Joseph Scriven, 1819-1886

Joseph Medlicott Scriven.

Joseph Scriven has become more myth than man, since he last trod the streets of Port Hope, in 1886.
He was born at Ballymoney Lodge, Banbridge, County Down, Ireland, and baptised on September 10, 1819, the second child of well-to-do John Scriven (1780-1850), a Captain in the Royal Marines, who served in Canada during the War of 1812, and Jane Medlicott (1787-1866).
Scriven's grandfather, William Barclay Scriven, died at Quebec in 1782.
The family moved from Ireland to England in 1826, and back again in 1834 to live in Dublin.
Joseph attended Trinity College in Dublin at age 16, and although a good student, was of poor health.
In hopes of carrying on the family military tradition, Joseph spent two years at Addiscombe military school in England, but, ultimately being thought physically unfit for a soldier's life, he returned to Trinity College where he received his BA in 1842.
He found work as a tutor and in 1843 planned to take a wife, but his fiance fell from her horse while crossing a bridge, as Joseph stood waiting on the other side, and drowned in the river Bann, the day before they were to marry. This sad event may have helped move him towards one of the Separatist religious societies that had recently been established in Dublin.
Joseph would have been influenced by the ideas of the group, called the 'Brethren', which had its beginnings in Dublin when he was a child. The fundamentalist Plymouth Brethren trusted in the absolute authority of the gospels. Their great holy event was the Pentecost. They cared for none of the established churches, feeling no need of a pulpit or conventional clergy, when every male believer was meant to minister. Joseph first came to Canada in 1845, on the ship Perseverance, and was in Woodstock Ontario when, after a couple of months, he became ill and returned to Ireland.
In 1846, during a trip to the Middle East, as a tutor in the Bartley family, like Saul of Tarsus (called Paul), Joseph found inspiration on the street called Straight, in Damascus. There he is said to have written the first line, 'What a Friend we have in Jesus,' and the rough draft of a poem, later to be called, Pray Without Ceasing.
On his return to the British Isles, he went to England where he stayed in Plymouth and fell in love with a Miss Falconer, only to have a rival take the young lady away from him. They remained friends however and the three travelled together when Joseph came back to Canada in 1847.
Scriven worked as a tutor and lay preacher in the Woodstock and Clinton area, where a Plymouth Brethren group had been formed.
While teaching school in Clinton in 1850 he was offered a position as tutor to Theodore Robert Pengelley, the ten-year-old son of Robert Lamport Pengelley and Lydia Eliza Emily Roche, whose property, Brockland, was near Bailieboro, Ontario. He lived with the Pengelleys for the next five years.
It was here he met Eliza Catherine Roche, Mrs Pengelley's niece, who, in 1850, was 13 years old.
About 1855 Joseph left the Pengelleys and became part of the James Sackville Sr. (1806-1879) household in Bewdley. They were brought together by their similar religious beliefs. He was a friend who became, in effect, a member of the family.
Joseph paid his board by doing chores, such as cutting wood.
It became Joseph's usual practice to spend the winter months in Bewdley and the summers in Port Hope, where he boarded for 22 years with Margaret, nee Brumfitt, the widow of Patrick Gibson, a milkman, in her house on Thomas Street at the corner of Merritt Street, which later became a part of Strachan Street. Mrs Gibson kept at least one cow in a shed on the property, and Joseph helped her carry on her husband's modest dairy business.
In 1859 he and Catherine Roche became engaged. Emily Pengelley was a member of the Church of England, but her faith had already turned in the direction of the Plymouth Brethren. She was converted when Joseph Scriven and Eliza Roche became engaged. He was 39 and Catherine was 22. Prior to the marriage, a baptismal service, including full immersion, was necessary. It was conducted in Rice Lake in April 1860, with the ice barely gone. Eliza, who was already seriously ill with consumption, was thoroughly chilled by the experience, developed pneumonia, weakened over a four-month period and died on the 6th of August 1860. She was buried in the little cemetery beside the Pengelley chapel.
Scriven became a familiar sight around Port Hope, a big man with bushy white hair and full white beard, carrying a buck and a bucksaw, offering to cut wood for anyone who was unable to cut his own, or pay someone to do it for him. But he wouldn't cut wood for hire.
Joseph might preach wherever he found people gathered, in the country or on the street corners of Port Hope, Millbrook or Bewdley, sometimes to their express annoyance. Pelting with fruits and vegetables did not stop him. Arrest didn't deter him.
He gave away his money and most of his possessions and worked to help the poor and the destitute.
After James Sackville Sr. died in 1879, Joseph would stay in Bewdley with James Sackville Jr.

