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In the town of Port Hope in Ontario, there is a monument erected, not for a politician or a war hero, but for a poor, unselfish working man who gave most of his life and energy to help those who could not repay him.

Joseph Scriven was born in Dublin 1820. In his younger days, he had the potential of becoming a great citizen with high ideals and great aspirations. At the time, he was engaged to a beautiful young woman who had promised to share in his dreams, but on the eve of their wedding her body was pulled from a pond into which she had accidentally fallen and drowned.

Joseph never overcame the shock. Although he was already a college graduate and ready embark on a brilliant career, he began to wander to try to forget his sorrow. His wanderings eventually brought him to Canada where he spent the last forty-one of his sixty-years. It was during this time that he became a devoted Christian. One of the results of his new-found faith was that he did a lot of work to help poor widows and sick people. In fact, a lot of times he worked for free.

He had a secret ability, though. You see, he was a bit of a poet. Nobody knew about it because he kept it a secret. But a short time before his death, a friend was sitting with him while he was ill. And while visiting, this friend discovered a poem Joseph had written to his mother during a time of sadness.

This poem was later set to music and has become a favourite hymn. From what I understand, it’s actually the first song that many missionaries teach in their works. In the polls and surveys taken to determine the popularity of hymns and Gospel songs, Joseph’s poem is always near the top. Some of you probably know this hymn. It’s actually one of my favourites. It says:

"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."

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