Come, Thou Feet of Restless Youth
Back and forth. Seen and not seen, peeking and hiding.
On Sunday morning, my shiny black patent-leather shoes popped from beneath the wooden pew where I sat with my parents in our very proper church, and then they disappeared. My feet didn’t yet touch the floor, but boy, could they swing those shiny shoes. Back and forth. Peeking, hiding.
Unless we were singing.
Then I’d stand next to Mother in those stiff “good” shoes, propping my own hymnal on the back of the pew ahead of us, pretending to read the words.
In fact, church may be the place I first learned to connect letters and sounds and phrases, for music has a way of winding the words around your heart strings and tuning them in with your brain.
I learned the melodies and verses to many old hymns in our traditional church, and they’ve stayed with me over the years that have swept me into the musical freedom of contemporary worship. As a pianist/keyboardist on my church’s worship team, I love and play it all, both the old and the new.
But one song in particular lodged deep inside my childhood experience with its lilting notes that seemed to dance like a butterfly on a clear summer day:
“Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing”
It was the melody that embedded in my young heart, tugging the lyrics along with it. Only later did those words take on meaning. Perhaps one has to experience the floods and fires of life and trudge through the mud and ash before one really understands the cleansing power and need of the Fount.
According to several hymnals, the tune is a Traditional American Melody from John Wyeth’s Repository of Sacred Music, Part Second, 1813. However, Hymnary.org credits the melody for “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing” as the tune “Nettleton,” penned by “Anonymous.” Footnotes mention Asahel Nettleton (1783-1844) as the possible originator of the tune.
Asahel Nettleton, by Samuel Lovett Waldo (1783-1861) & William Jewett (1789-1874)
[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
|Robert Robinson, by Anonymous [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons|
Stanzas 1 – 2 of the song are credited to English clergyman Robert Robinson in 1758 and stanza 3 to Martin Madan in 1760. Several variations of the stanzas exist, as well as a fourth and fifth verse, and the song rests today in the public domain.
It also rests in the corners of my memory, and thus wended its way onto the pages of my recent release, An Unexpected Redemption.
Redemption is the theme of “Come, Thou Fount,” and so it naturally flowed from my mind, through my fingers, and into the heart of Elizabeth (Betsy Parker) Beaumont. In the story, she credits her mother with teaching her the song, and perhaps I am that mother since I gave birth to the fictional Betsy and her impulsive nature.
Certain phrases thread through her struggle, such as,
“Streams of mercy, never ceasing,”
“Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it, Mount of Thy redeeming love.”
“Hither by Thy help I’m come; And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.”
“Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it.”
One can certainly hope.
My most favorite rendition of this song is by the very modern David Crowder band that presents it with rich Old World flavor. It can be found here. Bypass the quick ad and listen with your eyes closed.
Let your heart be lifted.
And then let me know if there is an old hymn that has made its way across the years and into the corners of your memory.
Wife and mother of professional rodeo bullfighters, Davalynn Spencer writes cowboy romance. She is an ECPA and Publisher's Weekly bestselling author and winner of the Will Rogers Gold Medallion for Inspirational Western Fiction. And she’s fairly certain her previous career as a rodeo journalist and crime-beat reporter prepared her for life in Colorado, wrangling Blue the Cowdog and mouse detectors Annie and Oakley. Connect with her at http://davalynnspencer.com/
Shattered by her father’s fatal choice, naïve Betsy Parker elopes with a faithless beau who abandons her for the Dakota gold fields. After taking a job as a type-writer for a prestigious Denver law firm, she rebuffs the advances of a senior partner who fires her and sullies her character. In a desperate bid to redeem her reputation and independence, she returns home to face her toughest critics—the people she grew up with, a rugged lawman who threatens to steal her heart, and the one person unwilling to forgive her.