John Percy Sackville (1879-1971) said of his uncle, James Sackville Jr. (1845-1917):
James (my uncle) was born on the Sackville farm and spent his entire life in the neighbourhood. My association with my uncle was a fairly intimate one, over a period of sixty years, and I would like, at this time, to bear testimony to the fact that he had a favourable influence on my life.
He was an especially religious man and devoted much of his life in this field rather than directly in the business world. In fact not a few of those who knew him well, classed him as a fanatic in this connection. He was an adherent of the Plymouth Brethren religious sect. Finally, he built a small frame church on his property, where he held services weekly. He had a small flock of faithful members.
In his latter years, he made minor changes in this building, converting it into a dwelling and led a bachelor's life. He established an apiary, around 50 colonies of bees, the returns from which provided him with a reasonable living the rest of his life.
He was married in 1876 to a Misses Porter who lived in the vicinity of Port Hope, Ontario. They lived in a comfortable brick house that was built on the Sackville holdings a few years earlier, by my grandfather. This house still stands in good repair.

Besides the church where Scriven sometimes preached, Mr Sackville also built a school on the same property. The school has since been torn down, but the church building is still in use as a private residence.
In 1884 Joseph Scriven returned to the Pengelleys at the request of Theodore, to tutor the first four of his sons.
The uncertain circumstances of his death add to the myth of Joseph Scriven. I have read that he was murdered, some believe he was a suicide, but it is generally believed, and it seems likely, that he accidentally drowned in the mill-pond, August 10, 1886, age 66.
Dr Corbett, the coroner, did not think it necessary to hold an inquest. No one knows what actually happened.
Joseph Scriven was buried next to Eliza Roche, in the Pengelley family cemetery. The grave was unmarked for many years, until a Scriven Memorial Committee was set up, resulting in a lavish ceremony on the 24th of May 1920, with the unveiling of a tall memorial stone.
The house at 54 Thomas Street in Port Hope was demolished in 1987 due to contamination from radioactive waste.

The church built on his property by James Sackville, Jr.
Still in use as a private residence.

Undated note, by Emily (Roche) Pengelley, 1811-1895
Memoir of Joseph Scriven, a Man's Philanthrophist
He was the son of a Captain of Marines, he was born in Dublin in the year 1819, educated in Trinity College and subsequently at the Military College, Addiscombe England. Cannot say in what year he came to Canada.
Was teaching school at Clinton from whence he was invited to become private tutor to my son mister T Pengelley, in which capacity he acted for 3 years and subsequently resided under our roof for two years longer. Here he became acquainted with my niece, who died of consumption after an illness of two years.
This brings us to the year 1860 when she died. They had been engaged a year or more at this time. Mister S. left us & made Port Hope more or less his home where he spent and gave away some thousands of dollars, acting the part of a benefactor to the poor of that town & when money failed, working as a labourer for his own support. He died in the neighbourhood of Bewdley in Oct. 1886, where he was itinerating as a kind of Home Missionary. He had previously been suffering from some internal disease from which the doctors at Port Hope were unable to relieve him. Owing to his Christian devotedness and lavish generosity the people may not have been aware of the extreme poverty to which he had reduced himself, when the mysterious fact of his death was brought to their ears. Pecuniary assistance was sent by his brother the doctor in Dublin as soon as he was made aware of his circumstances, but the order on the bank for 20 did not arrive till after Mister Scriven's decease. This is all the information I can give.
L. E. E. Pengelley
P.S. It may interest some to know that Mister Joseph Scriven was the Author of the beautiful hymn, "What a friend we have in Jesus" and other poems.

