Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing (Nettleton)

Text by Robert Robinson 1758
Tune: Nettleton by John Wyeth 1813

Here is a recording I did of Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing:

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 thy redeeming love.

2. 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.

3. 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.
Robert Robinson 1787

As a student of history, I frequently read texts that are several centuries old. Two things often stand out, one is the very poetic and descriptive language used and the other is the frequent presence of archaic words and sentence structures.

Most of our hymns have a two part history. The first is the poetry and the second is the tune and its harmonization. Sometimes we become so accustomed to singing a tune with a poem we never take a close look at the text. So we sing heartily about raising our Ebenezer and never stop to wonder: “What did I just do? Was it polite to do in mixed company?” And in our ignorance we miss the great theological truths of which we sing.

The first stanza speaks to the immeasurable mercies and grace which come from the mount of God’s unchanging love. And as only a poet can do, this mount of God’s unchanging love pivots into the opening phrase of the second verse.

In I Samuel 7:12 it says: “Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen, and called its name Ebenezer; saying, “Thus far the LORD has helped us.””

The Ark of the Covenant had just been returned to the Israelites by the Philistines after they had captured it in battle. The Israelites were struggling with their faithfulness to the one true God. After the Ark had been returned and their enemies vanquished, Samuel took a large stone and set it up between the cities of Mizpah and Shen to mark the help the Israelites had received from God. It became both a monument and a reminder of God’s faithfulness. So when we raise our Ebenezer we are placing a public monument, acknowledging God’s faithfulness to us.

So raising your Ebenezer is a very big deal and most certainly should be done in mixed company. It also speaks to the question: If you were arrested for your faith, would there be enough evidence to convict you? Have you raised an Ebenezer to God’s faithfulness?

Throughout the Old Testament, we read of monuments and alters being built in acknowledgement of Israel’s covenanting with and dependence upon God. Mr. Robert Robinson, back in 1787 reminds us today of the importance of publicly acknowledging our faith and covenant with God.

In the third verse, Robinson writes of his innate inability to remain faithful and his complete dependence upon God to hold himself bound to God. So this public Ebenezer is one more reminder for our ever failing and wandering heart to remember and bind ourselves to God’s everlasting love which he showed in its greatest splendor in the sacrificial love of the cross.

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Here are some of my favorite Hymnals:

Presbyterian 1955 Hymnbook:

Episcopal 1940 Hymnal: 

Broadman 1940 Hymnal:

Methodist 1939 Hymnal:

Pilgrim 1935 Hymnal:

Now Sings My Soul, New Songs for the Lord by: Linda Bonney Olin:

Choice Hymns of the Faith 1945

Book of Psalms for Singing (1912 Psalter is unavailable)

Hymns Ancient and Modern

Here are my new projects:

Trinity Hymnal 1960

Lutheran 1909 Hymnal

J S Bach Riemenschneider 371 Harmonized Chorales


Dictionary of Hymnology:

American Hymns Old and New