One of my favorite hymns is “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing.” There are few songs I sing with greater intensity, in fact.1
What is it about this song that is so captivating for me? I think a lot of it has to do with how it resonates with my own experience.
All throughout this song, we find the cry of a heart that knows its own proneness to drift away from the Lord. From its first lines—”Come Thou Fount of every blessing / Tune my heart to sing Thy grace”—to its last—”Here’s my heart, O take and seal it / Seal it for Thy courts above.”
It’s a song to remind the heart of what the Lord has done. To fix our eyes on the “Mount of God’s unchanging love.” It’s a memorial to Jesus as the one who helps us—our Ebenezer—by whose help alone we can come, and by whose pleasure we will live on in the kingdom to come.
This same Jesus who “sought me when a stranger,” when I wasn’t looking for Christ and he was but a stranger to me. Who nevertheless, came and sought me out. Who rescued me from danger, and placed his blood between me and the judgment of God.
Is it even possible to mumble your way through such things?
But where I sing the loudest is during what in most modern hymnals is the final 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.
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.
It’s the plea in these words that are so moving—and resonate so deeply. That proneness to wander, to leave the God I love… This acknowledgement of our total, and utter dependence upon the Lord… that we need him to bind our hearts to him, lest we wander off after other things. That we are prone to wander, no matter how deeply we say we love Jesus.
Does that not sound like much of your week and walk with the Lord? You struggle in your prayer life. You struggle in your devotions. Your mind wanders off to the things of the world and whatever you’re binge-watching on Netflix… Can we be honest? That’s probably most of us reading this post right now. It’s definitely the guy writing it.
But this isn’t the stuff of your typical praise song, is it? It’s hard to make a song like this fit the “victorious Christian living” mould. And I suspect it’s what more of us really need—a little less victory and a little more humility.
There’s nothing particularly wrong about boisterously singing of how we’ll “lay me down,”2 but I’m not always sure it’s the right thing. Sometimes I think God might be more greatly praised when we sing of the wandering nature of our hearts—for it’s in our weakness that his strength is made perfect in us.