I heard the voice of Jesus say
|I heard the voice of Jesus say,
“Come unto Me, and rest;
Lay down, thou weary one, lay down
Thy head upon My breast.”
I came to Jesus as I was,
Weary, and worn, and sad;
I found in Him a resting-place,
And He has made me glad.
|I heard the voice of Jesus say,
“Behold, I freely give
The living water: thirsty one,
Stoop down, and drink, and live.”
I came to Jesus, and I drank
Of that life-giving stream;
My thirst was quenched, my soul revived,
And now I live in Him.
|I heard the voice of Jesus say,
“I am this dark world’s Light;
Look unto Me, thy morn shall rise,
And all thy day be bright.”
I looked to Jesus, and I found
In Him my Star, my Sun;
And in that Light of life I’ll walk
Till trav’lling days are done.
Storrs, Connecticut, United States
Horatius Bonar of Scotland possessed the gift of producing vital and lasting spiritual verse more than any other writer of his generation.
He inherited some of his poetic gifts from his grandfather, a clergyman who wrote several hymns, and it is told of Horatius that hymns used to “come to him” while riding on railroad trains.
Born in 1808 in Edinburgh, he was about 40 years old when he came back from a successful pastorate at Kelso to the city of his home and Alma Mater, and became Chalmers’ successor as minister of the Chalmers Memorial Church.
The peculiar richness of Bonar’s sacred songs very early created for them a warm welcome in Christian circles, and any spiritual lyric or poem with his name attached to it was sure to be read.
Dr. Bonar died in Eddingburg, July 31, 1889. Writing of the hymn, “I heard the voice, ” Dr. David Breed calls it “one of the most ingenious hymns in the language, ” referring to the fact that the invitation and response exactly split each stanza between them—song followed by counter song. “Ingenious” seems hardly the right word for division so obviously natural and almost automatic. It is simple art beauty that a poet of culture makes by instinct.
The old melody of “Evan, ” long a favorite and since known everywhere through the popularity given to it in the Gospel Hymns has been in many collections connected with the words. It is a good congregational psalmody, and suited to the sentiment, taking line by line, but it divides its stanzas into quatrains, which breaks the continuity. “Evan“ was
composed by Dr. Mason in 1850 from a song written 4 years earlier by Reverend William Henry Havergal, Cannon of Avenue Worcester Cathedral, England. He was the father of Francis Ridley Havergal.
The more ancient “Athens, ” by Felice Giardini (1716-1796), author of the “Italian Hymn, ” is used by many communities for Bonar’s hymn. It is a simple tune and the involuntary accent of its sextuple time, exactly reproducing the easy Iambic of the verses made it popular, and many old singers today will only use this music with “I heard the voice of Jesus say. ”
“Vox Jesu, ” from the Adante is one of the quartets of Louis Spohr (1784-1859), is a psalm-tune with good harmony, but not much feeling.
An excellent tune for all the shades of expression in the hymn is the arrangement by Hubert P. Main from Franz Abt— in A flat, triple time. It is gentle music throughout the first 15 bars, in alternate duet and quartet, utters the voice of Jesus with accent of the lines and the second portion completes the harmony in glad, full chorus—the answer of the human heart.
“Vox Dilecti” by Dr Dykes, goes even further and writes the Master’s Voice in B flat minor—which is a sweeter tune than a sad one. it is a tune of striking chords, but its shift of key to G natural (major) after the first four lines seems more for a choir performance than for a congregational hymn.
Louis Spohr was Director of the Court Theater Orchestra in Casellas, Prussia in the first half of the 1800’s. He was a well respected composer of vocal and instrumental music and one of the greatest violinists of Europe.
Hubert Platt Main was born in Ridgefield, CT, Aug. 17, 1839. He read music at sight when he was only 10 years old, and at 16 began writing hymn-tunes. He was assistant compiler with both Bradbury and Woodbury in their various publications, and in 1869 became bookmaker of the firm of Biglow and Main. As music editor in the partnership he superintended the publication of more than 500 music books, and other services.
(Brown and Butterworth)
Jesus is always near us to bring us to His rest
Robins, IA, United States
Thank you! That song really blessed me.
Buffalo Mills, PA, United States
What a blessing to sing this hymn this morning as I wake up here in Pennsylvania! I sang this hymn many times as a child of missionaries in India. And it is just as true in my seventies with dementia settling in as it was as a child, if not more so!!!
Osogbo, Osun State, Nigeria
May God be praised for revealing this wonderful words to us at such a time like this.
The tune is divine, the lyrics are inspired by the Holy Ghost. Look and live. Wow! I'm awed.
Thank you O God. I love you.
Oh, how refreshing this hymn is to my soul. I've found in him a resting place and he has made me glad.
This hymn points to three of the Lord’s personal invitations to mankind, which are followed by human responses and their spiritual results:
Stanza one-Come to Me (Matthew 11:28); I came, I found rest and gladness.
Stanza two-Drink of My Living Water
(John 4:10, 13-14); I came, drank, and life revived.
Stanza three-Look Upon My Light ( John 8:12); I looked and shall henceforth walk in that light.
The music for this text, was written in 1868 by John B. Dykes, noted English musician of the nineteenth century. The hymn tune’s name, “Vox Dilecti, ” is Latin for “Voice of the Beloved. ” As is true of all of Dykes’ tunes, this music is characterized by the expressive quality of the typical Romanticism of that era.
He also wrote the music for hymns such as “Holy, Holy, Holy” (No. 6), “Jesus the Very thought of Thee” (No. 209) and “Father to Thee A Joyful Song We Raise” (No. 52).
Horatius Bonar is by many considered to be one of Scotland’s most gifted evangelical ministers and hymn writers. He was born on December 19, 1908 in Edinburgh, Scotland.
In 1843, He became active in promoting the Free Church Movement because a split had occurred in the established Church of Scotland. Bonar was a man who had great energy and ability. He was a zealous
soul-winner, scholar of the Scriptures, and eloquent Presbyterian preacher.
One of his tracts, “Believe and Live, ” had more than a million copies published. Bonar wrote approximately 600 hymns, 100 of which are still used today.
“I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say” is considered his finest hymn. It first appeared in his collection “Hymns, Original and Selected” in 1846 and later in his “Hymns of the Faith and Hope” in 1862 with the title “The Voice from Galilee. ”
Bonar wrote this hymn while pastoring the Presbyterian Church at Kelso, Scotland. He had a love for children and was burdened that they learn about Christ and His person at an early age. Even though he had a simple writing style, his hymns contain deep spiritual truths.
Horatius Bonar died on July 31, 1889 and is buried beside his wife in Canongate Kirkyard.
Rochester, Kent, United Kingdom
Listening to Premier Christian Radio Hearts and Hymns Sunday8. 40 heard the author’s story. He and his wife lost 5 babies but here we have his response what a comfort and encouragement to be a Pilgrim don't give up Christ has you in mind!
Abuja, FCT, Nigeria
I am just meditating on this hymn in the aircraft right about now with tears and passion for my Christ and Saviour. Thank you Jesus.
Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom
I wonder what Horatius Bonar would think if he knew that people from all over the world would be appreciating his hymn more than 150 years later. His body is buried in the Canongate in Edinburgh from where he awaits the resurrection.