Posted by: rcottrill | January 11, 2012

Hark, the Voice of Jesus Calling

Words: Daniel March (b. July 21, 1816; d. Mar. 2, 1909)
Music: Ellesdie, attributed to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (b. Jan. 27, 1756; d. Dec. 5:1791)

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: Mozart’s impressive full name is actually Johann Chrysostom Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart! As to the tune Ellesdie (also used with Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken), there is no direct evidence that Mozart is the composer. In a book called Winnowed Hymns (1873), it is identified as “Air, Mozart, Arr. by H.P.M.”–the latter likely referring to Hubert Platt Main. Hubert Main (1839-1925) was a music editor and publisher, and he wrote the music for over a thousand gospel songs. Some have speculated that the tune name Ellesdie may originated with an unknown composer with the initials L.S.D.

Daniel March’s hymn has six stanzas, as found in the Cyber Hymnal. The hymn book that I have on my desk at the moment uses only CH-1, 2, and 6. It is unfortunate that many congregations won’t be exposed to other parts of the song. Each stanza makes a valid (and, at times, singularly convicting!) point.

The inspiration for the song comes from the vision of Isaiah of the glory of God (the “Us” in the text seeming to represent a Trinitarian commission, coming from God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit). Isaiah says:

“I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: ‘Whom shall I send, And who will go for Us?’ Then I said, ‘Here am I! Send me’” (Isa. 6:8).

CH-1) Hark, the voice of Jesus calling,
“Who will go and work today?
Fields are ripe and harvests waiting,
Who will bear the sheaves away?”
Long and loud the Master calls us,
Rich reward He offers free;
Who will answer, gladly saying,
“Here am I, send me, send me”?

It is quite true that there is “rich reward” in serving the Lord. However, in the context in Isaiah, that is certainly not immediate! The prophet is called upon the proclaim the message of the Lord to a rebellious and unbelieving nation that will soon be devastated and taken into captivity (vs. 9-12)–though God graciously speaks of a future restoration (vs. 13). Jeremiah too, at the eleventh hour before the Babylonian Captivity of Israel, was sent to minister to a hardened people (Jer. 1:17-19).

I encourage you to take a look at the Cyber Hymnal link and read over all the stanzas. Perhaps they could be printed in your church bulletin in order for all to be blessed by them. They have something to say to us all. Here are a couple of examples:

CH-2) If you cannot cross the ocean,
And the distant lands explore,
You can find the lost around you,
You can help them at your door;
If you cannot give your thousands,
You can give the widow’s mite;
What you truly give for Jesus,
Will be precious in His sight.

CH3) If you cannot speak like angels,
If you cannot preach like Paul,
You can tell the love of Jesus,
You can say He died for all.
If you cannot rouse the wicked,
With the judgment’s dread alarms,
You can lead the little children
To the Saviour’s waiting arms.

1) Do you know personally of faithful servants of God who have laboured in a difficult area, and experienced discouragements? (Please pray for them.)

2) How might we encourage others who feel there’s nothing they can do for the Lord, helping them to see some ministry they can take up for Him?

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal


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