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Tea Party Winners: Carla Gade's winner is Becky Dempsey, Andrea Boeshaar's winner Caryl Kane, Gina Welborn's winner Jasmine A., Carrie Fancett Pagels' winners book copy -- Lynda Edwards, teacup and saucer -- Wendy Shoults

Sunday, September 23, 2012

THE INSPIRATION OF CHRISTIAN MUSIC


The Inspiration of Christian Music
By
Janet Grunst


Music is a gift from God that can inspire, heal, encourage, and comfort. Hymns, and their lyrics, often reveal a story about the author, or at the very least something that has impacted them significantly. The music is often created from some deep place within their soul, restless to be released in worship of the God who generously gives solace, sustenance, and salvation. The writing of the hymn can be a cathartic balm to whatever trial the author has, or is enduring. Some religious music can unveil pure adoration in recognition of the magnificence and mercy of God and some Christian music has done more to spread the gospel than sermons by great Theologians.

Horatio Spafford expressed the comfort God brought him when he penned “It Is Well With My Soul” after the loss of four daughters in a tragic accident at sea. John Newton, a slave trader, authored “Amazing Grace” after his conversion, and later ordination, as a testament to his redemption by God’s amazing grace.  

Do you ever have a tune, often with its lyrics, that repeatedly plays in your head? Lately, an old hymn penned by Robert Robinson has been running through my mind. Here’s the hymn, with its two versions, followed by some information about its origin.

Come, Thou Fount 
or
Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing

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.

Sorrowing I shall be in spirit,
Till released from flesh and sin,
Yet from what do I inherit,
Here Thy praises I'll begin;
Here I raise my Ebenezer;
Here by thy great help I've 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;
How His kindness yet pursues me
Mortal tongue can never tell,
Clothed in flesh, till death shall loose me
I cannot proclaim it well.

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.

O that day when freed from sinning,
I shall see Thy lovely face;
Clothed in blood washed linen
How I'll sing Thy sovereign grace;
Come, my Lord, no longer tarry,
Take my ransomed soul away;
Send Thine angels now to carry
Me to realms of endless day.
 

Scripture Reference ~ I Samuel 7:12 

“Then Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpeh and Shen, and called it the name of it Ebenezer, saying, Hitherto hath the Lord helped us.”


Author ~ Robert Robinson  1735-1790
Robert Robertson
After his father’s death, when he was only eight, Robert Robinson’s behavior became so challenging that his mother sent him to London to apprentice as a barber. While there he pursued a life of drinking and gambling; until, at the age of seventeen, he attended a meeting where George Whitfield was speaking. The evangelist’s words haunted him until he was twenty when he gave his life to Christ in 1755. Soon after his conversion he was called to the ministry. It was 1758 when he was preparing for a sermon that he wrote "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing". He was only twenty-three when he based this hymn on 1 Samuel 7:12, acknowledging God's faithfulness. Later, lapses in his faith, behavior, and dabbling in Unitarianism seem almost prophetic in the stanzas: "Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love;" There is a story that he heard a woman humming his hymn, and when she asked what he thought of it, he emotionally responded that he wished he had the feelings he had when he penned the hymn.

  

Composer ~  John Wyeth  1770-1858

John Wyeth
John Wyeth, from Massachusetts became a printer and newspaperman in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Within a year, George Washington appointed him postmaster, a post he kept for five years.

Little is known about his musical background except that he possibly had music lessons as a child. His interest in psalmody may have originated only as an amateur, but he had an appreciation and an interest in collecting sacred music, and the business sense, and printing experience to envision a need for developing a hymnal. In 1813, he published "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing" in Wyeth’s Repository of Sacred Songs.


Tune ~ “Nettleton”

The tune, “Nettleton”, was named for Asahel Nettleton an American Reformed theologian and pastor, from Connecticut, who was influenced by the Second Great Awakening. Nettleton’s primary focus was on ministering to heathens as he traveled as a missionary throughout the states.





This hymn, like so many others, has endured the test of time, ministering to people’s hurts and inspiring their hopes for generations.



8 comments:

  1. I love this post because few people really realize where some of our best known hymnals came from and how some of our church music came to be. Thanks for sharing!

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  2. Janet, thank you so much for this post. I enjoy learning the stories behind hymns. This particular one reaches something in me so deep that when I hear or sing the line "Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love," I have to close my eyes and let the meaning wash over, in, and through me.

    I have many favorite hymns and songs of praise, but lately my internal song is “I Know My Redeemer Lives,” especially the verse:

    The very same God
    That spins things in orbit
    Runs to the weary, the worn and the weak
    And the same gentle hands that hold me when I'm broken
    They conquered death to bring me victory.

    The encouragement from that song leads me to “Blessed Assurance,” which bubbles up inside me, and despite my circumstances, I can’t wipe the smile from my face as I sing:

    Perfect submission, all is at rest!
    I in my Savior am happy and blest,
    Watching and waiting, looking above,
    Filled with his goodness, lost in His love.

    This is my story ….

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  3. Janet, wonderful hymns. It Is Well with My Soul is one of my favorites. I would sing it to my babies while nursing in the wee hours of the morning.

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  4. One of my favorite hymns. And it was known in the late 18th century, so of course I've slipped it into at least one story.

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  5. Thank you for your response, ladies. I think knowing the history behind the hymns makes them even more meaningful. Spiritual music can profoundly minister to wounded areas, and lift us beyond our present circumstances.

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  6. Thank you for writing about my favorite hymn, Janet. Until reading your beautifully written article, I was unaware of its origin.

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  7. In a time of extreme desolation the old hymn, Great Is Thy Faithfulness, rose up from the middle of my middle.

    "Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
    Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide,
    Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
    Blessings all mind with ten thousand beside."

    It saved me from wrecking my car on a lonely road when tears threatened to blind me.

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  8. Sometimes, Judith, blinding tears give us a clearer vision of His never ending grace.

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