Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing

The Recovering Baptist had playing last night the most beautiful rendition of my favorite hymn, “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing.” 

God, I just love that hymn.  I like how it’s all “Teach me some melodious sonnet” right at the point where it’s gone from all plod, plod, plod, plod to a more melodious moment.  I love how the longing in the hymn is just palpable.

And I think the last verse (at least the last verse in the Methodist hymnal–looking online I see that dear Robert Robinson did not know that one does not challenge the Wesleys for longest hymns in the hymnal.  Shit like that will get your hymn cut down to four verses so fast your head will spin.) is some of the most amazing poetry in hymnody.

Check this out:

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.

You can’t get that kind of complexity across in a praise hymn.  Shoot, I don’t even think you can fit that whole verse on an overhead projector.

I tease.

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26 thoughts on “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing

  1. Won’t you look down upon me Jesus,
    You gotta help me make a stand
    you just got to see me
    through another day
    My bodys achin
    My time is at hand
    and i won’t make it
    any other way.

    I can’t remember what verse mentions sweet dreams and flying machines, but this is my favorite hymn.

  2. I like that “hymn” too Mack.
    Of course I’ll go ahead and write “Drop Kick Me Jesus in the goalposts of life.” Bobby Bare (?)
    Yeah, big hit with my hippie upbringing.

    And B., I don’t know if I’ve ever said this before but I do believe that Don Williams “Good Old Boys Like me” (title?) is one of my favs.

  3. We have that song in our “these are hymns” songlist. We use that songlist when traveling to churches that have been doing schlocky praise songs so long they don’t know what a song with heft sounds like. We’re like missionaries in those settings. We just add drums and distorted guitar so the congregation doesn’t feel totally out of place. And a Jethro Tull flute.

    When the song breaks to the minor key (the part you’ve referenced) we break into a harmony that, if you don’t get a chill in your bones hearing it, you have no heart.

    If you ever come to one of our rare “perfomance” gigs, we’ll play it especially for you. :)

    As an aside, I finally talked the band into doing a “Try a Little Tenderness” inspired version of “It Is Well With My Soul”. Being public domain and all, we’re putting it on the next CD. It’s going to blow a few minds.

    Mack, it’s the last verse. How Sweet It Is is a better “praise” song. We’re working up my favorite of Taylor’s, “Only One”

  4. And, travelling in the other direction, were y’all aware that Pete Guralnick has identified the gospel song that was the basis for “I Got a Woman”? I consider this to be an absolutely lovely piece of archival research.

  5. ‘Coma, I cannot listen to “Good Ole Boys Like Me.” It, “Puff the Magic Dragon,” and that old hippy song by the Bellamy Brothers just turn me into a sobbing mess of mess.

    Slarti, I cannot wait! I would totally come out to hear that. And “It is Well with My Soul,” which is another favorite of mine.

    I once heard ‘Amazing Grace’ to the tune of “O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing” which I was trying to replicate in the shower this morning, but I realized that since I know both of those songs by heart, I could not keep straight, when trying to do one to the other’s tune, which verses went with which.

    Mack, I would love to hear Kris Kristofferson cover that. Wouldn’t that be awesome?

  6. Drop kick me, Jesus through the goal posts of life
    End over end, neither left nor to right
    Straight through the heart of them righteous uprights
    Drop kick me, Jesus through the goal posts of life

  7. I have some Catholic favorites (“Hail, Holy Queen”), some Wob roof-raisers (“Where the Fraser River Flows”), and some Movement Songs (“Lift Every Voice and Sing”). But my favorite hymn has been ruined for me. I was the service leader for our congregation the Sunday after 9/11 and so I selected what I thought was going to be a heartening peace song. Wow. I had no idea how painful actually singing this was going to be. Now I only have to hear the opening bars of “Finlandia” to break into tears.

