I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say

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I heard the voice of Jesus say, "Come unto Me and rest"

Author: Horatius Bonar (1846)
Published in 1170 hymnals

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Representative Text

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 this dark world's 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.

Source: Christian Worship (2021): Hymnal #703

Author: Horatius Bonar

Horatius Bonar was born at Edinburgh, in 1808. His education was obtained at the High School, and the University of his native city. He was ordained to the ministry, in 1837, and since then has been pastor at Kelso. In 1843, he joined the Free Church of Scotland. His reputation as a religious writer was first gained on the publication of the "Kelso Tracts," of which he was the author. He has also written many other prose works, some of which have had a very large circulation. Nor is he less favorably known as a religious poet and hymn-writer. The three series of "Hymns of Faith and Hope," have passed through several editions. --Annotations of the Hymnal, Charles Hutchins, M.A. 1872… Go to person page >

Text Information

First Line: I heard the voice of Jesus say, "Come unto Me and rest"
Title: I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say
Author: Horatius Bonar (1846)
Meter: D
Language: English
Notes: Spanish translation: See "Oí la voz del Salvador" by Anonymous
Copyright: Public Domain


Despite his intimidating name and physical appearance, Horatius Bonar (1808-89) was a great lover of children and was concerned about how little the children understood of the metrical Psalms that were sung in the Scottish church of his day. "I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say" was one of the over 600 hymns he wrote to address the needs of the churches he served. Interestingly, John B. Dykes (composer of "Holy, Holy, Holy" and "Jesus, the Very Thought of Thee") uses the somber key of G minor to present Jesus' invitation to our weary, thirsty and dark souls in the first half of each verse; in the second half of each verse when the invitation has been accepted and the soul satisfied, Dykes uses the happier key of G major. Take some time to read Jesus' invitations to you as recorded in the Gospels and reflect on your response to Him: Matthew 11:28; John 4:10, 13-14; John 8:12. --Greg Scheer, 1996

I heard the voice of Jesus say. H. Bonar. [Christ's Invitation.] Written at Kelso, and published in his Hymns Original and Selected, 1846, and in the 1st series of his Hymns of Faith & Hope, 1857, in 3 stanzas of 8 lines, and headed, “The Voice from Galilee." It has come into extensive use, and is one of the most popular of the author's hymns. It is often used in Home Mission Services, and is suited thereto. It has been rendered into Latin by Dr. Macgill in his Songs of the Christian Creed and Life, 1876, as “Loquentem exaudivi."

--John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)




Thought by some scholars to date back to the Middle Ages, KINGSFOLD is a folk tune set to a variety of texts in England and Ireland. The tune was published in English Country Songs [sic: English County Songs] (1893), an anthology compiled by Lucy E. Broadwood and J. A. Fuller Maitland. After having…

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