I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say

Text by: Horatius Bonar 1846

Here are three recordings I have done so far which use different tunes with this text. There are still several settings I haven’t recorded yet.

https://youtu.be/GHylH7m8TeE

https://youtu.be/9lsdGLqOjEI

https://youtu.be/Ml6hbTEoLJI

  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.

Horatius Bonar, 1808-1889, was a Scottish pastor and prodigious hymn writer.

Yes, Bonar wrote over 150 hymns, many still used regularly today. But the more important question is how Bonar came to be a hymn writer in the first place. The roots of this story start all the way back to the time of Emperor Constantine who first brought the church under the physical protection of the state; which was the subject of our conversation several weeks ago. The historical threads of Bonar’s work begin there; they drift onto our very own shores during the colonial era, our Declaration of Independence, and the writing of our Constitution. The thread returns to Scotland and lands firmly in the Church of Scotland during the first 1/2 of the 1800’s.

When Constantine brought the church under the State’s protection he began a millennial long conflict. Who is the Head of the Church? Is it Christ? Or is it man? If you accept the protection of the Emperor, how much control and influence do you yield to the Emperor for that protection?

For most of human history the economic means to establish and build church buildings was limited to the politically powerful. There was little to no “middle-class” and the pheasants could barely get enough to eat every day, let alone have anything left over to build a cathedral.

So as time went on the man who paid for the church to be built also was given authority on all which went on inside the building. You could not even change the order of worship without legislative approval. And the notion of “calling” a pastor to meet the needs of a community didn’t exist. The desires of the politically powerful were what determined who preached to the community.

This was the church (small “c”), established by the state, which is directly countermanded in our Constitution and the world Horatius Bonar lived and worked as a pastor. There was only one church in Scotland and it was the Church of Scotland. That was until the Great Schism of 1843 when about 1/3 of the pastors and congregations left the Church of Scotland to form the Free Church. These men and congregations left everything they had, church buildings, parsonages, pensions, to form a church which had Christ as its head, not a lord or baron or a king.

This divide the country of Scotland, it was a civil war without the bloodshed. It divided families and communities.

So Bonar now finds himself in a community in need of and open to new hymns. His initial forays into music for children proved so successful he continued to write hymns which we sing today.

And the Church of Scotland? By the early 20th century the church had reformed itself significantly, placing Christ as its head and the two churches had largely reunited.