from the Guide  Saturday August 9, 1873
On Saturday evening August 2, Constable Johnston arrested Joseph Scriven while the latter, as is his wont, was preaching on the street, and conveyed him to the lock-up. Several young men, fearing he would be kept in confinement during Sunday, went to procure his release, but found that C. Brent, J.P., had already set him at liberty.
Mister Scriven, on Monday morning, appeared before the magistrate who told him to cease preaching on the front streets on Saturdays.
Johnston is generally condemned for making the arrest, particularly as profanity and obscenity on the streets go unchecked.

from the Port Hope Times, Thursday, September 2, 1880 Locals
A man named Scribbins has been, for some time past, in the habit of preaching on Ontario street, near Walton, yelling and shouting like a good fellow, occasionally. This man has become a nuisance and we appeal to the authorities to remove him. If he must preach, let him take up a position in the market-square in the afternoon, where he will not be in the way, and where he will not retard anyone from work which requires to be done in a given time. Mister Scribbins may be doing good, but we fail to see it.

from the Guide  Friday, October 15, 1886
Another of Port Hope's well-known citizens has gone to that bourn, from which no traveller ever returns.
Joseph Scriven was the son of an officer in the British army, born in the city of Dublin in 1820, spent 8 years of his youth in Trinity College, Dublin, where he was educated for the church.
He has a brother, Doctor Scriven, residing at Stevens Green, Dublin.
Mister Scriven came to Canada some 40 years ago, and was a tutor to several families in the vicinity of Rice Lake. For the past 22 years he has boarded with Misses Gibson, Thomas street.
He had been sick for some time past, and Mister James Sackville, near Bewdley, took him out to his place on Thursday of last week to recruit his health.
On Sunday he rose early, it is supposed, to come to Port Hope to attend service with his little church here, and in passing over the mill dam, it is supposed he had slipped and fallen in the sluice-way, a hole 6 or 7 feet deep, where the water runs over the dam.
The body was recovered during the day, and Coroner R. A. Corbett was notified, but he did not think it necessary to hold an inquest.
Mister Scriven had not an enemy in the world, he was truly a good man and it is to be hoped the sermons he preached on the streets of Port Hope may be like bread cast upon the waters, the fruit of which may be seen for many days.
The funeral took place on Tuesday from the residence of Mister Sackville, where the accident occurred, to the cemetery at Bewdley.
Misses Gibson, a lady of 82 years, feels very keenly the death of her old friend Mister Scriven.

from the Guide  Friday. October 15, 1886
Many of the poor about Port Hope will miss Mister Scriven. He gave away all that he earned, and in some cases, it is to be feared, to unworthy objects.

from the Guide  November 12, 1886
Mister James Baird received on Monday, from Doctor Scriven of Dublin Ireland, a draft of 20 pounds for Joseph Scriven. It came too late to be of any service to the poor old gentleman.

The Sackville Mill on Cold Creek, late 1800s, looking east across the Sackville Bridge Road. Cavan Road is in the upper left.
Picture from Neil and Brenda (Jackson) Manley.