    This is my song, Oh God of all the nations,
    A song of peace for lands afar and mine.
    This is my home, the country where my heart is;
    Here are my hopes, my dreams, my sacred shrine.
    But other hearts in other lands are beating,
    With hopes and dreams as true and high as mine.

    My country’s skies are bluer than the ocean,
    And sunlight beams on cloverleaf and pine.
    But other lands have sunlight too and clover,
    And skies are everywhere as blue as mine.
    Oh hear my song, oh God of all the nations,
    A song of peace for their land and for mine.

    When nations rage, and fears erupt coercive,
    The drumbeats sound, invoking pious cause.
    My neighbors rise, their stalwart hearts they offer,
    The gavels drop, suspending rights and laws.
    While others wield their swords with blind devotion;
    For peace I’ll stand, my true and steadfast cause.

    May truth and freedom come to every nation;
    May peace abound where strife has raged so long;
    That each may seek to love and build together,
    A world united, righting every wrong;
    A world united in its love for freedom,
    Proclaiming peace together in one song.

  8. B, it’s a song called “It Must Be Jesus,” performed by the Southern Tones in the mid ’50s. Idon’t know whether it’s awesome. I did not hear it. My husband and my employer were both there, but does nm get to go? Nooooooooo. You will say that it’s my own fault for not inviting Guralnick over for dinner on condition that he bring entertainment, but it didn’t occur to me until he had already left town. However, the CD on which it has recently been collected (Pewburner #542) is on order, so a further report will be forthcoming for those interested….

    Bridgett, my best friend from grade school was Ethical Culture and they used to sing “Finlandia”. Also “Go Down, Moses”. I always thought it was an interesting combination of musical styles.

  9. Be Thou My Vision was my solo at the church service before college commencement. It brings back many good memories.

    I’m a UU/Summer Quaker. (For those of you not familiar with Unitarian Universalism, many UU congregations do not meet formally during the summertime. Some UUs like myself fan out to other area meetings with whom we find fellowship. I have a very liberal Friends meeting about two blocks away from my house, so I worship with them when my own congregation disbands for the summer months.) The current UU hymnal is an eclectic blend and many of songs of more recent crafting sound like Dr. Pepper commercials. Luckily, my congregation is musically inclined and so we go off-book frequently. But yeah, we have everything from James Taylor to Joe Hill to Audre Lorde to W.C. Handy to John Wesley. And of course, songs with lyrics by Mary Oliver, who I think is the unofficial poet laureate of Unitarianism.

  10. Definitely on of my favorites! And that last verse is the best.

    Kat, “Be Thou My Vision” is alright, I find it to be a bit boring and tedious though if not sung in the right meter.

  11. Katherine, I have three hymns on my ipod. One is Come Thou Fount, another is an a capella version of Amazing Grace and the third is Be Thou My Vision.

  12. Kat, “Be Thou My Vision” is alright, I find it to be a bit boring and tedious though if not sung in the right meter.

    A lot of people have trouble with the meter on the Celtic and Welsh hymns. The profusion of notes tends to make people want to slow them down. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard Rhondda (Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah) turned from an upbeat celebration into a draaaagy funereal tune I’d be able to buy the Mothership.

  13. Sing to the tune of “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God”. This is what I used to do in chapel. Change the words to hymns:

    The Southern Baptist church is ours
    We dress up Sunday mornings.
    We sing our hymns from out a book
    Not from a screen like godless things.
    Our cooking tastes like poo.
    Our salmon patties too.
    Our casseroles with peas.
    But despite all of these, At least our young don’t wear heathen bling.

    We don’t know what you’re talking about
    Our music minister is not gay.
    Well maybe that intern from last spring
    But he was just a little bit fey.
    A metrosexual.
    He’s probably going to Hell.
    But he was a nice guy.
    And thanks to his queer eye, The sanctuary is fung shui’ed.

    Our politics are cut and dried
    Your common sense it holds no sway
    We like our women to submit
    We think the arts are for the Gays.
    We are Ann Coulter fans.
    We vote Republican.
    At least real Baptists do.
    We boycott Disney too.
    We do not like the NEA.

