Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Music (03/08/07)
- TITLE: The Story Behind the Song
By Marilyn Schnepp
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Tonight was to be their last rendezvous as two separate entities, tomorrow they'd say "I DO" and become One.
She was right, of course, Joseph was indeed waiting in the shadows across the bridge; his heart beating in sync with the echoing sound of speeding hooves coming across the bridge, getting closer and closer ....but suddenly the hoof beats stopped, as did his heart - when in disbelief and horror he watched the horse rear up, throwing his bride-to-be into the murky waters below.
Despite his frantic effort to reach her, he was too late.
Haunted by the tragic accident and trying to forget his sorrow and loss, the twenty-four year old Joseph Scriven left his beloved Ireland and migrated to Canada, where for the next forty-two years he lived in melancholy. His work consisted of doing small carpentry jobs and sawing wood, but only for the poor, the widows, or the sick.
In his loneliness, Joseph found companionship with the ONE who is described by Isaiah as "the Man of Sorrows and acquainted with grief"; and by apostle Paul as the ONE who is "touched with the feeling of our infirmities." He began to write poetry about this special friendship between himself and his Lord, but kept it a secret from the world.
On his death bed, however, a neighbor found one of his poems in a drawer beside his bed, and when questioned about the authorship of such beautiful thoughts, Joseph replied, "The Lord and I wrote it between us."
Today, Joseph Scriven's poem which was set to music in 1857, still occupies the number three spot on the Favorite Hymns List, which testifies to the popularity of this well known hymn:
"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."
Joseph Scriven died at sixty-six years of age and was buried at Rice Lake in Ottawa, Canada. The Eulogist read the following at his funeral, which was attended by his friends...the poor, the widows and those he had helped along the way:
"He did not build a railroad or amass a fortune, but did more than that. He contributed thoughts to music that will outlive both railroads and fortunes. His thoughts put into music will go on enriching lives long after all material things have crumbled and perished."
The Eulogist's words still ring true today, as more than a century has passed, and yet "What A Friend We Have in Jesus" still ranks as one of the Favorite Hymns of all-time. Joseph Scriven's hymn will continue to bring music to the ear, comfort to the broken hearted, and peace to Man's restless soul.
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