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Blest Be the Tie That Binds

Scripture References

Confessions and Statements of Faith References

Further Reflections on Confessions and Statements of Faith References

Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 21, Question and Answer 55 professes “the communion of the saints,” by which we mean that “each member should consider it a duty to use [their] gifts readily and joyfully for the service and enrichment of the other members.”
 
The Belhar Confession, Section 2 testifies that the unity of God’s children becomes active “in a variety of ways; in that we love one another, that we experience, practice and pursue community with one another...”

Tune Information

Name
DENNIS
Key
F Major or modal
Meter
6.6.8.6

Hymn Story/Background

Fawcett titled this hymn "Brotherly Love." It is essentially about the communion of saints, bound together in love (st. 1), united in worship (st. 2), sharing each other's burdens (st. 3), and encouraging each other with the hope of eternal life in glory, where we will be reunited with departed friends and freed "from sorrow, toil, and pain and sin (st. 4-6).
 
He wrote most of his hymns to be sung by his congregation at the conclusion of the sermon. They were published in Hymns adapted to the Circumstances of Public Worship and Private Devotion (1782). In the preface to his collection Fawcett apologized to "persons of an elevated genius" for his "plain verses" but expressed the hope that they would edify "humble Christians."
 
Lowell Mason arranged DENNIS and first published it in The Psaltery (1845), a hymnal he compiled with George Webb. Mason attributed the tune to Johann G. Nageli but included no source reference. Nageli presumably published the original melody as the setting for "O selig, selig, wervor dir" in his Christliches Gesangbuch (1828).
 
The tune name DENNIS is thought to refer to a town in Massachusetts. It is a simple tune, initially built with several sequences. Sing stanzas 1 and 6 in unison and the others in parts, perhaps using no accompaniment on stanza 4 for occasions of sorrowful, parting. Two groups can also sing the entire hymn antiphonally, by half-stanzas, especially if one group is parting from the other. Sing the tune in two long lines, with, one pulse per measure.
— Bert Polman

Author Information

An orphan at the age of twelve, John Fawcett (b. Lidget Green, Yorkshire, England, 1740; d. Hebden Bridge, Yorkshire, 1817) became apprenticed to a tailor and was largely self-educated. He was converted by the preaching of George Whitefield at the age of sixteen and began preaching soon thereafter. In 1765 Fawcett was called to a small, poor, Baptist country church in Wainsgate, Yorkshire. Seven years later he received a call from the large and influential Carter's Lane Church in London, England. Fawcett accepted the call and preached his farewell sermon. The day of departure came, and his family's belongings were loaded on carts, but the distraught congregation begged him to stay. In Singers and Songs of the Church (1869), Josiah Miller tells the story associated with this text:
This favorite hymn is said to have been written in 1772, to commemorate the determination of its author to remain with his attached people at Wainsgate. The farewell sermon was preached, the wagons were loaded, when love and tears prevailed, and Dr. Fawcett sacrificed the attraction of a London pulpit to the affection of his poor but devoted flock.
 
Fawcett continued to serve in Wainsgate and in the nearby village of Hebden Bridge for the remainder of his active ministry.
— Bert Polman

Composer Information

Johann G. Nageli (b. Wetzikon, near Zurich, Switzerland, 1773; d. Wetzikon, 1836) was an influential music educator who lectured throughout Germany and France. Influenced by Johann Pestalozzi, he published his theories of music education in Gangbildungslehre (1810), a book that made a strong impact on Lowell Mason. Nageli composed mainly" choral works, including settings of Goethe's poetry. He received his early instruction from his father, then in Zurich, where he concentrated on the music of. S. Bach. In Zurich, he also established a lending library and a publishing house, which published first editions of Beethoven’s piano sonatas and music by Bach, Handel, and Frescobaldi.
— Bert Polman
General Settings
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