ART THOU WEARY?
John M. Neale, 1818–1866
Adapted from the Greek of Stephen the Sabaite, 725–815
The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” And let him who hears say, “Come!” Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life. (Revelation 22:17)
I have read in Plato and Cicero sayings that are very wise and very beautiful; but I have never read in either of them, “Come unto Me all ye that labor and are heavy burdened.”
Inspired by Christ’s loving offer of pardon and rest for the weary and distressed soul, an 8th century Greek monk named Stephen wrote these plaintive lines. From the age of 10 Stephen lived in the monastery of Mar Sabas in the wilderness of Judea. He eventually became the abbot of this monastery until his death at the age of 90. The mystic quality of the hymn’s text reflects the introspective solitude of Stephen’s life. He joins with “saints, apostles, prophets, and martyrs” to assert God’s blessing upon all who respond to Him in simple faith.
This text in its present form is actually a paraphrase of Stephen’s writing. It was done by John M. Neale, an English clergyman who discovered and translated many ancient Greek and Latin hymns. Neale published “Art thou Weary?” in his 1862 edition of Hymns of the Eastern Church.
“Art Thou Weary?” has been the favorite hymn of many notable people, including President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Its simple and direct arrangement of a question in the first line of each verse followed by the positive answer in each second line has given assurance of God’s constant faithfulness to countless despairing persons.
Art thou weary, art thou languid, art thou sore distrest? “Come to Me,” saith One, “and, coming, be at rest.”
Hath He marks to lead me to Him, if He be my guide? “In His feet and hands are wound-prints, and His side.”
If I still hold closely to Him, what hath He at last? “Sorrow vanquished, labor ended, Jordan passed.”
If I ask Him to receive me, will He say me nay? “Not till earth and not till heaven pass away.”
Finding, foll’wing, keeping, struggling, is He sure to bless? Saints, apostles, prophets, martyrs answer, “Yes.”
For Today: Psalm 23:2; 55:22; Matthew 11:28, 29; John 10:10
Come to Christ with any burden or sorrow in your life and be assured that He will hasten to meet you with open arms just as the father of the prodigal son did. Rest in the truth of these musical lines—