1 Come, you disconsolate, where'er you languish;
come to the mercy seat, fervently kneel.
Here bring your wounded hearts, here tell your anguish;
earth has no sorrows that heaven cannot heal.
2 Joy of the desolate, light of the straying,
hope of the penitent, fadeless and pure!
Here speaks the Comforter, in mercy saying,
"Earth has no sorrows that heaven cannot cure."
3 Here see the bread of life; see waters flowing
forth from the throne of God, pure from above.
Come to the feast prepared; come, ever knowing
earth has no sorrows but heaven can remove.
Psalter Hymnal, 1987
|First Line:||Come, ye disconsolate, where'er ye languish|
|Author and Reviser (st. 1-2):||Thomas Moore (1816, rev. 1824)|
|Author (st. 3):||Thomas Hastings (1832)|
|Liturgical Use:||Confession Songs|
st. 1 = Heb. 4:14-16
st. 2 = Isa. 54:7, John 14:18
Like the previous four hymns, "Come, You Disconsolate" is an invitation, a call for sinners to come to Christ with their sorrows and find healing (st. 1), experience hope and comfort (st. 2), and participate in the feast of the Lamb (st. 3). The text empha¬sizes the consolation that Christ offers to those who turn to him in faith.
Entitled "Relief in Prayer," this text by Thomas Moore (b. Dublin, Ireland, 1779; d. Devizes, Wiltshire, England, 1852) was first published in three stanzas in Moore's Sacred Songs, Duets and Trios (1816), one of his thirty-two hymn texts in that collection. Minor changes were made for the 1824 edition.
Although born and educated in Ireland, Moore spent much of his adult life in England. In 1804 he began a civil service appointment in Bermuda but delegated it to a deputy, who embezzled money that Moore had to pay back! He traveled throughout the eastern United States and Canada in 1840 but then returned to London. Moore became known for two achievements–playing and singing Irish folk songs in aristocratic homes and writing poetry. His publications include a biography of Lord Byron and A Selection of Irish Melodies (1807-1834).
The American composer Thomas Hastings (b. Washington, Litchfield County, CT, 1784; d. New York, NY, 1872) revised Moore's stanzas 1 and 2 and substituted his own third stanza when he published the hymn in Spiritual Songs for Social Worship (1831), compiled by Hastings and Lowell Mason (PHH 96). Like Lowell Mason, Hastings was a rire1ess writer, composer, and promoter of church music in the European style (he thought the shape-note tradition "unscientific"). He wrote some six hundred hymn texts and composed about a thousand tunes, most of which have been forgotten. From 1823 to 1832 he lived in Utica, New York, where he directed the Oneida County Choir and was editor of a religious magazine, The Western Recorder. In 1832 Hastings was invited by twelve churches to come to New York City to improve their psalm singing. He stayed there the rest of his life, composing, writing, teaching, and directing. He published some fifty volumes, including his Utica Collection (1816, later expanded as Musica Sacra), Spiritual Songs for Social Worship (with Mason, 1833), and Church Melodies (1858).
As an invitation hymn in evangelistic services, possibly with altar calls or with the Lord's Supper (note st. 3); useful in the service of confession/forgiveness and comfort/encouragement.
--Psalter Hymnal Handbook, 1987
The original text was written by Thomas Moore for his own collection Sacred Songs in 1816. He revised his poem in 1824. Thomas Hastings took Moore's poem and edited it, replacing the third stanza with one of his own. This text was published in Spiritual Songs for Social Worship in 1831 by Hastings and Lowell Mason, and has become the standard text for this hymn.
Moore's original third stanza began “Come, ask the infidel what boon he brings us,” which challenged unbelievers to find a remedy for sorrow equal to God's comfort. This also gives some insight on what Moore meant by “you disconsolate” in the first stanza – believers only, with their troubles and sadness. With Hastings's third stanza replacing Moore's, it is now easier to read the first stanza as appealing both to believers in need of comfort and to unbelievers who have never felt God’s peace.
The three stanzas of this poem all have a similar final line comparing the sorrows of earth to the power of God in heaven. The first stanza is a call to all of humanity who are downtrodden and sorrowful, while the second describes the comforting God to whom the disconsolate come with their troubles. The final stanza depicts heaven.
Moore wrote his text for a tune by Samuel Webbe, Sr., which may have been arranged from a folk tune, perhaps with German origins. Webbe had published the tune as a vocal solo with the text “Alma redemptoris mater” in his Collection of Motetts and Antiphons in 1792. Hastings and Mason adapted the tune for publication with this text in Spiritual Songs for Social Worship in 1831. A footnote in that publication reads, “Arranged as a Solo and Duet. This arrangement is intended for families, and for small praying circles ….” The principal name of the tune is CONSOLATION, but this is sometimes confused with another tune by the same name (which is also called MORNING SONG). A similar alternate title is CONSOLATOR. Occasionally the tune is called ALMA, after the text with which Webbe paired it. This tune may be sung in unison, as it was originally intended.
This hymn is best suited to services of confession or of comfort and encouragement. Terre Johnson wrote a moving setting of “Come, Ye Disconsolate” for choir with piano accompaniment in memory of the victims of a 2007 tornado in Alabama. Much of the setting is sung in unison or two-part harmony, with the full choir on the final stanza. This setting was also published for vocal solo in “Three Hymns of Hope.”
Tiffany Shomsky, Hymnary.org