Tune My Heart to Sing Thy Grace

 

 

“Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” is a hymn written by Robert Robinson in 1757. As a young man, Robinson had been apprenticed to be a barber and hairdresser though he was often found reading instead. One day he went with some friends to hear George Whitefield, mostly to mock and harass the famous preacher. Whitefield’s words of “O generation of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? ” (Matthew 3:7) stayed with Robinson for three years until he finally gave his life to Christ. He wrote the hymn “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” two years later at the age of 22.

Robinson became a preacher and, though he wrote many theological and historical works, he only wrote two hymns. Studying the words of his more famous hymn has impressed me in several ways. For one, Robinson did not die famous or well-known and was never considered a great song writer or musician, yet, “Come Thou Fount” is still being sung over 260 years later and not just because it has been stuck in a hymn book. Every line has a profound meaning and can, not only be sung, but used as prayers.

Tune my heart:  “Tune my heart to sing thy praise.” My heart needs to be tuned daily, hourly even, to sing His praise as it constantly goes out of tune with and toward Him, reaching for the world or being led by my flesh, causing a discordant sound in my soul.

Here I raise my Ebenezer: For a man who had been a Christian such a short time, I marvel at his usage of the passage in 1 Samuel 7:12. The prophet Samuel raised a stone, named it Ebenezer (meaning “stone of help”) as a monument saying, “Thus far the LORD (Yahweh) has helped us” to remind the Israelites of how God had helped them thus far and would continue to help them as long as they kept His covenant. I would think it would take someone well-versed in the Scriptures to even know of this passage much less to be able to use it in a song.

Prone to Wander:  Are you prone to wander? I fear I am, and it is this verse I have sung in my heart many times over the years. When I can recognize my wandering heart for what it is and how great a debtor I am to His grace (daily!), then, I, too can pray for God to bind my heart with His grace and keep me close to His side.

Come, my Lord: This final verse is unfamiliar to me. Has it been left out of certain hymnals? Or have I just overlooked it in my love for the other verses? Whichever, the final verse reminds us that one day we will see Him face to face and sing His praises forever.

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The Good News We Almost Forgot by Kevin DeYoung

The Good News We Almost Forgot is about a 16th century catechism. The Heidelberg Catechism was published in 1563 and was basically a commentary on three things: the Apostles’ Creed, the Ten Commandments, and the Lord’s Prayer.

The faith I was raised in did not use catechisms and I only learned of the Apostles’ Creed when I was in college. Nevertheless, being interested in history and specifically the history of my faith, I was curious to learn more about this book.

To begin with, what in the world is the Heidelberg Catechism? The Heidelberg Catechism was ordered by Elector Frederick III of the Palatinate, a princely state of the Holy Roman Empire (now a part of Germany) for his territory. A team of theological professors & ministers were brought together to write the catechism, though the prime author was Zacharias Ursinus. Ursinus, a professor at the University of Heidelberg University was a firm Protestant with Calvinist leanings. The catechism was designed to serve three purposes: a tool for teaching children, a guide for preachers, and as a form for confessional unity among the Protestant factions in the Palatinate. Translated into Latin, Dutch, French, & English, the catechism was widely circulated and became the most loved catechism of the Reformation.

So, what could that possibly mean for us today? DeYoung spent a year studying the catechism and writing weekly devotions from it for his church. He takes the straight forward questions and answers of the catechism and gives us some further understanding of the truths laid out in the catechism, making it a type of devotional within a devotional.

I’m not sure exactly how long I spent reading it, but probably close to a year as it was not something I just read straight through. I picked it up at different times and read it as a devotional. In spite of being very familiar with the topics, I was continually blessed and challenged by the reading. To quote DeYoung, “the Heidelberg Catechism has been good for me.”

How it was good is that it gave me a fresh look at the gospel, what I believe & why, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Ten Commandments. All these are elements of our faith which can never be studied enough, but must also never be taken in a casual light. Again, quoting DeYoung in his introduction, “My own personal assessment of my pastoral ministry is that over the past two or three years the gospel has become much more central. Not that I didn’t know the gospel or didn’t believe or preach the gospel before. But recently, I have taken more delight in the gospel, stayed more focused on the gospel, and made the gospel more explicit in my ministry. The Heidelberg Catechism is partly to thank for this renewed passion.”

Renewed passion for the gospel is the best endorsement I can give for any book.