Horatius Bonar (1808–1889), began writing hymns as a missioner at Leith, north of Edinburgh. After the devastating Disruption of the Church of Scotland in 1843 he became a Free Church of Scotland minister. Bonar was an avid writer of evangelical tracts, and had a great ministry among children. He was known for being intensely pastoral in his outlook, and in 1862 published God’s Way of Peace: a Book for the Anxious
which was translated into three languages and sold over a quarter of a million copies in his lifetime. Ironically, he never heard his own hymns sung in his own church in Edinburgh, as his was one of the Free Church congregations to oppose the introduction of hymns! I heard the voice of Jesus say
(based on Matthew 11: 28) was written in 1846, during what must have been an intensely stressful and painful time for Bonar himself in the immediate years after the 1843 schism.
The tune Kingsfold is an old English folksong of uncertain origin and date. First published in English Country Songs (1893), an anthology compiled by Lucy E Broadwood and J A Fuller Maitland, Vaughan Williams arranged it for The English Hymnal of 1906, supposedly having heard it in the village of Kingsfold, near Horsham in West Sussex.
from notes by The Revd Dr James Hawkey © 2014