by Robert Robinson (1758) and Martin Madan (1760)
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 God’s redeeming love.
Here I find my greatest treasure;
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.
Oh, 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.
Robert Robinson was born at Swaffham, Norfolk, in 1735. His father, who was not wealthy, died when Robert was still rather young, leaving the family destitute. At the age of 14 Robert was indentured to a barber/hairdresser, but he preferred reading and writing to his duties as an apprentice. One Sunday afternoon in 1752, he went to hear George Whitefield preach a message entitled “The Wrath to Come,” and it disquieted him so much that after a time, he received Christ as Savior. Robinson spent the rest of his days as a preacher. At first he held to the doctrine of the Calvinistic Methodists, then the Independents, and finally the Baptists. Robinson authored several books that were well received during his lifetime, as well as a good many hymn texts including this one and “Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah.” He died June 9, 1790, at the age of 55.
Martin Madan was born in 1726. He was preparing for the Bar when he heard a sermon preached by John Wesley entitled, “Prepare to Meet Thy God.” The Lord used this sermon to completely change the direction of Madan’s life. He later became a preacher and a writer. He also compiled a book of 170 hymns, writing the tunes for many of them. Although there is no evidence that he wrote any of the hymns himself, he did alter the texts of a good many of them. For over 100 years the hymns published in his book were reprinted in hymnals used by the Church of England, complete with his extensive text alterations. Like Robinson, Madan died in 1790.
The lyrics above came from The Psalter Hymnal published in 1987. In some of the hymnals used in churches I’ve attended, stanza 2 begins with “Here I raise mine Ebenezer” and ends with “Interposed His precious blood.” I am not sure if these were the original words of Robinson or the alteration made by Madan, but the words displayed above are a bit easier for us to understand in the 21st Century.
The entire hymn has a joyful sound, praising God for salvation and security. I particularly like the third stanza. “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.” I am prone to wander, but no matter what I may do, I am assured of my home in heaven because I did not earn my salvation, nor do I need to work to keep it. I am saved by the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ and sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise. That, my friends, is something to sing about!
Photo taken along a trail in Sapphire Valley, NC, 2011