Draw Closer To the Every Grace
The “Come You Fount of Every Grace" is a Christian song of praise composed by the eighteenth (18th) century pastor or minister and hymnodist Robert Robinson. Robert Robinson composed the words at age 22 in the year 1757.
In the United States, the song of praise is commonly set to an American folk song known as "Nettleton", written by printer John Wyeth, or possibly by Asahel Nettleton. In the United Kingdom, the song of praise is also often set to the tune "Normandy" by C Bost. The "Nettleton" tune is used greatly in partial or full quotation by the American composer Charles Ives. A shape note tune called "Warrenton" also has been sung with a chorus being in 4/4 time or 2/2 cut time; to fit the text to this tune, the second half of each verse is excluded and replaced with a refrain of "I am bound for the kingdom, will you come to glory with me? Or Hallelujah, praise the Lord!"
The lyrics, which abide on the theme of holy grace, are based on 1 Samuel 7:12, in which the prophet Samuel lifts a stone as a monument, saying, "Hitherto hath the Lord supported us" (KJV). The English transcription of the name Samuel gives to the stone is Ebenezer that means Stone of Help. The uncommon word Ebenezer frequently occurs in songbook presentations of the lyrics (verse 2).
Several edited versions appear in songbooks, frequently changing phrases or replacing the reference to Ebenezer. The version in Nazarene songbooks and those of the Holiness movement replaces "wandering" with "yielded," and "prone to wander" with "let me know Thee in Thy fullness." Several choirs, which include the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, sing it in a grouping by Mack Wilberg. It splits verse 2 into two parts and the last half of verse 3 is added to every part to form two (2) verses. A version titled "O You Fount of Every Grace" and attributed to Robert Robinson is created in various shape-note songbooks of the American South. The tune is accredited to A. Nettleton, while some phrases are changed.
Robert Robinson was born on September 27, 1735. He passed away on June 9, 1790. He was an English Dissenter, inspiring Baptist and scholar who made a lifelong study of antiquity and history of Christian Baptism. He was also author of the songs of praise "Come You Fount of Every Grace" and "Mighty God, while angels bless Thee", the former of which he wrote at age 22 after converting to Methodism. The latter was later set to song by Doctor John Randall, Music Teacher at Cambridge University.
Robert Robinson was born in Swaffham in Norfolk, on September 27 1735, to Michael Robinson, a customs officer, and Mary Wilkin, who had married by license at Lakenheath, Suffolk, on March 28, 1723. His father passed away when he was aged five, but his maternal grandfather, Robert Wilkin, a rich gentleman of Mildenhall, who had never restored friendly relations to his daughter’s lowly marriage, disowned his grandson, with an inheritance of 10 shillings and sixpence. Robinson’s uncle, a farmer, had funded Robinson’s attendance at a school at Scarning, close Dereham, Norfolk, under Rev. Joseph Brett. When he was 14, Robinson was transferred to London as an apprentice to Joseph Anderson, a hairdresser of Crutched Friars; though Robinson pursued a keen reader.
Robinson continued a comprehensive study of the Scriptures and early Christian authors, which soon persuaded him of the ineffectiveness of infant baptism, contrasted with the baptism of trusting adults. This caused him some hardship after he settled in Cambridge, and where he had a vast family of 12 not baptized children.
In the year 1752, Robinson was for a short time converted to Evangelical Methodism on hearing the Calvinist George Whitefield, and in the year 1758 he stayed a few months at a Calvinistic Methodist Chapel in Mildenhall. He was then invited to help William Cudworth at the Calvinistic Methodist Norwich Tabernacle, but after a matter of weeks quit to create a new Congregational Chapel in St. Paul's parish, Norwich. In the year January 1759, he transferred again, to Stone-Yard Baptist Chapel, Cambridge, where he lived the rest of his life, first as Lecturer and then, from the year 1762, as Pastor. A new chapel was constructed for him in the year 1764. His believers came to number more than a thousand. Robinson was able to purchase an eighty-acre farm by the river at Chesterton, where he kept cattle and sheep, grew barley and wheat, and dealt as a corn and coal merchant with barges using the Cam.
Robinson's companions and occasional listeners at Cambridge included the Teacher of Music, Doctor John Randall (1715–99); Thomas Fyshe Palmer (1747–1802); John Hammond; Robert Tyrwhitt; and William Frend (1757–1841).
Robinson was worried to meet Joseph Priestley in Birmingham, and traveled there at the starting of the year June 1790. On Sunday 6 June, he proclaimed two Charity Sermons, in the morning at Priestley's New Meeting Chapel, and in the afternoon at the Old Meeting Birmingham, both in aid of the Sunday Schools of the Old and New Meetings. During the time in Birmingham, Robinson stayed in Showell Green, at the house of the Unitarian sponsor William Russell (1740–1818), Priestley's companion and benefactor at Birmingham. It was here that he passed away in his sleep, in the early hours of Wednesday 9 June 1790.
Robinson was buried in the Dissenters' Burial Ground at Birmingham, the ceremony being performed by Priestley.
However, Robinson had argued against Unitarianism for most of his existence, Joshua Toulmin records in his interment sermon, quoting a letter, Robinson had written January 5 1788, that Robinson converted to Unitarianism. Robinson, however, seemed to reject the belief that he felt uncertain about the full divinity of Jesus Christ, a doctrine held by the Unitarian Church. In a sermon he proclaimed after he was accused of beginning to be a Unitarian, Robinson clearly stated that Jesus was God, and added, "Christ in Himself is an individual infinitely lovely as both God and man."