Robert Robinson was born in Norfolf, England in September of 1735 to Michael Robinson, who died when Robert was only five-years-old, and Mary Wilkin. Though Robert’s uncle made his schooling possible, Robert was indentured under hairdresser in 1749, where he read and studied Scripture more than work. Robinson was a Baptist, though he was for a time part of the Methodist church after hearing in 1752 George Whitefield’s “The Wrath to come”.
In 1758, Robinson penned “Come, Thou Fount” for Whitsunday. This word is a contraction of the Old English words Whita “white” and Sunnandaeg “Sunday”—the day of Pentecost. This hymn first appeared in the 1759 book A Collection of Hymns Used by the Church of Christ, but the tune, called NETTLETON, did not appear until 1813. Robinson moved and rotated between a handful of churches before finally becoming a pastor of a Baptist church in Cambridge in 1762, to which he moved with his twelve children, staying there until the end of his life. In June of 1790, he visited a congregation in Birmingham and, while there, died in his sleep on the morning of June 9th.
This hymn has been reproduced in a variety of versions. In fact, it was not until recently that I found this well-loved hymn of mine had more than three verses. Moreover, the second verse one I knew actually consisted of the last four lines of the second verse and the first four lines of the third verse. This hymn has been a comfort and a reminder of the sacrifice and love of Christ.
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.
The fount the hymnist is asking for is Christ and the “living water” only He can provide (Jhn. 4:14, 7:37-39). From this Fount comes every good thing we have, most especially salvation (Jas. 1:17-18). This fount is echoed in the streams of mercy. Not only does Christ forgive us, but He also gives us His Spirit, showering upon us undeserved mercy and grace. This is what “calls for” or requires praise (Isa. 25:1, Psa. 9:1, 16:11, 92:1-5, 107:8).
What is the mount that we are fixed upon and praise? It is Christ’s redeeming love—love that was sacrificed for us so that our sins may be washed away and that we might live with Him (1 Jhn 4:9-16). This is part of that undeserving grace, for we were redeemed without any action of our own (Titus 3:4-7). Thus, this mount is something our faith and hope can securely rest on (Heb. 12:2, Ps 59:16, 62:6).
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.
We know that while we are in this world of sin, our spirit and flesh mourn, both from physical pain and from the troubles caused by sin (Rom. 7:24, 2 Cor. 5:1-4). Yet we can take comfort in the fact that we will shed this mortal body and be resurrected with Christ (Rom. 6:5-12, 2 Tim 1:12). But while we are still here, we look forward to the promises that we will inherit in Christ.
The word Ebenezer comes from the Old Testament when Samuel sets up a stone and names it “Stone of Help,” for God had helped them thus far (1 Sam. 7:12). In the same way, we recognize we have been helped in every way by Christ, most especially regarding salvation. We now enjoy and have peace, joy, and the Holy Spirit; then, we will be with Christ forever because of His redeeming act (Eph. 1:3-14, 2 Cor 5:5-9).
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.
This verse notes an amazing thing: Before we knew Him, Christ died for us (Rom. 5:8, Col. 1:19-22). We did not seek Him, but He sought us while we were lost, broken, sinful, alienated, and unable to help ourselves (Isa. 53:6, Rom. 3:25-27, 10:20, Luk. 15:1-7, 19:10). He rescued us from the evil of this world and our own sin with the shedding of His blood (Ezk. 34:11-12, Rom. 5:9, 7:25, Gal. 1:3-5, Eph. 1:7). How could we hope to tell of this kindness? As the verse says, we will never fully comprehend nor be able to thank Him fully, but we will forever praise Him when we are loosed of this mortal body to dwell with Him (Phil. 3:21, Psa. 111).
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.
How are we a debtor to grace? Our debt has been paid with the blood of Christ. Instead, this is a reminder of how much we sin and are in need of God’s continual grace by which we are saved (Rom. 8:1-18, Eph. 2:1-22). This echoes the previous verse that says, “His kindness yet pursues me.” To Him should we be ever thankful and ever mindful and His marvelous gift. Again, we need this reminder because we often sin against Him who saved us (Rom. 6:12-23, 7:14-25).
Let us remember His goodness towards us. We ask that God would bind us so tightly to Him that we would not wander; in this spirit, we ask that we would not be led into temptation, that we would walk faithfully in His Word (Psa. 119:1-16, Matt. 6:12-13, 18:12-14, Jas 5:19-20, Isa. 53:6).
O that day when freed from sinning,
I shall see Thy lovely face;
Clothèd 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.
Finally, we get to the verse of that promised inheritance of when we stand before God’s throne, free of sin, death, and separation, dwelling forever with Christ (1 Cor. 15:55, 2 Tim. 4:8, Heb. 9:15). This verse harkens to Revelation when the saints are dressed in white garments washed in the blood of the Lamb (Rev. 7:14, 1 Pet 1:18-19). We are washed clean in His blood. How we will sing on that day! Thus, we beckon again as we did at the start, “Come, Lord Jesus.” (Rev. 22:20-21). We plead that He may take us to be with Him forever (2 Cor. 5:5-17, Mar. 10:45). This is why we thank Him. This is why He alone is worthy of our praise (Psa. 145:3, Rev. 7:9-12).
Blessings to you and yours,