from the Guide  November, 1900.  Death of Misses James (Jane Jemima 'Jean' Thompson) Sackville
OBITUARY - One of the oldest and most respected residents of these United Counties, died at her home in the Township of Hamilton, on Tuesday, Oct. 30th, 1900. Mrs, J. Sackville, subject of this brief notice, was born at Sunday's Well, near the City of Cork, Ireland, on the 31st, of August, 1813. Came to Canada with her parents in 1826, who settled in the Township of Hamilton, near Rice Lake, when it was a dense wilderness. She was married to the late James Sackville in 1842, who died in 1879.
She leaves to mourn her departure, four sons, William in Texas; James and George, at home in Hamilton Township; and Edward in Oregon. Misses Sackville was a devoted Christian lady, a member of the Plymouth brethren, and a special friend of the late Joseph Scriven, who was the author of that hymn, "What a Friend We Have in Jesus." She was the possesser of the original copy, before it was sent to Ireland, where it first appeared in print in the City of Dublin. The funeral took place on Friday afternoon last at the Pengelly Burying ground. The following gentlemen acted as pall bearers; John Mickie, Thos. Scott, William Coats, Joseph Benson, Henry Huntington, and Richard Kinsman. Service was conducted by the Reverend R. W. Kelly, of Bailieboro.

from the Guide  December 14, 1900
It was changed -
In conversation with a particular friend of the late Joseph Scriven, author of the of the hymn "What A Friend We Have In Jesus," we are informed that a change has been made from the original. In the fifth line of the last verse it originally read, "Has thy brother, sister grieved thee?" instead of "Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?"

from the Guide.  October 11, 1918
Reminiscenses of Joseph Scriven
To the Editors of the Globe -
Having noticed several reminiscenses of Joseph Scriven, hymn writer and author of "What A Friend We Have In Jesus," I beg to offer my little contribution and tribute.
My father, as a boy in his father's home, met and knew Joseph Scriven, and gave me the following information about him:
"At the time that the GTR [Grand Trunk Railway] was being built through from Clinton to Goderich, Mister Scriven 'bached' with another man, just across the road from us, about a mile out from where the town of Clinton now stands, on the Huron Road between Clinton and Goderich."
He came there from Brantford where he taught night school for a while, and was also a tutor for a gentleman's son. He would go on Sundays and preach to the navvies, working on the railroad, getting small thanks for his pains.
And my father said:
"I have worked whole days with him, and he has been in my father's house more than once. He was an Irishman of good family and education, being a graduate of Trinity College, Dublin. He cared little, however, for this world's goods and was always ready and pleased to help others.
In appearance he was a big man, of pleasant countenance and belonged to the religious sect called 'Plymouth Brethren.'
He lived there about 2 years, beloved by all who knew him for his genuine piety."
A lady whose mother knew Mister Scriven in Brantford, just [after] they came to Canada, and afterwards in Clinton, still lives in the home of her mother, near Clinton, where Joseph Scriven spent nights with her parents; the room he slept in being still intact.
Her mother bore the following testimony:
"I never knew another person who was as constant a Christian. He would keep only what he barely needed for his necessities, though pressed to take more. He desired not honour or any worldly thing, but wished to be free to serve his master with a pure conscience in a humble way. He used to write letters for us, and was always so careful to put down only what he knew to be absolutely true about this country, when letters were sent to friends in the old land."
This lady thinks Mister Scriven went to Port Hope from Clinton.
A lady in Toronto, who knew Mister Scriven when she was a small child, says he was given money while in Port Hope, to pay his way to Toronto to attend a religious gathering, but in meeting with a case of distress, he gave away the money and walked from Port Hope to Toronto.
Elizabeth M. Lindsay,
Clinton, Ontario

A view looking north to the wooden bridge over Cold Creek, on Cavan Road. It was replaced with a concrete bridge about 1899. The present-day Sackville Bridge Road runs into the picture at lower left.
The Sackvilles drew water from the millpond near the bridge. The pond was fed by an underground spring which still runs there. It was near here that Joseph Scriven drowned. 
Picture from Neil and Brenda (Jackson) Manley.

from Cobourg Sentinel-Star,  March 23, 1961
The Story Of Joseph Scriven and His Home In Port Hope

