In Hymns

come thou fount in book

A long time ago, the girls and I would sit on the couch together and learn hymns. Somewhere along the line we stopped. Not sure why.

Recently, Sara told me she misses those times.

So this Sunday, I began a revival of the practice.

It fits very nicely with my focus for this year: music. And we are going to learn about the background of the hymns too.

We began yesterday with Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing. Sonia, my Littlest, sweetly researched the writer's life. We learned that Robert Robinson began as a barber; became a minister in Cambridge, England; wrote this hymn to go along with a sermon; and later fell into spiritual struggle and sorrow.

One day, many years after composing the hymn, Robinson met a woman in a carriage, who was humming his song. She asked how he liked the hymn. He began weeping and said, "I would give a thousand worlds, if I had them, to enjoy the feelings I had then."

Sonia also introduced us to John Wyeth (born in Cambridge, Mass), who added Robinson's hymn to a collection called the Repository of Sacred Music (which sold about 150,00 copies!). I couldn't help thinking how Robinson's words and music still made (and continue to make) an impact despite his difficulties. Maybe we are all like that, in our way.

The girls and I also looked up fountain in the Dictionary of Biblical Imagery. We read all the scriptures referenced and marveled about how Jesus is a "fount" because he is Wisdom itself (also called a "fountain" in Proverbs).

Our time together was so rich. Sonia even looked up the etymology of the word "fount," and it made me smile to know that it comes from the French verb "fondre," which means "to melt."

After all, I did my own share of melting as we sat together, learning, reading, and singing.

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In the Beginning, Music

I thought perhaps the world had started in silence.

Then I remembered Genesis. Hadn't there been a wind?

There are different ways to translate this stream of air that played across formless void and darkness. "A wind from God swept over the face of the waters." Or, "In the beginning God created mighty wind."

Wind, by itself, doesn't make a lot of sound. It needs something to push against, to lift and turn, to ruffle and rustle. So I'm not sure what the first sounds might have been like. If it was a mighty wind, perhaps there may have been a rushing, a roaring, as it swept across the waters or pushed liquid into certain boundaries.

When did the world come to understand such sounds in a way that felt more "musical"? Who first hummed along, added a drum to the rushing of wind? Perceived the tapping of rain as a rhythm?

I don't know.

But this morning I am thankful to God for the gift of sound, and a voice to echo what He began.

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