Behind the Hymn Sunday: Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing

Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing was written by Rev. Robert Robinson in the 18th Century. He was twenty-two when he penned

Rev. Robert Robinson

Rev. Robert Robinson

the words in 1757.
As a young man Robinson lived a wild life that was full of debauchery. The story goes that Robert Robinson came upon a gypsy who said “And you, young man, you will live to see your children and your grandchildren.”

Her words haunted him and he felt that he needed to change his way of living. His father died when he was eight and by the age of fourteen, he was sent to barbering school. That night he went to a Methodist meeting led by Evangelist George Whitefield. His intention in going was to make fun of those “poor, deluded Methodist.” The sermon was based on the Sadducees and Pharisees in Matthew 3:7. Apparently, that was the planting of the seeds that would change his life. Another three years would pass before he accepted Christ into his heart, on December 10. 1755.

Evangelist George Whitfield

After accepting Christ, Robinson felt the call and entered the ministry, teaching himself. He served Calvinist Methodist Chapel, Norfolk, England and a Baptist church in Cambridge, England. He wrote various hymns and theological books during his career.

For Pentecost {or Whit Sunday} 1858, he decided to pen his spiritual autobiography. Come Thou Fount is the result of what he wrote on that occasion. Part of the passage was taken from 1 Samuel 7:12. Robinson said it was “a prayer that the Holy Spirit flood into our hearts with his streams of mercy, enabling us to sing God’s praises and remain faithful to Him.”

1 Samuel 7:12 “Samuel took a stone and set it up . . . and called its name Ebenezer; for he said, “Till now the Lord has helped us.”   The term Ebenezer means “stone of help” in the Hebrew language.

Legend says that one day while riding in a stagecoach a lady asked him what he thought of the hymn she was humming, Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing. He responded, “Madam, I am the poor unhappy man who wrote that hymn many years ago, and I would give a thousand worlds, if I had them, to enjoy the feelings I had then.”

John Wyeth

John Wyeth

Robinson published a number of other works during his lifetime. He died on June 9, 1790, at the age of fifty-four.

In the United States, the hymn is usually to the American folk tune, Nettleton, composed by John Wyeth. In the United Kingdom, the hymn is sung to the Bost tune, Normandy. The hymn first appeared in Wyeth’s Repository of Sacred Songs hymnal in 1813.

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