March 23, 2011

Hymn History - Come Thou Fount

Come Thou Fount

The year was 1773. A group of boys from one of the local gangs had cornered a poor gipsy woman and were drowning her in liquor. They were determined to get her to the place that she was so drunk that she would tell them their fortunes for free. Turning to one in the circle of young men, she told him that evil fortune awaited him. “She’s drunk, she doesn’t know what she’s saying.”

She then turned to young Robert Robinson, and told him, “You will live to see your children and grandchildren.” Robinson suddenly paled and said, “You are right, she doesn’t know what she is saying. Lets get out of here.”

Although he tried to act unconcerned, Robinson was haunted for the rest of the day. He could not get the gypsy woman out of his head. What she had said had scared him. If he was going to live to see his children and grandchildren, he was going to have to change his lifestyle. So that very night, he suggested to his pals that they go to a local revival meeting, on the pretense of making fun of the preacher. The preacher that night was George Whitfield. He preached from Matthew 3:7, and it deeply affected Robinson. He felt that the preacher was speaking directly to him. Over 2 years passed, however, before he accepted Christ as his Saviour.

After his conversion, Robinson joined the Methodist church, and soon after was called to preach. He was appointed by John Wesley to the Calvinist Methodist Chapel in Norfolk, England. Three years after his salvation, to celebrate Pentecost, He penned his spiritual autobiography in this song.

The second verse reads, “Here I raise my Ebenezer, hither by thy help I’m come.” This phrase was taken from the book of I Samuel, in which Samuel raised up a stone after a battle fought with the Philistines. He called it “Ebenezer,” saying, “Hitherto hath the Lord helped us.”

Although he wrote many other hymns, “Come Thou Fount” remained the best-loved and most well-known. He died in 1790, at the age of 55, just as he always wished to, “soft suddenly, and alone.”

Come, Thou Fount of every blessing,
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
Sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it,
Mount of Thy redeeming love.

Sorrowing I shall be in spirit,
Till released from flesh and sin,
Yet from what I do inherit,
Here Thy praises I’ll begin;
Here I raise my Ebenezer;
Here by Thy great help I’ve come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.

Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood;
How His kindness yet pursues me
Mortal tongue can never tell,
Clothed in flesh, till death shall loose me
I cannot proclaim it well.

O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

O that day when freed from sinning,
I shall see Thy lovely face;
Clothed then in blood washed linen
How I’ll sing Thy sovereign grace;
Come, my Lord, no longer tarry,
Take my ransomed soul away;
Send thine angels now to carry
Me to realms of endless day.

~Ernest K. Emurian, Living Stories of Famous Hymns

1 comment:

  1. I really enjoyed reading this as we'll be singing this hymn on Sunday in church! Perfect timing ;) While I love this hymn, I had no idea that it was autobiographical!

    And I was really intrigued at the verses and order. I'm only familiar with 3 verses of this hymn- the first listed here, a combination of the words from the second and third verses, and the fourth. The additional verses and lines of text only make this great hymn even more meaningful.