“Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” is one of the best-known and most loved hymns for a reason. The text was written over 250 years ago, yet it is still as relevant today as it was then. Each of us, as Christians, can place our selves in the middle of the narrative and sing this hymn as if the words were our own. We desire to praise and worship God, yet recognizing our brokenness and inability to do it on our own we must rely on the help and grace of God to make it in our daily lives. The phrase “here by thy great help I’ve come” in the second verse is the theme woven throughout the entire text as we sing of our struggles with our own sinful nature and our daily encounter with the Gospel.
Hymns can be difficult because there are lots of words packed with even more meaning going by really fast. Often, we can skip over the depth of meaning in an effort to keep up with the music. For those unfamiliar with hymns, the richness of the poetry and language can be hard to decipher at first glance. So, we’re going to slow this one down and walk through it.
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.
In the first verse, we ask for the Holy Spirit to come and help us to worship. God’s grace, mercy and redeeming love deserve praise, but we don’t know the song. We are asking the Spirit to “tune our hearts to sing Thy grace”; we want to sing the same song the angels in heaven are singing: “teach me some melodious sonnet, sung by flaming tongues above”. Without help we are unable to worship.
What shall I render to the LORD
for all his benefits to me?
I will lift up the cup of salvation
and call on the name of the LORD.
Psalm 116:12-13, ESV
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, wand’ring from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger, interposed His precious blood.
The second verse begins with “Here I raise my Ebenezer;” a reference to 1 Samuel 7. The Israelites, with God’s prodigious help, have just defeated the Philistines. Samuel places a stone as a monument of the victory and called it “Ebenezer”, which means “Till now the Lord has helped us”. So, in this second verse, we raise our own “Ebenezer” in response to God’s grace to say “here by thy great help I’ve come”. We, like sheep, have wandered off. Jesus sought us and rescued us by his blood. We now hope to arrive safely at home in heaven.
“What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them,
does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country,
and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it?
And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing.
Luke 15:4-5, ESV
O to grace how great the 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.
Now, in the third verse, we are debtors, bought with a price we can never repay. We confess we are aware of our sinful natures and we realize our need for His help to not leave and wander away again. We ask the Lord, with his grace and goodness as a chain, to “bind my wandering heart to Thee” and “seal it for Thy courts above”; let our hearts ever be on things of God and not of this world.
But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God,
the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.
Romans 6:22, ESV
Listen to “Come Thou Fount of Everything Blessing” as performed by the Hymn Collective.