Tuesday, January 16, 2024

"O to grace how great a debtor..."

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.

Here I raise mine Ebenezer; hither by Thy help I’m come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure, safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger, wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger, interposed His precious blood.

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.
On the writer of the hymn:
Born at Swaffham in Norfolk, the son of poor parents, apprenticed as a boy to a London hairdresser, and a somewhat dissolute youth — such was the unpromising beginning to the life of Robert Robinson, the author of this hymn. But then the grace of God intervened. At the age of seventeen he came under the influence of George Whitefield, was converted, and dedicated himself to Christ's service. Six years later (1758) when in charge of a Methodist chapel in Mildenhall, Suffolk, he wrote this hymn, a hymn of providence and grace, as it has well been called.

Clearly it reflects something of the author's own spiritual history and is an outpouring of praise for what God had done for him:
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
    Wandering from the fold of God ...

And so he cries:
Oh, to grace how great a debtor
   Daily I'm constrained to be!
Let thy grace, Lord, like a fetter,
   Bind my wandering heart to thee.

Frank Colquhoun, A Hymn Companion, 1985.

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