Joseph M. Scriven originally wrote What a Friend We Have in Jesus to comfort his ailing mother who was living in Ireland. He published the poem a number of years later at a friend’s insistence. The name of the collection of poems was simply entitled Hymns and Other Verses. Scriven and Converse did not intend for their respective lyrics and melody to be joined together. In fact, during World War I, Converse’s score was actually paired with the words, “When This Bloody War is Over.” It was a man named Ira D. Sankey that popularized the hymn when he published it in the well-known collection, Sankey’s Gospel Hymns Number One in 1875.