Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing

February 3, 2010
8:25 AM

We have the privilege of having a “Hymn of the Month” focus for 2010. Many hymns reflect a personal relationship with the Lord. Such is the case with our February focus: Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing by Robert Robinson.

During his early teen years, Robinson ran with a notorious gang of thugs and led a depraved life. At age 17, he decided to attend a revival where the noted evangelist George Whitefield was preaching. Robinson’s motive was to make fun of the people and their religious delusions. Instead, God “began a good work” in him and three years later, he accepted Christ as his Savior.

Not long after his conversion, he responded to a call on his life to preach and became pastor of a rather large church in England. He also wrote a number of theological books as well as several hymns. His most well-known song, written at age 22, is also his spiritual autobiography. Phrases from two of the verses become especially poignant, considering Robinson’s spiritual journey.

“Jesus sought me when a stranger, wand’ring from the fold of God; He to rescue me from danger interposed His precious blood.”

“O to grace how great a debtor daily I’m constrained to be! Let Thy goodness 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-O take and seal it; seal it for Thy courts above.”

In the USA, the hymn is usually set to an American folk tune known as Nettleton, by attribution to the evangelist Asahel Nettleton who composed it early in the nineteenth century. Robinson penned the words in the year 175. In the UK, the hymn is also often set to the tune Normandy by C Bost. The words of the hymn are in the public domain.

The song has gained a degree of popularity in recent years, in large part due to an arrangement by Mack Wilberg, which appears at the end of the BYU Choirs concert “A Thanksgiving of American Folk Hymns,” recorded in April 1994, which is rebroadcast annually by hundreds of PBS affiliates. It has also been covered by David Crowder Band on their 1999 album All I Can Say, and on their live recording Our Love is Loud. Jars of Clay has also covered the song. Matthew Smith has also recorded a popular version on his album All I Owe. Sufjan Stevens recorded a version for his Hark! Songs for Christmas album, which reached 122 in the US charts. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir and the Orchestra at Temple Square perform the Mack Wilberg arrangement of this hymn in their concerts, and occasionally on their weekly broadcast Music and the Spoken Word. It is featured on two of their albums, The Sound of Glory, and America’s Choir and is the title song on the album “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” released in March 2009. This song is also sung by Clark Davis in the film Love Comes Softly based on the book of the same title by Janette Oke and is a recurring background music in the film. The Nettleton tune is used extensively in partial or full quotation by the American composer Charles Ives, in such works as the First String Quartet and the piano quintet and song “The Innate.”

Most of us will never pen a book or write a song, but our lives can be a “melodious sonnet” sung in “loudest praise.”

Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing
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

Here I raise my Ebeneezer
Hither by Thy 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
Bought me with His precious blood

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, Lord, take and seal it
Seal it for Thy courts above

Bill Born


About bornfun

I'm married with 4 kids, an orange farmer, a pastor and worship leader at Trinity Church. I love God and I love people. I seek to be wholly devoted to the glory of God, living all of my life as worship to Him.
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