In 1895, a few short years after the death of Joseph Scriven, a sketch of his life was written by a contemporary, Reverend James Cleland.
The booklet was published by W. Williamson at Port Hope, in his bookbinding and print shop, above the stationery business, where Randall's store is now located.
The story is contained in a tiny linen-covered 'volume', 5" by 4", running 30 pages of tiny print. It includes six other hymns also: St. John 11:16; Jesus at the Well; I John 11:28; Corinthians XIII; I Corinthians X, and Hebrews III and IV; On John III, 13.
On the frontispiece, the Port Hope home of Scriven is pictured.
In our modern Hymnology, few of our hymns have attained such a wide-spread popularity as the one entitled "What A Friend We Have in Jesus." Without the endorsement of any well known name - in fact without any recognized paternity - its circulation has been world wide and its 'unsurpassed excellency' universally acknowledged. Its high worth is attested by the fact that it has been attributed, without authority, to Horatius Bonar, and to others of our great hymn writers. A few interesting facts in relation to it are taken from articles which appeared in the New York Observer about a year ago - some mistakes in these are corrected, and some reliable information, both new and important, supplied as to it's author. It has been translated into many languages, and "over 50 million impressions of the piece are known to have been made." Mister Ira Sankey states that wherever he has sung it, it is a greater favourite with the people than any other. No doubt one cause of its popularity is due to the music to which it is set, and which was furnished by Mister C Converse, an accomplished musician. The tune is one "which the people make their own - a sacred folk song." Criminals on the scaffold have requested to have it sung to them. Mister Van Meter states that it has been sung in the sweet Italian tongue, under the walls of the Vatican. It has sung its way to millions and millions of souls, inspiring comfort and hope in the stormy passages of life. In the steerage of the steamer, a traveller, returning from Europe, heard a mixed company who spoke different languages, united in singing this hymn.
The white clapboard house still stands on Strachan [Thomas] Street, as in the above picture. A tiny porch has been added since the early booklet was published.
Naturally much interest has been taken in the inquiry - "Who was its author?". In a letter to the New York Observer, in March, 1893, it was stated that it was written by Joseph Scriven - an obscure local preacher, blind in his latter years - and found after his death among his papers.
Joseph Scriven was, without doubt, the author of this matchless hymn. He was born in Dublin, about 1820, and was a graduate of Trinity College Dublin. He also spent four years at Addiscombe Military College, near to London. He emigrated to Canada over forty years ago. His family is highly respectable, and his brother is a physician of standing, in Stephens Green, Dublin. The special reasons for his emigration are not known to his friends here, but it may have been his conversions.
About 1850 he came to the neighborhood of Rice Lake - 10 miles from Port Hope, Ontario - and engaged as tutor in the family of Lieut. Pengelly. He at this time was a professedly religious man, having also embraced, to a large extent, the tenets of the Plymouth Brethren, though he did not belong to the body. He gathered a small Plymouth church at Rice Lake, and was for years a preacher on market and other days, in the streets of Port Hope.
Like his Brethren, he refused to join in the services of any of our churches - not recognizing them as such - and only when his peculiar tenets were questioned, was he liable to lose command of an otherwise smooth temper.
When converted, Mister Scriven probably united with some Separatist Society.
The history may have been something like this:
About 1840 there was a strong religious movement in Dublin. A number of earnest Christian men, who desired to more devotedness to Christ, and closer union among the people of God, associated themselves together for religious fellowship and study, meeting together as disciples of Christ on every Lord's Day, "to break bread." Before this there had been a Separatist Society founded by John Walker, an ex-fellow of Trinity College, on somewhat similar grounds. His society was, he asserted, the One spiritual church in Dublin. He died in 1833. Another Separatist Society was that of the Rev. J. Kelly, a former minister of the Church of England, and who is well known as the writer of many choice hymns. He died in 1855.
With the keen controversies carried on in Dublin, in connection with the prominent doctrines of these and kindred societies, Joseph Scriven must have been familiar. The members were drawn from the different churches, and as Mister Scriven states, "there was a unity and love and sweet fellowship among them." When saved, he united with them, though he adds, "I knew nothing, and today I know very little, of the power of the principles which I claimed."
His benevolence, in accordance with his principles, was of the extreme kind. In one of the papers, which he has left behind him, he says:
"The wearing of gold and expensive clothes, made in the world's style, is as much forbidden as stealing. If I spend five cents on some unnecessary thing for ornament, it costs that much money, and that money would buy something for a needy person.
