Text: Thomas Moore (1779-1852);
Thomas Hastings (1784-1872)
Music: Samuel Webbe (1740-1816)
Tune name: CONSOLATION
This hymn was first published in 1824 in a collection intended for soloists, not choirs or congregations. It was later adjusted to make it more usable as a congregational hymn. The author of the first two stanzas — Thomas Moore — was a celebrated Irish poet and a close friend of Lord Byron (as well as his literary executor). Moore was a popular writer of secular verse, many of which were set to Irish tunes. These include “The Last Rose of Summer” and “The Minstrel Boy.” His popularity has led some to say that he is to Ireland what Robert Burns is to Scotland: a national bard. His hymn-writing was a minor portion of his writing, with 32 hymns bearing his name.
The third stanza of this hymn was added to the hymn when it was published in the 1831 Spiritual Songs for Social Worship, edited by New England church musicians Lowell Mason and Thomas Hastings. Mason’s work is examined here. Hastings is thought to have written the third stanza to Moore’s hymn, as well as about 600 of his own hymns and nearly 1,000 tunes. The most famous of his tunes is TOPLADY, traditionally tied to “Rock of Ages’ (#471).
1. Come, ye disconsolate, where’er ye languish;
come to the mercy seat, fervently kneel:
here bring your wounded hearts, here tell your anguish;
Earth has no sorrow that heav’n 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 sorrow that heav’n 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 of love; come, ever knowing
Earth has no sorrows but heav’n can remove.
The pensive sweetness of CONSOLATION makes it suitable for the text of this hymn. The tune was originally written in 1792 for solo voice and for the ancient Marian hymn, Alma Redemptóris Mater (“Loving mother of the Redeemer”). The composer, church musician Samuel Webbe, was also the arranger of the tune ROCKINGHAM as sung with “My God, thy table now is spread” (#203). It was later arranged by Mason and Hastings for use as a hymn.
Below is Andrew Remillard’s rendition of this hymn on piano.