Vale of Tears Quote Origin

I had heard the quote “vale of tears” before, but to my surprise I had always mistakenly thought that it was “veil of tears”, not realizing what the quote really meant. The word “vale” is synonymous with “valley”, and knowing this makes the quote make a lot more sense. Now when looking into the origin of vale of tears there are several places where we can find today’s quote.

“Beyond this vale of tears there is a life above.” – James Montgomery, British Hymnwriter and Poet

“Be still, my soul: when dearest friends depart, and all is darkened in the vale of tears.” – Katharina A. von Schlegel, German Hymnwriter

“To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve; to thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this vale of tears.” – Catholic Hymn Salve Regina, c. 1080

Here are three Christian references to vale of tears, each coming from hymns of different denominations, listed from newest to oldest (even though they’re all pretty old). Clearly the oldest appearance of vale of tears in written text is from the Catholic hymn Salve Regina. But are other uses simply adaptations inspired by the original or does this quote about a vale, or valley of tears, originate from the Bible?

In the Bible in Psalm 84:6 we find this passage about the Valley of Baca:

“Who passing through the valley of Baca make it a well; the rain also filleth the pools.” – Psalm 84:6 KJV

According to Strong’s, the word Baca (בָּכָא Baka’ {baw-kaw’}) means “weeping”, and so Psalm 84 could alternately be “Who passing through the valley of weeping (vale of tears) make it a well”. And so while the actual quote may not be found exactly in the Bible, we see that the idea clearly originates in the Bible and in turn has inspired the quote vale of tears.

But let’s not stop there. The vale of tears is not to be a place of despair for those who make God the Lord of their life. If you read the Psalm, and even just the one verse, the Lord promises those who dwell in the house of the Lord that their vale of tears would be turned into a well of life-giving water, and that the rain would become refreshing pools. That we would go from strength to strength. And that God would be with us always. Selah.


Vale of Tears Quote Origin — 4 Comments

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  2. Wonderful detailed observations, all of which make sense. Did the search because I was using “veil” of tears…which I thought was poetic and my sister (younger by 10 I’m the know it all) ascribed it to the bible and “vale”, a substitute for “valley”. Thanks for the work.

  3. Observations thus far have been made of the misuse of veil for vale. However psalm 84:6 in the original Hebrew should turn our attention to the second word in the phrase, “baca”. Strongs, cited above, is mistaken. The words final letter in Hebrew, aleph (in English a), renders the meaning different then if the letter was a hay (in English h). The correct meaning here is a type of tree, perhaps a balsam or willow, which pilgrims ascending to Jerusalem would pass. Thus the valley of the baca trees was a well known approach to Jerusalem in the days of the temple. The site is referenced in the 16th century Jewish prayer sung on Friday evenings to welcone the sabbath called “Lecha dodi” written by Rabbi El-Kabetz.

  4. Would LIKE outlined ,insightful understanding of the valley of tears…vale of tears. THANKS

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