Welcome to The Pen Of The Muses! The posts below are often about theological, philosophical, political, lit., or writing topics because that's what's really important to me and what I'm most excited about sharing. But I am human. Man lives not by deep theological concepts alone. Not everything I post will be weighty.

-D.C. Salmon

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Come Thou Fount Of Every Blessing Analysis

My favorite hymn of all time is "Come Thou Fount Of Every Blessing". Here's a line-by line analysis with some grammatical explanations, just to keep things clear. ¡Enjoy!

Come, thou fount of every blessing,
This line compares God to a fountain that is continually pouring forth blessings and goodness. 

Tune my heart to sing thy grace (praise);
This line shows a willing heart to worship God, but admits that I am still a fallen human. In the version that uses grace is also says specifically that I want to praise God's grace.

Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Another water analogy, now using a river or a stream. Have you ever noticed that streams really do seem unending? The water just keeps coming and coming, with gallons upon gallons rushing past. A fitting analogy for God's mercy. Note that it uses the word mercy instead of grace now. 

NOTE: The difference between mercy and grace: You are given mercy when you don't receive a punishment that you fully deserve. You are given grace when you are given a good thing that you don't deserve. When your mom doesn't ground you for disobeying her, that's mercy. When she gives you cookies right after you've been disrespectful to her that's grace. ¿Got it? Good. :)

Call for songs of loudest praise.
This is actually a continuation of the last line, but even so it shows that God's mercy merits the maximum amount of praise because of its greatness.

Teach me some melodious sonnet, 
This line shows again that I am a sinner, unable to glorify God as He deserves.

Sung by flaming tongues above. 
This phrase modifies the word sonnet. Duh, but I want to be clear. This lines says that I want to be as good at worshiping as the very ones who are in God's presence.

Praise the mount! I'm fixed upon it,
A comparison of God's love to a mountain, unmoving, unchangeable, and stable. This line reiterates, one, that God's love is immovable, and two, that I am an object of His love. Also, this line shows that God's love is not dependent on anything that we do. The thing that His love is compared to is not something that we can hold, or even reject. 

Mount of God's (thy) redeeming (unchanging) love.
This phrase clarifies the mount that I'm praising. There are a couple other variations that I've heard, but the differences are slight. Changing "God's" to "Thy" would only change the person to whom the song is being sung, though both are good. It is necessary for Christians to not only address God directly, but also to affirm their worship to others.

Here I raise my Ebenezer;
I had no idea what this was supposed to mean so I Googled it. Here's the link if you would like to read the full article, which is written by Apologetics Press. I would highly suggest it. It won't take too long. :) Taken from the article:

"An Ebenezer, then, is simply a monumental stone set up to signify the great help that God granted the one raising the stone. In Robinson’s poem, it figuratively meant that the writer—and all who subsequently sing the song—acknowledge God’s bountiful blessings and help in their lives."

And this again affirms the blessings and assistance in the life of a fallen human like me. 

Hither by Thy help I've come;
This line again references the story in 1 Samuel 7. Read the by Apologetics Press for more info. But also this line and the following can be taken apart from that reference. They can be taken to remind how God guides us through all the walks of life....

And I hope, by Thy good pleasure, safely to arrive at home.
...until our travels end safe and secure with Him. This also reiterates that I am one of the ones who is saved. I really appreciate that.

Jesus sought me when a stranger,
This line not only admits that we are fallen and wandering from God, but it also reminds us of how Christ pursued us in the midst of our sin.

Wandering from the fold of God;
This line modifies what I was doing as a stranger: Being outside of the blessings of God.

He, to rescue me from danger, interposed His precious blood.
interpose: (verb) 1. place or insert between one thing and another.
                           2. intervene between parties

In taking the punishment for our sins Jesus literally shielded us all from the righteous wrath of God with His own body. He inserted Himself between us and out infinite punishment, and when God sees us, it's as though He doesn't see our failures. Instead He sees Christ's blood and righteousness, because that too is interposed. 

In taking our punishment Christ also interposes by intervening on our behalf to God the Father. Some people take this to mean that God The Father is the bad guy who is just out to get us all, but Christ disobeyed Him by being crucified. This is a bunch of liberal nonsense. There is perfect unity in the Trinity. 

O to grace how great a debtor
This is one of my favorite lines. It reminds me how much I have sinned and how really in debt I am to God's grace. 

Daily I'm constrained to be!
Not only am I greatly indebted to God's grace, but I am literally indebted every single day of my life. Therefore I should be constantly thanking and praising God for it. 

Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
This line and the next ask God to literally chain me to Him through His goodness. Not only does this line again reiterate God's goodness, but through it I request God to make it so that I can never leave Him. 

Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
What I get out of this line is that I admit that I am a wandering sinner, but I still want to be with God, and that I love Him. 

Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
I'm a wrongdoer, it's true....

Prone to leave the God I love;
...but I still love my Lord...

Here's my heart, o take and seal it,
...so I want God to make it so that we will never be apart. 

It really resinated with me when I heard this line because one of my mentors, teachers, pastors, and friends, Pastor Lotzer, had taught me that there are two meanings to the word seal. 

The first is that sealing of preservation. If you seal something in a can or a ziploc bag it's thoroughly protected from things that would make it go bad or things that would do it harm. By being asked to be sealed I ask God for protection from without and from within. 

The second meaning of the word seal is that of validation. This kind of seal is the seal that is found pressed in wax on letters, and the seal that's found on the floor of the capitol building. It's a seal that says "This comes from us: it's official. You'd better respect it." This kind of seal says exactly that from God.

Seal it for Thy courts above.
Keep me protected until I am in Your courts with you, and declare me to be Yours until then as well.

It took me a little while to figure out exactly why I like this song so much, but I narrowed it down to a few main reasons: I can really relate to songs that have archaic words and phrases, this song constantly reminds me of how much God blesses us and how good He is, it has a strong emphasis on grace (Grace is seriously the most amazing thing ever), it reminds me that I am still a sinner, but it shows that I still love God.

I'll talk about this last point for a little bit. I had been struggling theologically with one thing for a few months now. I had heard from Jamey, out youth pastor, and a few other people that "Faith without works is dead. If you don't have good works then you should inspect yourself and see if you really do have faith." Well this reasoning seemed to imply to me that I didn't have faith because I wasn't perfect. It worried me and I didn't like thinking about it.

But I was at MFUGE camp at Glorietta, NM last week and the speaker, Ben, said something that really helped: (Paraphrased) "Faith without works is dead, but this doesn't mean that if you sin you're not saved. It just means that as a whole you'll start getting better. As you move on in your life you'll gradually get better and better, closer and closer to God. Of course you're going to fall down, but as a whole you'll be improving."

This hit the nail right on the head for me. And this song admits that I fall down and fail, but by the grace of God I'm moving forward, and because of all this I can join Paul in saying "I run thus: not with uncertainty."

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