Posted by: rcottrill | March 29, 2013

Come, Ye Disconsolate

Words: Thomas Moore (b. May 28, 1779; d. Feb. 26, 1852)
Music: Consolator, by Samuel Webbe, Sr. (b. _____, 1740; d. May 25, 1816)

Wordwise Hymns (Thomas Moore, and Samuel Webbe)
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: Moore was a lawyer and public servant, as well as an Irish nationalist. He wrote two secular songs–popular ballads that are still recorded today, nearly two centuries later: The Last Rose of Summer, and Believe Me, If All Those Endearing Young Charms.

The history of the latter song is so touching it’s worth mentioning here to show something about the character of Moore himself.

Apparently Thomas Moore’s wife contracted smallpox. Though she recovered, she was so disfigured by the disease that she refused to be seen by anyone, including her husband. In his sorrow, the author wrote a song to assure her of his love, no matter how she looked. After she heard him sing his song outside her room, she opened the door and gratefully fell into his arms. The song says:

Believe me, if all those endearing young charms,
Which I gaze on so fondly today,
Were to change by tomorrow and flee from my arms,
Like fairy gifts fading away
Thou wouldst still be adored, as this moment thou art,
Let thy loveliness fade as it will;
And around the dear ruin each wish of my heart
Would entwine itself verdantly still.

The only enduring hymn we have from Moore’s pen is the beautiful Come, Ye Disconsolate. The version of the song we have today was altered (admirably, I believe) by another hymn writer, Thomas Hastings (1784-1872), who also wrote the hymn Majestic Sweetness Sits Enthroned. In addition to a few word changes, Hastings dropped Moore’s original third stanza, replacing it with one of his own. (See the Wordwise Hymns link for the original.)

This is a great hymn of comfort, encouragement for the disconsolate in the face of sorrow and loss.

¤ The word “disconsolate” speaks of an unhappy person who has been unable to find any consolation or comfort. The word is not found in the NKJV, but its opposite, consolation, is, many times. The Messiah is called “the Consolation [Comforter] of Israel” (Lk. 2:25), and believers receiver “everlasting consolation,” through Christ (II Thess. 2:16).

¤ If someone is “languishing” (CH-1), it means he or she is being drained of vitality, they’re weakening and withering away for lack of reassurance and hope. During the severe famine in Egypt prophesied by Joseph, we read, “There was no bread in all the land; for the famine was very severe, so that the land of Egypt and the land of Canaan languished [wasted away] because of the famine” (Gen. 47:13).

According to the promises of the Scriptures, the Lord is ready to help those who come to Him in faith. And who are the ones who need grace, and mercy, and comfort? Two particular examples are given in the hymn. Those who are sorrowing, who have “wounded hearts” (CH-1); those who have sinned and strayed from the path, and come in a spirit of repentance (CH-2).

For each believer the hymn reassures us, “Earth has no sorrow that heaven cannot heal.” Through Christ, our great High Priest at the Father’s right hand, there is “mercy and…grace to help in time of need,” and we are invited to “come boldly” before the throne and seek it (Heb. 4:14-16). “Boldly.” That does not mean irreverently, or carelessly, but honestly and openly, with cheerful confidence that we’re coming to One who understands and has compassion on us. (You can hear a beautiful rendering of this great hymn here.)

CH-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.

CH-2) Joy of the desolate, light of the straying,
Hope of the penitent, fadeless and pure!
Here speaks the Comforter, tenderly saying,
“Earth has no sorrow that heav’n cannot cure.”

Of course there is not only an immediate application of this truth, but an ultimate and final one. “Earth has no sorrow but heaven can remove [and remove forever]” (CH-3). The scene in the last stanza is heavenly. And of the saints in the heavenly kingdom we’re told, “God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away” (Rev. 21:4).

CH-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 sorrow but heav’n can remove.

1) In your view, what are the most common reasons people are disconsolate and languishing today?

2) What are some ways God provides help for those in need?

Wordwise Hymns (Thomas Moore, and Samuel Webbe)
The Cyber Hymnal


  1. Thank you, Robert. This has always been a great favourite of mine. I never knew that story — it somehow makes the hymn even better.

    • Thanks for your encouragement. It’s a beautiful hymn. We have a version of it by the St. Olaf College choir that is simply stunning.

  2. […] of the man who wrote it, Thomas Moore, that adds impact.  Read the account from Robert Cottrill at Wordwise Hymns first, to get a glimpse of Moore’s heart.  Then read (or sing) the words (the first two […]

  3. […] For more, including the story behind another song penned by Moore, Believe Me If All Those Endearing Young Charms, go here. […]

    • Thanks for the Link. This beautiful hymn always touches my heart. And the Baylor choir’s version…Wow!


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