Keeping the Hymns Close By

Come, Thou Fount

Author – Robert Robinson, 1735 – 1790
Composer – John Wyeth, 1770 – 1858
The hymn was written in 1758

O Lord, Thou art my God; I will exalt Thee, I will praise Thy name; for Thou hast done wonderful things; Thy counsels of old are faithfulness and truth. Isaiah 25:1

Robert Robinson was born of lowly parents in Swaffham, Norfolk, England, on September 27, 1735. His father died when Robert was eight, and at the age of fourteen he was sent by his mother to London to work as a barber’s apprentice. What he learned instead was drinking and gang-life. At the age of seventeen he attended a meeting where George Whitefield was speaking about “The Wrath To Come”. Whitefield’s strong evangelistic preaching impressed young Robinson and Whitefield’s words haunted him for nearly three years until December 10, 1755, when he accepted Christ as his Savior. Robert felt called to preach and soon entered the ministry. At age 23, while serving a church in Norfolk, England he wrote this hymn for his sermon.

This hymn text contains an interesting expression in the second stanza, “Here I raise mine Ebenezer–Hither by Thy help; I’m come.” This language is taken from I Samuel 7:12, where Ebenezer (stone of help) is a symbol of God’s faithfulness. The prophet Samuel raises a stone as a monument, saying “Hitherto hath the Lord helped us” (KJV).An expression in the third verse, “Prone to wander–Lord I feel it–Prone to leave the God I love,” is thought to be autobiographical of his life.

He left Norfolk and moved to Cambridge, England where he became known as an able theologian through his writing of many theological works as well as several hymns.

Robinson continued working for the Lord until 1790, when he was invited to Birmingham, England to preach. There on the morning of June 8, he was found dead at age 54, having passed away quietly during the night.

The tune, “Nettleton,” was named for Asahel Nettleton, noted American evangelist of the early eighteenth century. Its composer, John Wyeth, born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, was a printer and lay musician. This hymn first appeared in his hymnal, published in 1813.

Taken from 101 Hymn Stories Copyright © 1982, 2012 by Kenneth W. Osbeck. Published by Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, MI. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Taken from Then Sings My Soul by Robert J. Morgan Copyright © 2003 Robert J. Morgan. Used by permission of Thomas Nelson