Come, thou Fount of every blessingAuthor: Robert Robinson (1758)
Published in 1874 hymnals
Printable scores: PDF, SibeliusAudio files: MIDI
1 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.
2 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.
3 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.
The Psalter Hymnal, 1987
|First Line:||Come, thou Fount of every blessing|
|Title:||Come, Thou Fount|
|Author:||Robert Robinson (1758)|
|Liturgical Use:||Opening Hymns|
Come, Thou Fount of every blessing. [Whitsuntide.] As various and conflicting statements concerning this hymn abound, it will be necessary to trace, first its History, so far as known; and 2nd, to discuss the question of its Authorship.
i. Its History. This in detail is:—
1. In a Church Book, kept by Robert Robinson (q.v.), of Cambridge, and in the possession of the Rev. William Robinson, of Cambridge, his biographer, there is an entry in Robert Robinson's handwriting which reads:— “Mr. Wheatley of Norwich published a hymn beginning "Come, Thou Fount of every blessing" (1758). This entry forms part of a manuscript list of the works which R. Robinson had written and published. This gives us a definite date, 1758.
2. Nothing has yet been found which can be identified as being issued by "Mr. Wheatley of Norwich" in which this hymn can be found.
3. The earliest known text in print is in A Collection of Hymns used by the Church of Christ in Angel-Alley, Bishopsgate, 1759, now in the library of the Drew Theological College, Madison, New Jersey, U.S.A. It is No. i., and in 4 stanzas, beginning respectively:—
Stanza i. “Come, Thou Fount of every blessing."
Stanza ii. “Here I raise my Ebenezer."
Stanza iii. “O, to grace how great a debtor."
Stanza iv. “O, that day when free from sinning."
4. This text was repeated in the Hearers of the Apostles Collection of Hymns, Nottingham, 1777; and in a Dublin Collection, 1785. Shortly afterwards, however, it seems to have fallen out of use.
5. The second and well-known form of the hymn in the first three stanzas as given above is found in M. Madan's Psalms & Hymns, 1760; G. Whitefield's Psalms & Hymns, 14th ed., 1767; the Countess of Huntingdon's Collection, 1764; and most of the hymn-books published during the latter part of the last century. The text, as in Madan's Psalms & Hymns, 1760, which is the 1759 text with the omission of stanza iv., is that usually adopted by modern compilers, and is given in Lyra Britannica, 1867, p. 479.
This has been claimed for Robert Robinson, on the one part, and for the Countess of Huntingdon on the other. The evidence in each case is:—
(1) For Robert Robinson.
1. The entry in his own handwriting in the Cambridge Church Book, in which he enumerates it with his various productions as noted above.
2. His name is added to it in the 3rd ed. of A Collection of Hymns adapted to Public Worship, 1778; and has since been repeated in almost every collection in which authors' names are given from that date to the present.
3. Mr. Dyer, in his Memoirs of the Life & Writings of S. Robinson, 1796, states that amongst Robinson's papers there was a letter from Dr. Rippon, the compiler of the well-known Baptist Selection of Hymns, 1787, in which he acknowledges that one or two hymns in that Selection were by Robinson, and names "Come, Thou Fount of every blessing" as one. Dr. Rippon gives it as No. 509, and for the "New Year." It is in 3 stanzas, and signed Robinson.
4. It is included in Benjamin Flower's ed. of Robinson's Miscellaneous Works, Harlow, 1807, vol. iv. p. 346.
5. The Rev. W. Robinson, in Select Works of the Rev. Robert Robinson, 1861, claims it for him.
ii. For the Countess of Huntingdon.
1. Bound up with a copy of J. & C. Wesley'sHymns & Sacred Poems, Dublin, 1747, are 21 leaves of writing paper. On the first leaf is written a list of several of the poetical publications of the Wesleys. Following it are hymns copied from Cennick, Watts, &c.; one by "Mrs. D. B.”, and this hymn. These fill 10 leaves of the 21, and the rest are blank. On the title page of this book is written in the same hand¬writing "Diana Bindon, 1759." On the inside of the cover of the book is pasted a Wesleyan Methodist quarterly ticket containing a small engraving of Christ washing one of the disciples' feet. On this is written, “Nov. 6, Diana Vandeleur," but the year is not given. The Wesley publications named on the first leaf reach down to 1756.