  14. I have three hymns on my ipod. One is Come Thou Fount, another is an a capella version of Amazing Grace and the third is Be Thou My Vision.

    :-) I can’t fault your taste. I suppose I have enough hymns on my iPod for all of Nashville. It does make Party Shuffle complicated though.

    There’s nothing like going straight from “Rudie Can’t Fail” to “Jesus Never Fails”.

    As for BTMV, there are many wonderful covers, but none so purely Irish as Van Morrison’s. I mean, I think the dude was drunk for that.

  15. Hymms:

    From my time as a Baptist: (twenty years or so back)

    “Great is Thy Faithfulness” because, well, just because I survived it.

    I *flove* Be Thou My Vision.
    From college-time:

    Cantate Domino…(Palestrina. Latin.)

    And I don’t know why but…

    “My Lord What a Morning…”

    I have no explanation. I just like it.

    I am now irreligious, but I don’t put up with non melodic, lousy church music….

    And, “It is Well” if done with a bit of zest….

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  17. Ha. I totally didn’t notice when this went up. But I’ve been bad with that recently. (*grumble grumble* stupid internet problems)

    Hmmm. I love hymns, honestly. I don’t always agree with what they say (and I think Wesley was just a hoot, albeit a pretty cool one), but I love the… the longing, and the emotion that can come when you find the right one. And since there’s been one written for just about every shade of emotion (if not, heh, for every situation that might cause said emotion), there’s a good chance that you might find what you’re looking for.

    I, the Lord of sea and sky,
    I have heard my people cry.
    All who dwell in dark and sin,
    My hand will save.

    Chorus
    Here I am, Lord. Is it I, Lord?
    I have heard you calling in the night.
    I will go, Lord, if you lead me.
    I will hold your people in my heart.

    [...]

    I will break their hearts of stone,
    Give them hearts for love alone.
    I will speak my words to them.
    Whom shall I send?

    Chorus
    Here I am, Lord. Is it I, Lord?
    I have heard you calling in the night.
    I will go, Lord, if you lead me.
    I will hold your people in my heart.

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  19. It’s funny: my first reaction was to post the lyrics (not now, since I don’t have them with me, but at some point over the weekend), but then I saw the “oh please send it to me personally since I can’t be bothered to bookmark a site from which I have requested information and check back here for it” addition and now I’m not sure. You want to convince me why I ought to, since you are doing such a breathtakingly good job with the human relationship stuff today?* Because I see someone asking for help with her homework in the laziest way.

    *To be read completely without snark.

  20. Lyrics to “It Must Be Jesus”: I put the responses in for the first verse, but after that you can figure them out for yourselves.

    Oh, there’s a man (It must be Jesus)
    Going ‘round (must be Jesus)
    Taking names (must be Jesus)
    There’s a man (must be Jesus)
    Going ‘round (must be Jesus)
    Taking names (oh, Lord)
    You know he took (oh, he did)
    My mother’s name (my mother’s name)
    And he bears (yes, he bears)
    My heart and fame (my heart and fame)
    There’s a man (must be Jesus)
    Going ‘round (must be Jesus)
    Taking names

    There’s a man
    Giving sight
    To the blind
    There’s a man
    Giving sight
    To the blind
    He healed the sick
    He raised the dead
    Yes, Jesus gave
    To who needed bread
    There’s a man
    Giving sight
    To the blind

    And there are days
    When I’m sad
    I go to him
    He’ll make me glad

    He’s my water
    He’s my bread
    And he’s my doctor
    On my sickbed

    He’s my rock
    My mighty tower
    He’s all my strength
    And all my power

    He’ll be your mother
    When mother’s gone
    He’ll be your shelter
    In times of storm

    When you are broke
    Don’t know what to do
    Just trust in him
    And he’ll see you through
    Oh, there’s a man
    Going ‘round
    Taking names

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