April 18

Genesis of the Hymn, “Blest Be the Tie that Binds”

Many of the ‘old-time’ hymns aren’t sung much anymore, but they still hold a fondness in our hearts.  Going to church as a child, I remember this hymn well being sung at the end of the service.  I did not grasp the meaning of its words, and it may be that neither did many adults.  Often times, only the first stanza of the hymn was sung. But in this song’s case, you need to hear all of it in order to understand its meaning and the author’s heart when he wrote it.  May the author’s story bring a new light to this song and an understanding of the love that ties Christian hearts together.

The story that must be told

John Fawcett was born into a poor family in Yorkshire, England, and was orphaned at age 12. To survive, he accepted a lengthy apprenticeship to a tailor. Then, while still in his teens, he heard the great George Whitfield preach and become a Christian.

While serving his apprenticeship, Fawcett became active in a Baptist church and was often asked to speak. Then at age 25 (and newly married), he was invited to serve as pastor of a small church at Wainsgate. The poor people of that little village were able to pay very little, and much of Fawcett’s pay came as potatoes and other produce. Once his wife, Mary, began having children, they found it difficult to survive.

Then Fawcett learned that the pastor of a large Baptist church in London was retiring, and he let the church know that he would be interested in serving them. They called him to be their pastor at a much larger salary, so John and Mary packed their household and prepared to move. But then, as the story is told, Mary told John that she didn’t think that she could leave these people whom they had both learned to love — and John allowed that he shared her sentiment — so the two of them unpacked the wagon and let the London church know that they wouldn’t be coming.

A hymn of fellowship

Then Fawcett, who wrote a number of hymns during his lifetime, wrote this hymn, “Blest Be the Tie That Binds,” to convey his sentiments and those of his wife to the poor people among whom they had chosen to live. Fawcett served that little church for the rest of his life — 54 years in all.

Today, remember that you are part of the Body of Christ. Worship together. Pray together. Share each other’s burdens. Together, seek first God’s Kingdom.

How about a short pause for a quick meditation as you listen to the Sisters’ rendition of Blest Be the Tie That Binds

Blest be the tie that binds

Our hearts in Christian love;

The fellowship of kindred minds

Is like to that above.

Before our Father’s throne

We pour our ardent prayers;

Our fears, our hopes, our aims are one

Our comforts and our cares.


Blest be the tie, Hymns, John Fawcett, sisters

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