Come Thou Fount, one of the most famous hymns out there today. Set to the American Folk tune, Nettleton, it has been covered by David Crowder, Jars of Clay, Michael Card, Phil Wickham, Chris Tomlin and a million other worship bands. Even some of our favorite folkies like Sufjan Stevens and Mumford and Sons have covered the song.
I’ve always loved this hymn, but if I’m honest, I really have no idea what most of the lyrics mean. You know, with all the founts, fettering and Ebenezers, constraining and interposing… So, I thought I’d look up the history and come to find out the song was written by Robert Robinson in 1757 and is autobiographical in nature. Robinson writes the song as a confession of a proneness to wander away from the Lord. It is a song about repentance and redemption!
Those who have recorded Robinson’s story tell it this way. In his youth, Robert Robinson was apprenticed to a barber in London and was quite the party boy. One day he heard a sermon by a preacher named George Whitefield. There was fire spewing from Whitefields lips as he spoke on the stern words of John the Baptist to the Jewish leaders of his day. “Brood of vipers!” He shouted, “Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” (Matt. 3:7). Anyway, during the sermon, the Spirit of God took hold of the wayward young man and he put his faith in Christ.
Associated with the Wesleys for a time, Robinson served as a pastor in several churches. He wrote a number of works on theology, and two hymns that we know of, ‘Mighty God, While Angels Bless Thee,’ and ‘Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing.’ However, in his later years he drifted away from God rambling and stumbling back into his old pit.
Robert Cottrill, newspaper columnist, radio host, and long-time contributor to the Cyber Hymnal tells the rest of the story:
"Although Robinson was in broken fellowship with the Lord, that one day, the author was traveling in a stage coach. His only companion was a young woman unknown to him. In the providence of God, and not realizing who it was she spoke with, the woman quoted Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing, saying what an encouragement it had been to her. And try as he might, Robinson could not get her to change the subject. Finally, he said, with tears in his eyes, “Madam, I am the poor unhappy man who composed that hymn, many years ago. And I would give a thousand worlds, if I had them, to enjoy the feelings I then had!” Gently, she replied, “Sir, the ‘streams of mercy’ are still flowing.” He was deeply touched by that. As a result of the encounter he repented. His fellowship with the Lord was restored through the ministry of his own hymn, and a Christian’s willing witness."
The last stanza is often left out. It is my favorite:
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 ransom’d Soul away;
Send thine Angels now to carry
Me to realms of endless Day.
May we continue to sing songs of repentance (sincere regret or remorse) and redemption (absolution) and may we find our comrade, Robert Robinson’s journey back to Jesus an encouragement of God’s faithfulness to us.
And, may we hold fast to the reminder that the author of Hebrews exhorts.
"Therefore, since we have such a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also get rid of every weight and entangling sin. Let us run with endurance the race set before us, focusing on Yeshua, the initiator and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before Him, He endured the cross, disregarding its shame; and He has taken His seat at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you may not grow weary in your souls and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:1-3 TLV
By the way,
Fount means; a source of a desirable quality or commodity.
Fetter is a chain or manacle used to restrain a prisoner, typically placed around the ankles.
And Eben-Ezer is from a reference from the book of Samuel and means stone of help
Sing it with me…