Again; the Scriptures, to which I have just referred, speak only of women's clothing, but if a man wears cuffs, that are no part of his shirt, and only put on for ornament, if he wears studs, gold chains and clothing of a more expensive kind than what would be durable and afford the same comfort, he is as much disobeying the word of God, as a woman who wears feathers, earrings, bracelets. If we would avoid unnecessary and unscriptural expense, there would be no need of asking the people of the world for money to carry on Christ's work, or of getting up concerts, banquets and other un-scriptural means of coaxing money from the people of the world, as though Christ needed to beg from Satan."
When Mister Scriven had means, his hand was open as day to the calls made upon him. He has been known to divest himself of his own clothing, in order to cover the nakedness and relieve the sufferings of destitute ones. He was always ready to minister in the sick chamber to the suffering, and fear of infectious disease was no hindrance.
He established and managed a dairy, for over 20 years, at Port Hope, in order to afford support to a destitute widow.
When residing at the house of his friend Mister Sackville, near Rice Lake, he composed this hymn; making two copies, one of which he sent to his mother, in Dublin, and gave the other to Misses Sackville, which the old lady, now over eighty years of age, values highly. Probably it was through his mother that the hymn was given to the public.
Mister Scriven published a small volume of hymns, which was printed at Peterboro, Ontario. The hymn in question was not in it, and was probably written at a later time. Some of them - of which we give specimens - are not inferior in poetic power to this celebrated hymn.
Mister Scriven resided for over 30 years between Rice Lake and Port Hope. Latterly his mind was much depressed, and he feared being left a burden on his friends. His health also was failing. A dark shadow rests on the closing days of his life, as will be seen in an extract from a preface to some thoughts of his, on various subjects, by his life long friend, James Sackville, at whose house he died.
He died on the 10th of August, 1886, aged sixty-six, and his body was interred in the family burying ground of Lieut. Pengelly.
Some of the circumstances that cluster around Mister Scriven's death are detailed in a preface to papers that he left, by his friend Mister Sackville.
"His body was just worn down with toil, and his mind was wearied with failure and disappointment in his work during past years. In the end of his days he failed to trust God to provide for his body wants, and to resign himself to the will of God, and to wait patiently till the Lord's time came to release him from the body, and to take him home to Himself." Mister Sackville, having heard of his illness, hastened to him, and found him "just prostrate in mind and body. His greatest fear appeared to be lest he should do anything to dishonour God, or bring reproach on the name of Christ. The one desire and prayer of his heart seemed to be expressed in the words which he was heard to speak a few days before his departure, 'I wish the Lord would take me home.' His confidence in the Lord, as to his own personal safety, and the bright prospect of future glory, were firm and unshaken, to the end. Two scriptures I heard him repeat, during the last hour I was with him, 'I am the Lord's' and 'I will never leave thee nor forsake thee'."
Mister Sackville brought him to his own house. "We left him," he says, "about midnight. I withdrew to an adjoining room, not to sleep, but to watch and wait, and occupied myself with reading my brother's writings, until about 5 o'clock in the morning. You may imagine my surprise and dismay, when, on visiting his room, I found it empty. All search failed to find any trace of the missing one, until a little after noon, the body was discovered in a water nearby, lifeless and cold in death.'
"A veil of mystery hangs over the last hours of my beloved brother's life on earth. What is known, we read with humiliation to profit, the unknown we leave with Him, who knows what is in the darkness. In his own tune and way, He will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and make manifest the counsel of the hearts."
Mister Scriven left a number of papers on religious topics, such as: "What Church etc.," "The Church of God", "Priesthood," "The Ministration of the Spirit," "Our Assembly," "The Coming of the Lord", "Discipline," etc., etc., which have been published by Mister Sackville.
In concluding this biographical sketch, the writer wishes to acknowledge with thanks the courtesy of Mister Jas. Sackville, in supplying most of the information contained in it, also for the loan of the manuscript containing the hymns now published, with one or two exceptions, for the first time.
On September 10, 1919, a group of hymn-lovers gathered in the town of Port Hope and celebrated the centenary of his birth in a service of loving tribute, held in the Methodist Church. Preceding the service the chimes of the Presbyterian Church rang out the tune of "What A Friend We Have In Jesus." Later in the day a pilgrimage of ministers visited the Pengelley Cemetery, and standing around Joseph Scriven's grave, joined hands and sang reverently the far-famed hymn. There these pilgrims pledged themselves to erect a monument to the hymn-writer.
On the twenty-fourth of May, when Canada celebrated Victoria Day, six thousand people made the pilgrimage to the Pengelley Cemetery to witness the unveiling of the monument and to pay their homage to Joseph Scriven.

