I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say
DESCRIPTION: "I heard the voice of Jesus say, 'Come unto me and rest' Lay down, thou weary one....'" The singer comes to Jesus weary and worn, and finds Jesus a resting place. Jesus freely gives living water and is the light of "this dark world."
AUTHOR: Words: Horatio Bonar
EARLIEST DATE: 1846 (see NOTES)
KEYWORDS: religious nonballad
FOUND IN: US(SE) West Indies(Trinidad)
REFERENCES (3 citations):
ADDITIONAL: Ira D. Sankey, Sacred Songs and Solos (London: Collins, n.d.), #216 ("I heard the voice of Jesus say") (1 text)
Henry Date, Pentecostal Hymns Nos. 1 and 2 Combined (Chicago: Hope Publishing Company, 1894 ("Digitized by Internet Archive")), #120 p. 115, "My Sins Are Taken Away" (1 text, 1 tune)
William T Dargan, Lining Out the Word (Chicago: Center for Black Music Research, 2006), pp. 72-75, ("I heard the voice of Jesus say") (1 text, 1 tune) (transcribed by Dargan in Piedmont Georgia)
Leader Nurse and the Little Flock Spiritual Baptist Church Congregation, "I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say" (on "Spiritual Baptist Music of Trinidad" Folkways LP FE 4234 (1980 (recorded in 1976-1979 by Stephen D Glazier)))
James Garfield Smalls, "Lining a Hymn/I Heard the Voice of Jesus" (on USSeaIsland03)
United Southern Prayer Band of Baltimore, Washington and Virginia, "I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say" (on "African American Congregational Singing: Nineteenth-Century Roots, Wade in the Water, Vol. 2," Smithsonian/Folkways CD SF40073 (1994 (recorded 1989, 1992 by Bernice Johnson Reagon)))
Bright Crowns Laid Up ("I Heard the voice of Twiggins say") (Jon Raven, _The Urban and Industrial Songs of the Black Country and Birmingham_, Broadside, 1977, p. 21)
NOTES [385 words]: Although there are very few traditional collections of this (and those of a sort that I suspect were learned in churches), the tune was popular enough to inspire parodies, so I've included it in the Index.
According to John Julian, editor, A Dictionary of Hymnology, 1892; second edition 1907 (I use the 1957 Dover edition in two volumes), p. 556, this was "Written at Kelso, and published in [Bonar's] Hy[mn]s Original and Selected, 1846, and in the first series of his Hymns of Faith & Hope, 1857, in 3 st[anzas] on 8 l[ines], and headed "The Voice from Galilee...." It has been rendered into Latin by Dr. Macgill in his Songs of the Christian Creed and Life, 1876, as "Loquentem exaudivi."
Julian, pp. 161-162, gives a capsule biography of Bonar, who was born in Edinburgh on December 19, 1808, and attended the University of Edinburgh. He became a member of the Free Church of Scotland after the split with the established church; eventually he became moderator of the Free Church's General Assembly. Julian lists 84 of his writings as in "common usage," but I recognize none of them. One item of his which is NOT in Julian's list is "Only Remembered," which will be better-know to folkies than most of his productions. I suspect the reason Julian does not include it is because it is explicitly heretical (see the notes to that song). Looking at Bonar's other titles, they also appear to contain some rather dubious theology. Which perhaps explains why he was such a big name in a breakaway denomination. - RBW
The recordings by James Garfield Smalls, The United Southern Prayer Band, and The Little Flock Spiritual Baptist Church all illustrate hymn "lining out." In "lining out," the leader tells the coming verse or line to be repeated by the congregation (as opposed to call and response, where the leader sings a line and the congregation responds with a standard line that remains constant throughout the song). Lined out hymns usually have a steady slow beat (see the transcription by Dargan) and are sung early in the service (as opposed to "shouts" which typically are fast and, if anything, gain speed, and are sung late in the service. Dargan has "I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say" as one of the commonly lined out hymns in the Missionary Baptist (for example) repertory (Dargan, p. 27). - BS
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