Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Old-Fashioned Hymn: There Is A Fountain

It's been a while since I've shared a hymn with ya'll and this hymn that I want to talk about today is one that I've sung several times at Bible studies over the past few weeks. As we've sung it the wording of the last few verses were really impressed on my mind as containing such amazing truth but also sounding very poetical. When I was looking up the history of the hymn today I discovered that the writer who penned the words was none other than British poet William Cowper (pronounced like Cooper) - so the poetical wording makes perfect sense!

Check out the music videos below so you can listen while you read! :)

There Is A Fountain

1. There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Immanuel's veins;
And sinners, plunged beneath that flood, Lose all their guilty stains:
Lose all their guilty stains, lose all their guilty stains;
And sinners, plunged beneath that flood, lose all their guilty stains.

2. The dying thief rejoiced to see that fountain in his day;
And there may I, though vile as he, wash all my sins away:
Wash all my sins away, wash all my sins away;
And there may I, though vile as he, wash all my sins away.

3. Dear dying Lamb, Thy precious blood shall never loose its pow'r,
Till all the ransomed Church of God be saved, to sin no more:
Be saved, to sin no more, be saved, to sin no more;
Till all the ransomed church of God be saved, to sin no more.

4. E'er since by faith I saw the stream Thy flowing wounds supply,
Redeeming love has been my theme, and shall be till I die:
And shall be till I die, and shall be till I die;
Redeeming love has been my theme, and shall be till I die.

5. When this poor lisping, stamm'ring tongue, lies silent in the grave,
Then in a nobler, sweeter song I'll sing Thy pow'r to save:
I'll sing Thy pow'r to save, I'll sing Thy pow'r to save;
Then in a nobler, sweeter song I'll sing Thy pow'r to save.

Words: William Cowper, circa 1772
Music: Cleans­ing Fount­ain, 19th Cen­tu­ry Amer­i­can camp meet­ing tune (there are several other tunes used, see here for others)

William Cowper (1731–1800)
Portrait of Cowper by Lemuel Francis Abbott
Hymn's History: Many of the best hymns were penned under trying circumstances in the author's life. There is a Fountain is no exception. 
"One of England’s most popular 18th century poets, William Cowper suffered for most of his adult life with paralyzing depression and insanity. He was saved during a stint in a mental asylum, where his caretaker was a strong Christian. Even following his conversion, Cowper suffered from a recurring nightmare that God had rejected him and attempted suicide several times. One bright spot in his life was his 30-year friendship with John Newton, who served as Cowper’s pastor for many years." (quoted from this article)  
John Newton visited Cowper often and they would take walks and talk about at length about God and His purpose from the church. In 1796 Newton got the idea to collaborate with Cowper on a book of hymns, a plan which he hoped would help Cowper use his poetical gift while focusing on the things of God. The result was Olney Hymns, published in 1779 and used initially in Newton's rural parish and then in other Evangelical churches; six of those hymns, including Amazing Grace and There Is A Fountain, are still found in most hymnals today.
This hymn was written after on of William Cowper's serious bouts with depression and insanity in which he tried to kill himself three or four times within a twenty-four hour period. Each attempt on his own life failed whether from his hand shaking so much he couldn't take the poison, the pen knife being too blunt to punture his chest or the garter used for hanging himself breaking just in time. God definitely had His hand on William Cowper that day! (read more about the incident here.) 
After the episode Cowper walked the streets feeling terribly guilty and asking for God's forgiveness and these words came to him. 'Cowper was acutely aware of his unworthiness and “vile” nature. Yet he clung to the truth that Christ’s blood was powerful to cleanse him — and, indeed, all sinners — of all “guilty stains.” ' (quoted from this article)

Music Videos: 

There Is A Fountain Filled With Blood (Instrumental) - accompanied by photos and verses

There Is A Fountain - Two verses performed by The London Philharmonic Choir & London's National Philharmonic Orchestra.

There is a Fountain - Performed by Ernie Smith in his original arrangement on a 1983 Ramirez classical guitar.

My favorite words come from the last two verses: "Redeeming love has been my theme and shall be till I die" and "Then in a nobler, sweeter song I'll sing Thy pow'r to save". The first quote gives the thought of singing of God's redeeming love until the very moment of death. The second gives the idea of after death the believer will be with the Lord in heaven singing "a nobler, sweeter song" to glorify God. What a wonderful thoughts to dwell on instead of the tragedy that often comes our way.

Last night at Bible study we were studying 1 Corinthians chapter 15 and these words really stood out to me as going along with the same idea of the quotes I mentioned above:
"If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive." (1 Corinthians 15:19-22)

"So when this corruptible [body] shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal [flesh] shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, 'Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?' " (1 Corinthians 15:53-55, emphasis mine)

"But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord." (1 Corinthians 15:57-58)

This life is temporary and for those who have believed in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior there is hope beyond the gave. Praise the Lord!

Have you sung There Is A Fountain before? Do you have a favorite verse of the song?

What have you been studying in God's Word lately?


Laura said...

Hello Miss Laurie,

Thanks for this lovely post! That hymn is a favourite of mine and it was wonderful to read some of the history of it!

Thanks again!

God bless,

Delvalina said...

Thank you for sharing the beautiful hymn! I am listening this song :) such a powerful story behind this song.

Well, and thank you for being crazy with me on pinterest.

Blessing and love,


AJ said...

Great post! I've never heard of that hymn...lovely! Very cool to learn the history of the hymn as well.

I don't belong to a Bible study group or church right now, but I subscribe to the Daily Devotionals.

*Happy November 1st!*

Lady Lukrecja said...

Beautiful music! said...

I can play this song on the piano! Well, the right hand part. My favorite verse is probably the "Ever since by faith" one. I only actually know that one and the first one by heart.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this wonderful posting. This is one of my absolute favorite hymns, although I never know the history till now. God's providential hand was definitely on Mr. Cowper's life and we are still being blessed somany ggenerations later.

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