John Fawcett and his wife, Mary, are a perfect personification of selflessness. The couple had been living a simple life with the townspeople of Wainsgate. The village, according to hymnologist Albert Bailey, was populated with “a straggling group of houses on the top of a barren hill.” He went on to describe the dwellers in that place. Most of them are farmers and shepherds, poor, and uneducated. “The Established Church had never touched them; only the humble Baptists had sent an itinerant preacher there and he had made a good beginning,” Bailey wrote.
That preacher happened to be John Fawcett. Upon his ordination in 1765, he and his wife moved to Wainsgate and lived with the people there. Since most of them were underprivileged, the couple had to deal with mere donations of wool and potatoes from the parishioners. Also, John’s salary as a clergyman is not that much. Thus, he found it quite hard to make ends meet when he and his wife began having children. Despite their socio-economic status, the couple had happily embraced their lives with the people at Wainsgate. The Fawcetts were able to grow their congregation by engaging families house-to-house. Eventually, John and Mary had established a strong connection with the villagers and vice-versa.
One day, John received a call from a prestigious parish in London offering him an opportunity to serve there. Working in Carter’s Lane Baptist Church, which was equipped with more financial resources, would certainly alleviate John’s financial struggles. However, they’d put aside their family needs and gave priority to the needs of their congregation. Hence, in the end, the couple chose not to accept the offer and stayed at Wainsgate – much to the delight of the people.
It has been the practice of many ministers to write a hymn about the day’s theme. Moreover, the congregation has to sing the song at the end of the sermon. When John Fawcett delivered his supposed last sermon at Wainsgate prior to departure to London, that’s when he wrote the hymn “Blest Be the Tie that Binds.” Though the hymn, he expressed his and wife Mary’s thoughts to the deprived people they chose to serve and live with. After sharing a sermon from the book of Luke,
“A man’s life consists not in the abundance of the things he possesses.” (12:15),
he concluded his talk with a new song he wrote. “Blest Be the Tie that Binds” emphasizes the importance of being united in Christ in spite of life struggles.
Let’s listen to the inspiring song below.
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