland of his mother being terribly ill. He wrote a poem to comfort his mother called "Pray Without Ceasing". It was later set to music and renamed by Charles Crozat Converse, becoming the hymn "What a Friend We Have in Jesus". Joseph did not have any intentions nor dream that his poem would be for publication in the newspaper and later becoming a favorite hymn among the millions of Christians around the world. To this day, no one knows for sure if Joseph Scriven's death was an accident or a suicide. He was in a serious depression at the time. A friend reported, "We left him about midnight. I withdrew to an adjoining room, not to sleep, but to watch and wait. You may imagine my surprise and dismay when on visiting the room I found it empty. All search failed to find a trace of the missing man, until a little after noon the body was discovered in the water nearby, lifeless and cold in death."

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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Added: 8 Jul 2000
  • Find a Grave Memorial 10497
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Joseph Medlicott Scriven (10 Sep 1819–10 Aug 1886), Find a Grave Memorial no. 10497, citing Pengelley Family Cemetery, Pengelly Landing, Peterborough County, Ontario, Canada ; Maintained by Find A Grave .