Irish-born Joseph M. Scriven (1819-1886) wrote the words of this classic hymn near Port Hope, Ontario, in 1855. Scriven's life was filled with difficulties, poor health having forced him to give up his ambition of a career in the army, and in 1844 his fiancée died in a drowning accident on the eve of their wedding. In the wake of his grief, Scriven moved to Ontario, Canada where he made a new life for himself as a teacher. However, his plans for marriage were dashed again when his new bride-to-be died after a short illness in 1855. Scriven wrote this heart-warming hymn, with the words "Oh, what needless pain we bear," to console his sick mother in Dublin. Originally a poem, it is thought his intention was to comfort her after the death of his second fiancée.