Hymn Story

Come, Ye Disconsolate

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The author of this hymn, Thomas Moore (1779-1852), was best known as an Irish poet and balladeer.  He wrote a number of popular songs, to include, “Believe Me, if All Those Enduring Charms.” He also wrote “Irish Melodies,” a collection of Irish songs that proved quite popular.  Many people consider him to be Ireland’s national bard—Ireland’s answer to Scotland’s Robert Burns.

Moore also rubbed shoulders with a number of important people, to include the Prince of Wales and President Thomas Jefferson.  He is known to have disliked Jefferson—perhaps because Moore was a small man, and when they first met, Jefferson mistook him for a child.

In 1824, in his mid-forties, Moore surprised people by publishing his Sacred Song Duets, which included “Come, Ye Disconsolate.”  Thomas Hastings later revised the words to this hymn, especially verse three.  Most students of hymnody believe that Hastings’ work dramatically improved Moore’s work—and it is the revised words that we find in hymnals today.

This hymn invites the disconsolate (those who are unhappy) to bring their miseries to the God’s mercy seat, and assures them that “Earth has no sorrow that heaven cannot heal” (v. 1).  With minor changes, that line also concludes verses 2 and 3.

This hymn, then, has as its central theme the relief of those who have found life disappointing—and who among us has not, at some time or other, been crushingly disappointed.  We need to hear the promise, “Earth has no sorrow that heaven cannot heal.”  We need to know that the Great Physician will restore us and make us whole.

Scripture quotations from the World English Bible.

Copyright 2014, Richard Niell Donovan