A reflection for Whitsuntide – from Andy Braunston
A powerful rendition of Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing sung, of course, to Ebeneezer by 80 or so members of Mission Council marked the first time I had encountered this beautiful hymn. Despite my rather mixed Christian background (Catholic, Anglican, and 25 years in the Metropolitan Community Church) I had never encountered this before that evening service at Swanwick. The power of the tune, coupled with the dense imagery of the words, has made it one of my firm favourites – so much so I had it at my induction as a URC minister in July 2017.
Interestingly, Robert Robinson was also something of a Christian pilgrim – born and Anglican, converted by George Whitfield’s preaching, became involved with Calvinistic Methodists, then an Independent chapel until, finally, he was ordained as a Baptist minister. In later life he retired to Birmingham and his friendship with J P Priestley has led some to wonder if he became a Unitarian.
The second line Tune my heart to sing Thy grace seems, to me, to be evocative of the idea in the Medieval Church of the constant worship of God through song and has always struck me as being particularly powerful as has the third stanza which links to Robinson’s experience of being found by our Lord: Jesus sought me when a stranger, wandering from the fold of God.
We live in an age where hymnody crosses the Christian divides – congregations use (often unwittingly) hymnbooks, or projected hymns, from a variety of traditions yet it is the experience of being found by Jesus so that our hearts are in tune with his is the experience that unites us despite differences in theology, background and musical tastes.