2. Amongst the manuscript hymns is "Come, Thou Fount of every blessing." It is headed, “Hymn by the Countess of Huntingdon." It is in 5 stanzas, i.-iv. being the same, with slight differences in the text, as that noted above as being in the Collection of Hymns used by the Church of Christ in Angel Alley, Bishopsgate, 1759; and stanza v. beginning, "If Thou ever didst discover," from C. Wesley's hymn "Jesu, help Thy fallen creatures," from his Hymns & Sacred Poems, 1749, vol. ii., No. 51.
3. Upon this evidence alone (we write with the Diana Bindon manuscript and D. Sedgwick's manuscript correspondence before us) Sedgwick carried on a long controversy in the Notes and Queries and other periodicals, in 1858-9, contending throughout that "Diana Bindon" was a personal friend of Lady Huntingdon's, and that she had made her manuscript copy direct from another ms. by the Countess. And this he did not only upon the worthless evidence here given, but also whilst receiving, privately, direct testimony to the contrary, together with a positive denial made to him by Lady Huntingdon's biographer. His manuscripts show that having committed himself, he held it to be beneath him, and damaging to his reputation, to acknowledge his error.
From the foregoing account very much that appeared in the correspondence and is found in the S. MSS. is omitted, and the bare facts alone are given. These facts conclusively show that the author was Robert Robinson, and not Selina, Countess of Huntingdon.
The original text is probably that given in the Angel Alley Collection (see above, i. 3), 1759, in 4 stanzas, but the accepted text, and that which is in very extensive use in all English-speaking countries, is that given in 3 stanzas of 8 lines in Madan's Psalms & Hymns, 1760 (see above, i. 5).
--John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)
Come, Thou Fount of every blessing, p. 252, i. Sometimes given as "Father, Source of every blessing ; " and as "Jesus, Source of every blessing."
--John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology, Appendix, Part II (1907)
Bulletin Score (melody only)
The original hymn includes five verses, but most modern versions use only the first three. There are a few common word changes in different versions. In some texts, instead of “Here I find my greatest treasure,” (Psalter Hymnal) the first line of verse two reads “Here I raise mine Ebenezer,” a reference to 1 Samuel 7:12, in which Samuel sets up a stone and names it Ebenezer meaning “The Lord has helped us” (Episcopal Hymnal, Presbyterian Hymnal, Baptist Hymnal, Methodist Hymnal). As well, the last line of the second stanza can be read “Interposed his precious blood” or “bought me with his precious blood.” The two verbs signify different metaphors of the atonement of Christ.
The most common tune for the hymn is NETTLETON, an American folk tune, and some hymnals use the tune WARRENTON, from Sacred Harp music, as well as TRUST, composed by Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy.
The NETTLETON tune is easily adapted to different styles of worship. Some examples are:
A hymn of redemption and dedication, originally written for Pentecost Sunday, but also tied to Christmastime, there are a number of different places where it could be used in a service:
Laura de Jong, Hymnary.org
In 1752, a young Robert Robinson attended an evangelical meeting to heckle the believers and make fun of the proceedings. Instead, he listened in awe to the words of the great preacher George Whitefield, and in 1755, at the age of twenty, Robinson responded to the call he felt three years earlier and became a Christian. Another three years later, when preparing a sermon for his church in Norfolk, England, he penned the words that have become one of the church’s most-loved hymns: “Come, thou fount of every blessing, tune my heart to sing thy grace.”
Using imagery of Christ as the giver of living water and the shepherd gathering his sheep back into the fold, this hymn reminds the worshipper of the ever bountiful grace of God. Like Robinson, we too are “prone to wander,” and are quick to seek redemption through our own power. But God continues to bring us back from our wandering, until, songs of praise on our lips, we dance forever before the mount of His redeeming love.
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