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History Behind the Hymn: Have You Raised Your "Ebenezer"? Is Christ Your Rock on Which You Stand?

HAVE YOUR RAISED YOUR “EBENEZER?”

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“Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing”

By

Robert Robinson

“The History of the Hymn”

Written by

Roger D Duke

Sometimes it is the will of a sovereignty God when a young boy is forced to grow up without the influence of a loving father. This became the lot of Robert Robinson. He was born in 1735 to a customs officer in the town of Swaffam, Norfolk. It was a market town and civil parish of rural England. His mother’s father was wealthy, but never did he reconcile with his daughter for marrying the “wrong man.” So young Robinson was bereft of any inheritance that might have come down to him.


When he was very young, he was indentured to become a barber by trade. This meager income allowed him to be the breadwinner for his widowed mother and himself. Because of his circumstance he did not have the opportunity for much formal education. Even though, he had a studious bent and spent many hours in self-disciplined reading. He gladly accepted the adult responsibilities that came to him, even as a youth.


 As he grew and matured, he was converted under the ministry of George Whitefield. This was on Dec. 19, 1755. A phrase from Whitefield burned in his heart: “Oh my hearers! The wrath to come! The wrath to come!”[1] This led to his conversion. Afterwards he would go on to become a minister of the Gospel. He preached in various denominations: Baptists, Methodists, and others.[2]


Some hymns are autobiographical. Other times research must be done to uncover references about the writer. Other times these are right out in the open. And so, it is with Robinson. Michael Hawn observes:


A favorite line in the last stanza, “Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love,” is thought to be particularly autobiographical, referring to Robinson’s early life, when his mother sent him to be an apprentice [barber]. It was during this time, according to hymnologist Kenneth Osbeck, that “he associated with a notorious gang of hoodlums and lived a debauched life” until he came under the spell of Whitefield.[3]

Now you know “The History of the Hymn.” Enjoy!

 

Verse One:

Come thou fount of every blessing

Tune my heart to sing thy grace

Streams of mercy never ceasing

Call for songs of loudest praise


Verse Two:

Teach me some melodious sonnet

Sung by flaming tongues above

I'll praise the mount I'm fixed upon it

Mount of thy redeeming love


Verse Three:

Here I raise my Ebenezer

Hither by thy help I come

And I hope by thy good pleasure

Safely to arrive at home


Verse Four:

Jesus sought me when a stranger

Wondering from the fold of God

He, to rescue me from danger

Interposed His precious blood


Verse Five:

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


 

[1] Lindsay Terry, “Story Behind the Song: ‘Come Thou Fount,’”  https://www.staugustine.com/article/20160428/lifestyle/304289923, retrieved August 24, 2020

 

[2] Ibid.

 

[3] Michael Hawn, “History of Hymns,” Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing,” https://www.umcdiscipleship.org/resources/history-of-hymns-come-thou-fount-of-every-blessing, retrieved August 24, 2020.

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