Summary: This is a Hymnology Sermon Series teaching the stories behind some of the most beloved hymns found in our hymnals.
(Facts compiled from “52 Hymn Stories Dramatized,” and “Living Stories of Famous Hymns,” as well as extensive internet search. Two people speak back and forth to present this sermon. Video used in this sermon can be purchased at bluefishtv.)
Proverbs 10:22 22 The blessing of the LORD brings wealth, and he adds no trouble to it.
Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing
We are continuing our February sermon series called “Hymnology 101.” We are spending this entire month looking at some of the most famous hymns that we so often take for granted. Every song in our hymnal has a history, every song has a profound story behind it, and every song is rich with God’s love and inspiration. As we learn the history behind these songs, it is our hope… that we look to every song we sing… with more dedication, more understanding, and more focus on worshiping our God.
We are featuring today a praise song that many of you will instantly recognize. It is a song that recognizes God’s abundant grace and his eternal love for us all. The story of its author is not unique, however… it is a story that is slightly surprising coming from someone who penned the words “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing.”
Josh: “Give her some more liquor, boys,” the young man said. The poor gipsy woman was already so drunk she could hardly stand on her feet. But the wild and reckless young men were determined to get her even more drunk.
Pastor: “Pour it into her, and we’ll get her to tell our fortunes,” seventeen-year-old Robert Robinson shouted. The others plied her with more intoxicants until she agreed to predict their futures for nothing.
Josh: “She doesn’t know what she’s saying; she’s drunk,” one of the rowdier ones shouted, after she had prophesied that evil fortune awaited him. “You ought to know,” Robinson replied. “You’re the one who poured it into her mouth!”
Pastor: Turning to the self-appointed leader, the bleary-eyed gipsy pointed a quivering finger to Robinson and said, “And you, young man, you will live to see your children and your grandchildren.” Robinson suddenly grew pale and said, “You’re right. She’s too drunk to know what she’s saying. Leave her alone. Let’s go.”
Josh: But her words haunted him the rest of the day. “If I’m going to live to see my children and grandchildren,” he thought,” I’ll have to change my way of living. I can’t keep on doing what I’m doing now.”
Pastor: That very night, half in fun and half in curiosity, he took his gang to a church service nearby where the famous evangelist, George Whitfield, was preaching. “We’ll go down and laugh at the poor deluded Methodists,” he explained.
Josh: But the spirit of God was already at work in the troubled heart and confused mind of the wayward youth. That night Whitfield preached from Matthew 3:7, “O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” The message sobered and frightened Robinson at the same time. He felt that the preacher was speaking to him and only to him.
Pastor: Although he had intended to go scoff at the worshipers and make fun of the minister, young Robert was so impressed and convicted by Whitefield’s strong evangelistic preaching that he soon professed faith in Christ as his Savior. Before long he felt called to enter the ministry.
Josh: Joining the Methodists, and feeling the call to preach, Robinson was appointed by John Wesley to the Calvinist Methodist Chapel, Norfolk, England. There, for the celebration of Pentecost, in 1858, three years after his marvelous conversion, he penned his spiritual autobiography… we now know it as “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing.”
Pastor: Despite his youth, Robert Robinson became known as an able minister and scholar. His vast knowledge of scripture comes to light in the second stanza of this famous hymn. Have you ever wondered about the interesting phrase found there?
Josh: “Here I raise mine Ebenezer, hither by Thy help I come.”
Pastor: Often we sing words such as these without even thinking about what they mean. This particular line refers to the account in 1 Samuel 7 where the Ebenezer or stone was raised by Samuel as a symbolic memorial of God’s faithfulness of His chosen people.
Josh: “While Samuel was sacrificing the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to engage Israel in battle. But that day the Lord thundered with loud thunder against the Philistines and threw them into such a panic that they were routed before the Israelites. The men of Israel rushed out of Mizpah and pursued the Philistines, slaughtering them along the way… Then Samuel took a stone and set it up and named it Ebenezer, saying, ‘Thus far has the Lord helped us.’ So the Philistines were subdued and did not invade Israelite territory again” (1 Samuel 7:10-13)