Come Thou Fount
w - Robert Robinson, Bob Kauflin, m - Asahel Nettleton
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 name! I’m fixed upon it
Name of Thy redeeming love
Hitherto Thy love has blessed me
Thou hast brought me to this place
And I know Thy hand will bring me
Safely home by Thy good grace
Jesus sought me when a stranger
Wandering from the fold of God
He, to rescue me from danger
Interposed 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, oh take and seal it
Seal it for Thy courts above
Oh that day when freed from sinning
I shall see Thy lovely face
Full arrayed in blood-washed linen
How I’ll sing Thy sovereign grace
Come, my Lord, no longer tarry
Bring Thy promises to pass
For I know Thy pow’r will keep me
Till I’m home with Thee at last
While this series is called “Exegeting the Hymns”, it is true, and I admit, with some songs, I am actually Eisegeting the Hymn. While exegesis is the process of drawing out the meaning from a text based on context and the original meaning of its author, eisegesis occurs when a reader imposes their interpretation onto the text. Some lines in songs can be taken several ways and quite frankly, we may sometimes disagree with the original intent of the author. It is one of the pastor’s jobs to guard the gates so wolves (false teachers and their doctrines) don’t get a foothold in the church. As Worship leader, my job is to watch one particular gate… the gate of our worship music, the songs we sing.
I do carefully look at the doctrine of artists we cover in our worship sets. Some are very orthodox and we agree with them on all the major doctrines and most secondary issues (The Getty’s, Sovereign Grace Music, Chris Tomlin, Steven Curtis Chapman, etc.), and some we do not agree with at all doctrinally on many major issues, specifically Word-of-Faith cults that are very prolific in their writing and are very popular in evangelical culture today. This does not mean that they cannot, on rare occasion, accidentally craft a well written song that could be edifying to the church.
That is one of the reasons I am writing this series. Usually, I exegete, giving the original intent of the author, but sometimes, if the original intent of a line is doctrinally false, I will actually eisegete, and read our intent into that line, so we all are clear about what WE mean for the song to teach. If the line can’t be “made right” …we just will never sing that song.
Having said all that, it is a real pleasure when I get to exegete a song that gets it right from the very first word and “Come Thou Fount” is such a song.
Come, Thou Fount of every blessing, Tune my heart to sing Thy grace. God is the source of every blessing and grace that we as believers receive. He is even the source of what we call “Common Grace” to all people (The rain falls on the just and the unjust). Every breath we take is a blessing from God and we should be thankful every minute of the day. This is a call for God to “Tune our hearts” to better praise Him. All of our praise falls hopelessly short of what He deserves and we pray that God will, through His Spirit, make our praise acceptable to Him. Streams of mercy never ceasing call for songs of loudest praise. God shows us mercy, not just at the point of salvation, but because our flesh is not yet redeemed, and we constantly fall short of His glory, we need a continual stream of mercy that our Father does provide.
Teach me some melodious sonnet sung by flaming tongues above. I take this line to refer to those worshiping at the very throne, in the very presence of God. This is a prayer that we will somehow learn how to worship like those who have been at the feet of the Creator for thousands of years. In our earthly state, we desire, but often lack the ability to properly Praise the name! I’m fixed upon it, Name of Thy redeeming love.
Hitherto Thy love has blessed me. Thou hast brought me to this place. And I know Thy hand will bring me safely home by Thy good grace. Don’t let the “Hitherto” throw you. It means “until now” or “up to this point”. Up to this point in our lives God has blessed us and has brought us to where we are. The steps of a righteous man are ordered by the Lord. This speaks of what we call “Divine Providence”. That means everything that happens in this life is either decreed to happen or allowed to happen. Nothing surprises God. We are where we are by the providence of God. This God who has blessed us up to this point, will also bring us safely home, not by our own power, but by His power and grace.
Jesus sought me when a stranger wandering from the fold of God. No one seeks after God (Romans 3:11). God seeks after us. We, like a wandering sheep must be sought after. He, to rescue me from danger interposed His precious blood. Another old word “Interposed” has been changed to “Bought me with” in many arrangements, but I like the original word better as it conveys an even more vivid picture. The word “Interposed” means to “Place between one thing and another”. Here, the context is the “Danger” we all face, referring, not to Satan or to sin, but to to the very wrath of God Himself. Jesus rescued us from the danger by placing Himself, through His blood, between us and God’s wrath. He bore all of God’s wrath, aimed at us, on Himself when He hung on the cross.
Oh to grace how great a debtor daily I’m constrained to be. Now that we see that we have been rescued by Christ, who paid, in His blood, our penalty, we are in debt to Him. We are His slaves. He owns us and that is not a bad thing. While the 19th century slave trade has made the idea of slavery always negative in our minds, the inspired Word uses that analogy in our relationship to our Father. He bought us and now owns us and we are compelled to serve Him by His loving act in salvation. Let Thy goodness, like a fetter bind my wandering heart to Thee. A “fetter” is a chain or something used to bind a prisoner. The realization of God’s goodness and lovingkindness toward us should act as a chain to bind our heart to God. It is a heart that is Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love. Even though our new nature is bent toward serving God, our flesh is still bent toward disobedience. God’s act of mercy toward its should act as an incentive to mortify the flesh and serve our Master. Here’s my heart, oh take and seal it. Seal it for Thy courts above. We are sealed by the Holy Spirit for the day of redemption. All those who have been justified are as good as glorified in the plan and mind of God (Romans 8:28-29).
This last verse we sing is a new one, written by Bob Kauflin of Sovereign Grace Music and I love it. Oh that day when freed from sinning I shall see Thy lovely face. When we are justified, we are free from the penalty of sin, as we continue in sanctification, we are becoming more and more freed from the power of sin, and when we are finally called home and released from this flesh, we will be free from even the presence of sin. Full arrayed in blood-washed linen, How I’ll sing Thy sovereign grace. Heavenly creatures are already standing around the throne singing of God’s redeeming grace toward us (Revelation 5:9-10), so surely, when we get there, we will do the same, being the ones actually redeemed!
Come, my Lord, no longer tarry, bring Thy promises to pass For I know Thy pow’r will keep me Till I’m home with Thee at last. God’s plan will be carried out exactly as He planned from before the foundation of the world. We are just waiting for the day it all comes to pass. Our salvation is sure, so take comfort in that and thank God for every blessing along the way.
Bill Itzel has been a worship leader and singer/songwriter for almost 30 years and is based in Westminster, MD. His family tours and leads worship, not only in their home church (Mt. Airy Bible Church), but around the country. This is a blog about congregational worship and the latest news in the The Itzel's ministry.