Posted by: njs44 | February 7, 2010

The still small voice

Today we sang one of my favourite hymns.

Dear Lord and Father of mankind,
Forgive our foolish ways;
Reclothe us in our rightful mind,
In purer lives Thy service find,
In deeper reverence, praise.

In simple trust like theirs who heard,
Beside the Syrian sea,
The gracious calling of the Lord,
Let us, like them, without a word,
Rise up and follow Thee.

O Sabbath rest by Galilee,
O calm of hills above,
Where Jesus knelt to share with Thee
The silence of eternity,
Interpreted by love!

Drop Thy still dews of quietness,
Till all our strivings cease;
Take from our souls the strain and stress,
And let our ordered lives confess
The beauty of Thy peace.

Breathe through the heats of our desire
Thy coolness and Thy balm;
Let sense be dumb, let flesh retire;
Speak through the earthquake, wind, and fire,
O still, small voice of calm.

I decided to do a little research on this hymn, which is also one of the nation’s favourites as well.

The words were written by the Quaker poet, John Greenleaf Whittier and the tune we use is by Parry. Apparently in the USA they sing a different tune, which you can hear, if you are interested at but I much prefer Parry.

Here is a good version of the Parry tune, sung by the choir of Tewksbury Abbey

According to various sources, Whittier wrote the words, which are part of a longer poem, to express his belief in the value of quiet contemplation rather than frenzied or pompous worship. I always imagined he was inspired by the story of Elijah and the still small voice. Whatever his inspiration, the hymn is beautiful and soothing to the soul.



  1. You are right, the Parry setting is much nicer.

  2. The american version seems to have an extra verse.

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