Dear Refuge of My Weary Soul

Dear refuge of my weary soul, 
On Thee, when sorrows rise
On Thee, when waves of trouble roll, 
My fainting hope relies
To Thee I tell each rising grief, 
For Thou alone canst heal
Thy Word can bring a sweet relief, 
For every pain I feel

But oh! When gloomy doubts prevail, 
I fear to call Thee mine
The springs of comfort seem to fail, 
And all my hopes decline
Yet gracious God, where shall I flee? 
Thou art my only trust
And still my soul would cleave to Thee
Though prostrate in the dust

Hast Thou not bid me seek Thy face, 
And shall I seek in vain? 
And can the ear of sovereign grace, 
Be deaf when I complain? 
No still the ear of sovereign grace, 
Attends the mourner's prayer
Oh may I ever find access, 
To breathe my sorrows there

Thy mercy seat is open still, 
Here let my soul retreat
With humble hope attend Thy will, 
And wait beneath Thy feet, 
Thy mercy seat is open still, 
Here let my soul retreat
With humble hope attend Thy will, 
And wait beneath Thy feet

Anne Steele


I could not think of a better song to launch a new weekly series of posts highlighting key hymns that have ministered to me, than Anne Steele's Dear Refuge Of My Weary Soul. For many, as it has for me, this hymn has borne countless souls through dark and trying times.

Seven years ago I was ambushed by depression. With no history, and seemingly no warning, I was inexplicably struck down with a debilitating weight I could not seem to shift. Stretching from days to weeks, and then weeks to months, others looked on in bewilderment as my life spiralled into isolation and darkness. To those I cared most deeply about, and who cared most deeply for me, the pain was great as I resolutely held them at arms length, cowering from any semblance of light and hope. Depression is a cruel, deceitful master—a master that left scars I carry with me today.

Yet, I am thankful for my depression.

I'm not glad for the pain I inflicted on others, nor do I rejoice that I stumbled and fell. But I am thankful for my depression. God grew a garden of delight in the fertile soil of my broken life. I had nothing left but God, and He did not fail me once. When all else was stripped away, God laid a foundation that endures to this day, a foundation established on the unmerited favour of His grace, and the position of Sonship I share with Jesus himself.

It was in this depth of my despair that these words were graciously sung over my soul:

But oh! When gloomy doubts prevail, 
I fear to call Thee mine
The springs of comfort seem to fail, 
And all my hopes decline
Yet gracious God, where shall I flee? 
Thou art my only trust
And still my soul would cleave to Thee
Though prostrate in the dust

There has barely been a week that passed that I have not returned to this beautiful hymn. Though I lay prostrate in the dust and all my hopes decline, my God has proven His steadfast love and enduring faithfulness; I have joined my soul to Him, and Him alone, to what else shall I flee?

So, it is the eternal Father—the refuge of my weary soul— that I ask you to turn your heart to. He will meet you in your despair as well; His mercy seat is open still, here let your soul retreat. With humble hope attend His will, and wait beneath His feet.