So, it’s Advent.
In light of the season I thought I’d post a few of my favourite carols/hymns from this time of year. I want to start with my favourite, Come Thou Fount Of Every Blessing. This hymn was written in 1757 by a young English pastor and hymnist named Robert Robinson, at the age of only 22 (geez, what was I doing at 22?!).
See the video below, a live rendition by Sufjan Stevens followed by the lyrics (so you can follow along while you watch, duh).
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.
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.
O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let that grace now 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.
I’m not sure why exactly this is my favourite hymn for the season. I think though, it’s because it has so much to do with God and so little to do with us (unlike much of what passes for praise/worship music these days). We call that grace.
Grace isn’t easy though. It’s very difficult, I think because it means admitting that there is absolutely nothing we can do to merit or deserve anything from the one true God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. But we so desperately like to think there is something we can do. Some action or word that can give us some sort of meritorious standing before God (or that we’ve already earned it simply by being good folks). To this grace says, ‘no’.
The fact that our hearts and minds are turned inwards and downwards (as T.F. Torrance might put it) by sin only makes this matter all the more difficult and our need for grace all the more pressing. In this hymn, we begin with the words, “Tune my heart to sing Thy grace.” Then again, “Teach me some melodious sonnet.” What? You mean my heart cannot “sing Thy grace,” all by itself? You mean I don’t already know the words to this “melodious sonnet”? Not an easy pill to swallow, for most. No, indeed, our hearts need to be tuned. We need to be taught how to sing. And just how are our hearts tuned? How do we learn the words? I think, by allowing the unceasing streams of mercy to flood our hearts and minds so that “songs of loudest praise” are called forth.
Oh what grace, that tunes our hearts and teaches us to sing. Indeed, may we recognize and daily confess our debt to such grace so that our wandering hearts may be bound to Christ Jesus our Lord.