Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Come Thou Fount

I love much of the hymn "Come Thou Fount".  I say "most" because, to be honest, it gets a little hard for me to sing the traditional words in the third verse.  This is how they read.

O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I'm constrained to be!
Let they 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.

My issue with these lyrics is simple; they aren't Biblical.  I know, everyone wants to go back to Romans 7 at this point, when Paul is admitting his struggles with sins.  However, they are forgetting not only the rest of Romans in this case, and particularly chapter 8, but also the rest of the New Testament.

Does God really desire His children, who are called to love Him with all their hearts, minds, souls and strength, to be "prone to wander"?  Are the ones who are led by the Holy Spirit really "prone to leave the God I love"?  I've never been prone to wander away from anyone else I loved, so why would this apply to God?

So what am I denying here?  Am I denying my humanity, and the question of failure?  Of course not.  I do fail, and I'm certain that I'll make plenty of mistakes throughout my life.  However, this is really a question of sin and intent.  Scripture identifies sin as something I do out of desire, not something I do because I "made a mistake".  Wesley defined sin as "A willful transgression to a known law of God".  Is this really what I'm doing?

So I will continue to cry out to the fount of all blessing, raising my Ebeneezer, and cling to the grace of God, which I'm indebted to far more than I can ever pay.  But at my church we sing the following lyrics to the third verse, found in the Nazarene hymnal.

Oh, to grace how great a debtor 
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let that grace, now like a fetter, 
Bind my yielded heart to Thee.
Let me know Thee in Thy fullness; 
Guide me by Thy mighty hand,
Till, transformed, in Thine own image 
In Thy presence I shall stand.

My heart is yielded, not wandering.  I do not wander, as long as I crave to know God in His fullness.  I do not leave the God of love when I am led by His mighty hand.  I will have to be excused for believing in the power and love of God, which is too great to leave me wandering.  


Anonymous said...

I hadn't ever thought of it that way. Thanks for enlightening me.

Though even Wesley admitted the heart can be tempted after being sanctified wholly, and can even backslide, the oft-deleted last verse of "Come Thou Fount" seems rather defeatist:

O that day when freed from sinning,
I shall see Thy lovely face;
Clothed then 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.

gakesmith said...

I remember the first time I sang "Come Thous Fount" in a non-Nazarene church from a non-Nazarene hymnal. I was stunned! This hymn was speaking what I felt in my heart and what I saw in the Christians around me – even the sanctified nazarenes. It was very liberating and made me thankful for God's continuing grace to sing the original and, I believe, honest and biblical lyrics.