HYMN FOR LENT 5 I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say
Text: Horatio Bonar (1808-1889) Tune: Kingsfold and various others
1 I heard the voice of Jesus say,
“Come unto me and rest.
Lay down, O weary one, Lay down
your head upon my breast.”
I came to Jesus as I was,
So weary, worn, and sad.
I found in him a resting place,
And he has made me glad.
2 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.
3 I heard the voice of Jesus say,
“I am the dawning light.
Look unto me, your morn shall rise,
And all your 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’ling days are done.
We hear the voice of Jesus speaking throughout the gospels. He speaks in dulcet tones, in quiet tones, angry, but nowhere as powerfully as here when he calls Lazarus out of the grave. His voice breaks through Lazarus’ winding sheet, through the veils of death and raises up the dead man. One commentator imagines it must have been like creation itself, sound sweeping over the abyss and creating life.
This is just after he had wept with Mary and Martha having seen the grief of the world before him. While it wasn’t the first time he had seen the misery and grief of human life, here it struck him hard. It wasn’t just the grieving sisters, but the whole scene. Death, the final enemy, had spoken and now Jesus speaks against it and does it in. This is what he came for.
This is a very human scene. Jesus lives right in the midst of it, feeling it deeply. He also has the power to treat the problem, to heal, forgive, and raise up the dead. A popular song in the 1980s “From a Distance” assures us that God is watching with concern from a distance. I heard it sung in church once and found it ironic—we were celebrating the Lord’s Supper—how much closer could God be to us? We were ingesting him, he came right into our lives, became part of our very flesh, came into the pain and sorrow, the hatred and fear, the joys of life, the new life of a child, our friends, our families, Saturday evenings and Sunday mornings—this is distance? If there’s anything we want to teach our children, it is that Jesus is here now with us.
We can hear his voice calling to us with good news of every kind. Nothing at all distant about it and nothing about it is weak. Powerful enough to call a dead man out of the grave and bring him back to his family and friends. Powerful enough to call each of us out of whatever is killing us and raise us from the dead! “And in that light of life we’ll walk till traveling days are done!" Praise God.
THE RAISING OF LAZARUS Seeing Mary and her friends in tears Moves Jesus deeply, and he begins to weep, Thinking of the tomb, the sum of all our fears.
Earlier he had taught this death was sleep And moments later would call out to the corpse
“Come forth!” But now with the mourners he wept,
Sobbing with grief like he’d never done before. Into all human agony he’d stepped, Born to battle sin, death, and the devil, To break through the impediments of a stone. All of the sorrows of mortal flesh and evil Flooded his soul; our Lord stood there alone,
Bawling with anguish, trying to catch his breath,
The spiny hawthorns beside him fragrant with death.
from Jesus the Harmony by Gracia Grindal
Horatio Bonar was Scotland’s most gifted hymn writer in the mid 19th century. A pastor in the Free Church of Scotland, serving the parish in Kelso for most of his life, he became concerned that children had trouble understanding the metrical psalms of the church, strictly paraphrased with no other songs. So he began writing hymns that children might understand better. This hymn called “A Voice from Galilee“ was among the most popular and famous of his texts. It was published in his collection Hymns of Faith and Hope in 1857. Bonar wrote over 600 hymns like it to teach the faith to children and people who needed to know more than what they could learn from the psalms.
There are several tunes for the text, from Thomas Tallis to John Bacchus Dykes to Ralph Vaughan Williams who set it to the old medieval folk tune Kingsfold. The Dykes and Thomas Tallis’ Third Mode Melody were used in the SBH but the Tallis tune has become the more popular. Amanda Husberg’s setting is among her most well known tunes just now and is much loved.
St. Johns University and St. Benedicts choir/Tallis tune
Choir of Manchester Cathedral/Kingsfold
Songs of Praise/Kingsfold
Amanda Husbergs’ version
St. John’s Episcopal Church, Boulder CO/Tallis