"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." Matthew 11:28-30. For centuries these familiar verses have been an inspiration and challenge to many. They may also have been the inspiration for the writing of this week's hymn choice. Horatius Bonar (1808 - 1889) entered the ministry as the pastor of the North Parish in the rural town of Kelso in Scotland. He spent 20 years there pastoring, writing, and engaging in evangelism. In Bonar's day the Scottish church had no substantial library of hymns since they sang metrical Psalms almost exclusively. Bonar had begun to write hymns before his ordination when he was serving as superintendent of a Sunday school. He found that the youth had little love for either the words or the tunes they were singing, so he set out to write a few hymns with simpler lyrics and already familiar tunes. These hymns were well received. Perhaps his love of children came from the fact that he and his wife lost five of their own in rapid succession, yet he had hundreds in his Sunday Schools. In later life, his widowed daughter and her five children had to move in with him. Bonar rejoiced for to him it was as if God had given him five children to replace those he had lost. In any case, while many of his hymns were originally written for children, they were so full of sound teaching that adults loved to sing them as well. The four stanzas of "I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say" present several of our Lord's pointed, personal invitations to mankind and the promises attached to them. In the second pair of lines in each stanza, the individual's acceptance of the invitation, and the spiritual results promised, are described. Stanza One: "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." (Matt. 11:28) Stanza Two: "Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. " (John 4:14) Stanza Three: "I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." (John 8:12) Stanza Four: "In my Father's house are many mansions . . . I go to prepare a place for you." (John 14:2). Meditate this week upon the words of Dr. Bonar's hymn and consider how you've responded to each of the invitations of Jesus which are shared in the words.
1. 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.
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 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'ling days are done.
4. I heard the voice of Jesus say,
"My Father's house above
Has many mansions; I've a place
Prepared for you in love."
I trust in Jesus - in that house,
According to His word,
Redeemed by grace, my soul shall live
Forever with the Lord.
The words of this hymn have been sung to m,any different tunes. Here are several for you to listen to.