Eliza Catherine Roche (1837-1860).
Joseph Scriven's fiance was the daughter of Andrew Roche, a brother of Emily, the second wife of Robert Lamport Pengelley (1798-1875).

In 1850 Pengelley invited Scriven to come from Clinton, Ontario where he was teaching school, to be private tutor to his son Theodore Robert Pengelley (1840-1925).
Scriven lived for 5 years near Bailieboro at the Pengelley home, 'Brockland', so named by Pengelley and his first wife, Harriet Catherine Brock (1809-1836). Here he met Eliza who was already consumptive. In order to join the Plymouth Brethren sect, as she was anxious to do, she first had to undergo a full-submersion baptism. This was carried out in the icy April waters of Rice Lake, and the effects of that dunking hastened her death.
It's likely Joseph wrote this poem in response to Eliza's passing.

They've decked thee o'er with flowers,
But like thyself they'll fade
Ere the freshness of their morning hours
Gives place to evening shade.

They've decked thee o'er with flowers,
No garland they can weave
Will spread such grace around the brow
As Jesus' name will leave.

They've decked thee o'er with flowers,
But lovelier far than they
Will bloom thy bright and loving powers
On Jesus' nuptial day.

They've decked thee o'er with flowers,
And yet no longer thee;
'Tis but the empty prison house
From which thou now are free.

Pointing out the spot where Joseph Scriven's body was found.

Joseph Scriven and Eliza Catherine Roche, supposedly lie buried feet-to-feet, so that when resurrected they will stand face-to-face.

The Scriven memorial in Port Hope, paid for with funds raised by David Kidd, was first erected by Rutter Granite, at the corner of Ontario and Hope Streets. After it was knocked over by a car in 1941, it was dumped behind the library on Queen Street, then moved to the Town shed. It lay around for more than a year before public interest led to its being put in its present location which, before the old Post Office was stupidly torn down in 1970, was the corner of Queen and Hector Streets.

Saturday morning June 14, 2008. A group from Westney Heights Baptist Church, Ajax, Ontario, gathered to sing 'What a Friend We Have in Jesus' at the Port Hope Scriven memorial.
Picture from Mark Clayton

The Scriven memorial in the Pengelley cemetery.

Charles Crozat Converse.
Born October 7, 1834, Warren, Massachusetts; died October 18, 1918, Highwood, New Jersey; buried Bristol Cemetery, Canandaigua, New York.
Wrote the music inspired by the poem 'Pray Without Ceasing' for what became the hymn 'What a Friend We Have in Jesus.'

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.

Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged
Take it to the Lord in prayer!

Can we find a friend so faithful,
Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness
Take it to the Lord in prayer!

Are we weak and heavy laden,
Cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Saviour, still our refuge
Take it to the Lord in prayer.

Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?
Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In His arms He'll take and shield thee
Thou wilt find a solace there.

Click this picture to read W W Williamson's 1895 book on Joseph Scriven.


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