Details of Joseph Scriven’s life are somewhat limited, but what is known makes a remarkable story.
He was born in Ireland to a family of comfortable means and educated at Trinity College, Dublin. On the eve of his wedding, his fiancée accidentally drowned. It was a shock from which he’d never recover.
Emigrating to Port Hope area, Joseph taught school and developed a strong faith in Christ. Adhering to a strict life of piety, he gave all his possessions to the poor and became known as The Good Samaritan of Port Hope. He died under mysterious circumstances in August, 1886.
His gifts to the poor of Port Hope were his possessions, but Joseph Scriven’s gift to the world were the many hymns he composed after embracing Christianity, the most notable being, ‘What A Friend We Have In Jesus,’ a song that’s been sung in every Christian church around the world for the past one hundred years.