Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Jeshanah. He named it Ebenezer, explaining, “The Lord helped us to this very point.” (1 Samuel 7:12, Common English Bible)
Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing
1. 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.
2. Sorrowing I shall be in spirit, Till released from flesh and sin,
Yet from what I do inherit, Here Thy praises I’ll begin;
Here I raise my Ebenezer; Here by Thy great help I’ve come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure, Safely to arrive at home.
3. Jesus sought me when a stranger, Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger, Interposed His precious blood;
How His kindness yet pursues me Mortal tongue can never tell,
Clothed in flesh, till death shall lose me I cannot proclaim it well.
4. 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.
5. 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.
Though there was a lot I didn’t know about this hymn, it has been one of my favorites for many years. There is a particular line in the third verse in most of our hymnals (fourth verse above) that really speaks to me but more on that in a minute.
Though I had sung this hymn many times in my life, I never really knew what an Ebenezer was. I didn’t even know it was based on our verse for today, 1 Samuel 7:12. It was a rock, a monument if you will. English translations of Scripture translate the stone as “Ebenezer” meaning, “Stone of help.” Samuel, in placing the stone says, “The Lord has helped us to this point.”
Isn’t that true for all of us? In what John Wesley would call Prevenient Grace, grace that comes to us before we ever know there is a God, the grace of God calling us and wooing us into a relationship. It is the beginning of a life in grace, a life that has helped us to get to the very point where we now live.
Another thing I didn’t know for most of the time I have sung this hymn is in Robert Robinson’s original version (penned when he was 22 in 1757) there were five verses to the hymn instead of the three in the United Methodist and Cokesbury hymnals as well as most other modern hymnals. Truth to tell, I didn’t know about these additional verses until I started researching for today’s blog post. Also of note, when we read through the original version of the hymn (above), after the first verse, they all read differently than the versions we are familiar with today.
Still, my favorite line of this great hymn comes in the last verse (actually verse 4 in the original version above), “Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love;” how easy it is for me to wander away from God. I do it each time I sin. I wander from God when I do not put in the effort to maintain our relationship. I wander from God in so many ways in my life.
That is the bad news. The good news comes in the very last line, “Here’s my heart, O take and seal it, Seal it for Thy courts above.” And that God will do. Holding us close as we live out life in this world in preparation for life in the Kingdom to come.
Have a blessed Lord’s Day.
Grace and Peace,
Copyright 2016, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved