December 14

A Tragedy Stricken Poet Wrote Alabama’s “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” 

While the song has been around for decades, Alabama was the one that made “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” mainstream and more meaningful with their impressive rendition of it. Made up of cousins Teddy Gentry, Randy Owen, and the late Jeff Cook, Alabama became one of the most successful country music bands. Especially after their twenty-one No. 1 singles streak in the 1980s.   

Although “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” is considered one of Alabama’s Greatest Hits, it is an old song. The famous hymn got written in 1855 by a poet named Joseph Scriven. 

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Scriven, born in Ireland during the 1820s, went through many tragedies in his life. The evening before his wedding, Scriven’s fiance drowned. He also experienced turmoil in his family relationships. These hardships drove him to follow the teachings of the Plymouth Brethren. 

When Scriven moved to Canada to practice teaching, he got engaged again. Sadly, tragedy strikes once more as his fiance dies of illness days before their wedding. 

All the tragedies he experienced made Scriven develop strong empathy toward the poor and elderly. He even spent a good amount of his time on earth, sawing wood for the stoves of such individuals. 

Joseph Scriven wrote “What a Friend We Have in Jesus,” which Alabama made globally famous decades later, to comfort his mother in Ireland. The poet didn’t even consider getting noticed for penning the song. In fact, the discovery of his authorship of the hymn was by accident. It happened before his passing. 

As for Alabama, the group came up with forty-three singles that made it to the No. 1 spots on multiple charts. By 1998, the group received its Hollywood Walk of Fame star and, in 2005, got inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. Only a few bands can come close to Alabama regarding their influence and presence in the country music industry. 

Now, if you are someone that wants to hear “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” by Alabama, you can do so by clicking here. 



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