Saturday, March 21, 2009

Come Thou Fount

This is one of my favorite hymns. It resonates within my heart like little else. It's been on my mind for the last few days, and I've been meditating on the words.

Come Thou Fount

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 melodius sonnet
Sung by flaming tongues above
Praise the mount! I'm fixed upon it
Mount of Thy redeeming love

Here I raise mine Ebenezer
Hither by Thy help I'm 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,
interposed His precious blood

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

I think there are a number of reasons why this song resonates so deeply with me.
First of all, I love words and word pictures. There are several here that give me pictures of theology that make it digestible and real to me. The picture of God's grace and blessing as a fountain flowing with rushing water and streams of mercy leaves my heart refreshed. As a musician, the thought of tuning my heart to hear His grace reminds me of the dissonance and disharmony that comes, not from close harmony, but voices or instruments out of tune with one another. It makes me recognize the discord in my own heart and relationships when I've fallen out of tune with His grace. Mixed with a melody that I dearly love, these truths and images find their way into my heart.

I relate deeply with the sentiment of the author. When he writes, "Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love", I feel the pain, sorrow, and disconnect that comes when I realize I have wandered away from my First Love. I feel the pull of my sin nature so often and I am prone to wander into it, even though I know it's not in my best interest. I hear the words of Paul, "For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do - this I keep on doing" (Romans 7:19) and I understand his struggle. I've been in that place where I have the best of intentions to do what is right, but I fall yet again. And, it's not because I don't love God, it's just those moments when I lose the battle with my flesh. And, that's why I love the beginning of that verse, "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". I owe so much to the grace of God. If I were to be bound to anything, I would want to be chained to the grace of God and unable to wander from the God I love. I want, more than anything, to stay in the will of God and contiue in His grace and mercy. I hate the times when I wander.

The second verse is a quick presentation of the Gospel story. We come to God only with His help. Jesus came after us when we were strangers to Him. His blood covers our sin, takes our place, and allows us access to the family of God.

There is an argument to be made that old hymns deliver stronger messages than the contemporary praise choruses employed by many churches. I think it's good to have a combination of both and truly enjoy contemporary artists who have begun refreshing hymns for a new generation. But, what I love about hymns is the straight forward voices of the writers and the deep theology taught through song. I love how they stir my heart, challenge my faith, and remind me of deep spiritual truths. And, I love how the vehicle of song puts these nuggets in my heart in a way that few sermons ever have.

I grew up with hymns, but it has been so long since I've been part of a church where hymns are common that I've forgotten their power. I love contemporary worship songs, but there is still a place for hymns in our modern worship. Their truths never change, for they speak the truth of God. Perhaps the vehicle needs tweaking in order to find its way into the hearts of this generation. But, the truths, they are timeless, and stirring, and a tool that God has used over and over again to bind my wandering heart to Him.

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