Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing

Robert Robinson had a rough beginning. His father died when he was young, and his mother, unable to control him, sent him to London to learn barbering. Instead, he learned about drinking and gang life. Bothered by an encounter with a fortune teller, he suggested to his buddies they attend the evangelistic meeting held by George Whitefield, one of history’s greatest preachers. That night he preached from Matthew 3:7 after which he burst into tears and exclaimed, “Oh, my hearers! The wrath to come!” Those words haunted Robert for nearly three years, until he gave his heart to Christ. He soon entered the ministry, and three years later at age twenty-three, he wrote “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing” for his sermon on Pentecost Sunday. Robinson continued to work for the Lord until 1790, when he was found dead at age fifty-four, having passed away quietly during the night.

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V.1 – 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.

V.2 – Here I raise mine Ebenezer; Hither by Thy help I come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure, Safely to arrive at home:
Jesus sought me when a stranger, Wand’ring from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger, Interposed His precious blood.

V.3 – O to grace how great a debtor Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy grace, Lord, like a fetter, Bind my wand’ring heart to Thee:
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, Lord, take and seal it, Seal it for Thy courts above.

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There are so many holidays that happen in May: Mother’s Day on May 10th, Armed Forces Day on May 16th, and Memorial Day on May 25th. Of course, this list doesn’t include my personal favorites like Star Wars Day (May the Fourth/Force be with you) and International No Diet Day (May 6th). Nor does it include Walt Draffin’s favorite holiday which occurs on May 13th, Leprechaun Day. It also doesn’t include May 24th which is Pentecost, the day on which we commemorate the coming of the Holy Spirit on the early followers of Jesus, seven weeks after His resurrection (see Acts 2: 1-4).  “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing” was written for Robinson’s Pentecost Sermon in the 1700s and to this day is a favorite of many, myself included.

A fount is a source. The first verse of this hymn is addressed to God, who is acknowledged as the source of “every spiritual blessing” (Eph. 1:3). It is asking God to teach (tune) his heart to daily sing praises to Lord (Ps. 47:6). Why? Because like a stream of water, His mercies never end (Ps. 100:5); they call us to a never ending praise (Heb. 13:15). A sonnet is a poem. It is asking God for help to find or create increasingly beautiful ways to express joyful praise of the One who is the source of every blessing and worthy of our best efforts at praising him. The flaming tongues above are likely those of angels can naturally do a much better job of this. The mount on which his eyes are fixed is Calvary where Jesus’ death and resurrection was the ultimate divine act of love.

Verse two refers to an Ebenezer or our Rock of Help (1 Sam. 7:12) who brought us through our darkness and sin so that we may have eternal life (Deut. 6:23-24). What did God do to bring us this far? Remember the parable of the lost sheep in Luke 15? When one of God’s sheep wanders away from the fold, or the pen in which sheep are kept, He goes to look for it. In order to save us, His wandering sheep, He died in our place and placed his blood like a barrier between us and the danger we faced, hell.

Verse three begins with the word debtor, a sense of being ‘dependent’ or ‘bound to’. We are daily dependent on God’s grace. While we don’t owe him anything in return for it, the very fact that his grace is freely given (Eph. 4:7) does daily constrain or “compel” us to walk in His ways. In this verse, the prayer is that the grace we are shown would bind our hearts to Him like a fetter, a shackle used to bind the feet of prisoners, in spite of the temptation to sin and to wander from God. We are prone or likely to stray from God (Is. 53:6), but when we give our heart to God, He will protect and preserve our hearts for eternity (Prov. 4:23).

This song is a prayer that God would send us His mercies, that we would ever praise Him, that we would cry out to Him in our times of trouble, and that He would guard our hearts so that we won’t stray from Him, but rather live with Him throughout eternity.

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