Come Thou Fount (Worship 2)

Come thou fount of every blessing
Tune my heart to sing thy grace
–Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing

Back home, I attend a church that leans towards the hymn-singing end of the spectrum. We use a hymnal, and our services are usually at least half out of that. I truly love and am familiar with hymns.

One of my favorite hymns is Come Thou Fount. It is deep theologically, well put together musically, and thoughtful. I have heard several renditions of it–updated musically, classical hymn-style, ornately harmonized, instrumental. This gladdens me. It gives me hope that my generation will not lose its theological heritage.

In our hymnal, though, there is an update that concerns me. The second verse usually reads:

Here I raise my 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.

There’s a bit of complicated language there. Interposed. Hither. Ebenezer. It takes some work to understand.

In our hymnal, it reads a bit differently:

Hither to thy love has blessed me
Thou has 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,
Bought me with His precious blood.

I am not even going to talk about how the meaning of this verse has been subtly warped; though I truly love hymns, they are NOT scripture, even if they are based on it. Sometimes meaning needs to be changed. Sometimes, time and wisdom will show that a hymn is not sound. I do not believe that is the case here, and I do not think the changes have improved the meaning of the hymn, but that is not the point.

Why were the words changed in the first place?

They were changed to make it easier. So that those singing the song did not have to learn or think. When in the history of the church has Ebenezer been in the vernacular? If you study your Bible, you find that it is from I Samuel 7, where Samuel raises a stone to remind Israel that, “Thus far, the Lord has helped us.”

That took me a minute total. I had to pop over to my online concordance and look up the exact reference, then type it all out. A minute to better understand our heritage. What does it say about us that we can’t even give a minute to learning what those who have gone before us thought was important enough to put to music and sing corporately? What does it say that our leaders pander to this?

Worship is by believers for God. What does it say that what we are giving him is even less than the barest minimum that we would give to an easy community college course?

Categories: Musings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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One thought on “Come Thou Fount (Worship 2)

  1. crazysarah

    Very interesting post. I didn’t realize there was another version of that verse. My youth group sang a musically updated version of the hymn but with the original words. On more than one occasion, the guy leading worship paused to explain the meaning of words we were less familiar with. It did only take a few seconds, and it was beneficial for those who had never heard before and for the rest of us who need to be reminded.

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