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Come, Ye Disconsolate

November 17, 2017

Tomas Moore (1779-1852) and Thomas Hastings (1784-1872) were from Dublin and Litchfield County, Connecticut, respectively, and there is no hint that they ever knew each other.

Moore studied law in London, was registrar to the Admiralty in Bermuda but eventually earned his name as a poet. He made his way to the United States where he wrote crticially of slavery--making him deeply unpopular with the American public. In time, Moore traveled to Canada, then Nova Scotia and returned to England, where a botched duel and his burning of Lord Byron's papers led to further scandal--though he is often regarded as the bard of Ireland, analogus to Robert Burns' reputation in Scotland.

 

Hastings led a much less storied life. From Litchfield County, he wound up in my birthplace of Troy, New York and then to Albany, Utica and eventually New York City. There, for forty years he directed various church choirs and composed hymns. He died in 1872, no botched duels or burned Byronic legacy to his modest name. His biographer says, with lukewarm approbation, "Although not a great poet, he yet attained considerable success." Hey, not bad for a poet.

 

But oddly enough, these two men penned the lyrics of a song of comfort, "Come, Ye Disconsolate," that is at once sort of treacly and deeply moving. I embed below the Baylor Men's Choir singing a version of it because I think that, in these days of darkness and upheaval, when we cast about for things to do (and "sheetcaking" does seem like a worthy new form of civil disobedience), it may bring a bit of calm.

 

Of course, if the music is too drippy for you, I get it. If the lyrics are too flowery and 19th-century, I get that, too. Perhaps I'm just desparate for a brief respite from the work we are called to do to stem the ugly riptide we are in. Sometimes, artistic standards aside, we just need to hear that there is cause for hope.

 

"Come, Ye Disconsolate" (verses 1 and 2 by Moore, verse 3 by Hastings)

 

Come, ye disconsolate, where're ye languish;

Come to the mercy seat, fervantly kneel.

Here bring your wounded hearts, here tell your anguish

Earth has no sorrow that heav'n cannot heal.

 

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."

 

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.

 

 

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I'm a writer, yoga teacher, Lutheran pastor, and music nerd living in New York. I find a feast in daily living - most days, anyway - and write about it here. 

Finalist for the 2017 Chautauqua Prize!
The frank and funny story of a church-geek girl who spent twenty years in the ecclesiastical trenches as a Lutheran pastor, preaching weekly words of hope she wasn’t sure she even believed.