Sacred Music Sunday: I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say

Open Bible with Glasses – Photo Credit Aaron Burden – Public Domain

One of my favorite hymn composers is Ralph Vaughn Williams. Every tune he pens brings to my mind the majesty of God. Near the top of the list is the hymn tune Kingsfold, which is based on the Irish folk song Star of the County Down. LDS listeners will be most familiar with it as the tune to If You Could Hie to Kolob. My preferred hymn set to Kingsfold, however, is I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say.

The hymn is a summary of some of the main messages from the life and ministry of Jesus: “Come unto Me and rest.” “I freely give the Living Water.” “Look unto Me.” And the singer gives the results of following these sayings: “I found in Him a resting place.” “My thirst was quenched.” “I found in Him my star, my sun.”

The music and the text are juxtaposed interestingly – hopeful words paired with music in a minor key. However, I think that’s an important message of the gospel. Jesus isn’t just there with us when everything is light and happy. He’s there with us in the minor keys of our lives as well, calling to us, giving us Living Water to quench our thirst, giving us rest.

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,
weary and 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, your morn shall rise,
and all your days be bright.”
I looked to Jesus and I found
in Him my Star, my Sun;
and in that light of life I’ll walk,
’til trav’ling days are done.

I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say – Horatio Bonar – Public Domain
I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say


Trudy is a lawyer living in the southwestern US. She has two cats who allow her to live in their house in exchange for a steady supply of food and treats.

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5 Responses

  1. DeAnn S says:

    Wow – wouldn’t it be something to have this hymns text in our new hymnal?

  2. amphvivian says:

    I vote YES! This is manna to my soul.

  3. Merry says:

    I love this hymn!

  4. MC says:

    These words are much better than the words to “If You Should Hie to Kolob”. The whole idea of Kolob is so outdated in the Church. If we sang the Kingfold melody with the words to “I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say” it would not only be the most popular hymn in the hymnal, but it would be one of the best reminders of who we covenant to be as Christ’s followers. Thanks for sharing.🎵

  5. Tessa says:

    I love this song.

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