This is one of my favorite hymns. The melody is a slight modification of Thomas Tallis’ Third Mode Melody, made famous by Ralph Vaughan Williams in his Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis. I did my own “take” on the Tallis in my Yorkminster Lights (Tone Poem No. 2) for Piano and String Orchestra (MP3 / PDF excerpt). When I was recently presented with the opportunity to play cello in church this summer, I quickly settled on doing a new setting of the hymn, scored for voice, cello, and piano. The harmonization is my own (obviously influenced by Tallis), and you can easily hear how the first and last verses are arrangements of portions of Yorkminster Lights (from the sections labeled “Quire” and “Sanctuary”).
The premiere performance was on 31-August-2014 at the Episcopal Church of the Holy Cross, with
Barb Fraley, soprano
Chris Fraley, cello
Eunjung Jung, piano
There are several texts commonly used with this hymn tune, but my favorite is “I heard the voice of Jesus say” by Horatius Bonar (1808-1889).
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, so weary, worn, and sad;
I found in Him a resting place, and He has made me glad.
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.
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 traveling days are done.
For musical convenience, I omitted the text in square brackets.
Contact me if you’re interested in performing the piece at your church!