Blest be the Tie that Binds
This Sunday, we will be singing the hymn “Blest be the Tie that Binds.” The following is an introduction that will be read prior to our singing.
An orphan at the age of twelve, John Fawcett became apprenticed to a tailor and was largely self-educated. He was affected by the preaching of George Whitefield at the age of sixteen and began preaching soon thereafter. In 1765 Fawcett was called to serve a small, poor, country church in Wainsgate, Yorkshire (England). Seven years later he received a call from the large and influential Carter’s Lane Church in London, England. Fawcett accepted the call and preached his farewell sermon.
Seated on packed cases, Fawcett and his wife could not restrain their tears. They and the church members were remembering the times when he had stood with a family mourning the death of a loved one, or with a young husband as he anxiously awaited the arrival of his firstborn. Perhaps still fresh in their minds were the times when Pastor John had taken his Bible and, quietly and earnestly, shown the way of salvation to a lost one; or perhaps the times when he had preached in the little church and the Holy Spirit had visited them in a special way. None of these memories could be brushed from their minds, nor did they want them to be.
Finally, Mrs. Fawcett tearfully told her husband, “I cannot bear to leave. How can we go?” He confessed that he had the same feelings. Abruptly, he ordered the men to unload the wagons. It is this experience that became the basis for the hymn “Blest be the Tie that Binds.”
Written in 1772, Fawcett titled this hymn “Brotherly Love.” It is essentially about the communion of saints, bound together in love (st. 1), united in worship (st. 2), sharing each other’s burdens (st. 3), and encouraging each other with the hope of eternal life in glory, where we will be reunited with departed friends and freed “from sorrow, toil, and pain and sin” (st. 4-6).
Fawcett wrote most of his hymns to be sung by his congregation at the conclusion of the sermon. He frequently apologized to “persons of an elevated genius” for his “plain verses” but expressed the hope that they would edify “humble Christians.”
Despite his growing reputation as an outstanding evangelical preacher, scholar, and writer, it is estimated that Fawcett’s salary never rose above the equivalent of $200 a year. Yet out of genuine Christian love for his people, Fawcett stayed and ministered to their needs for 54 years.
“Blest be the Tie that Binds” draws from Acts 4:32, Gal. 3:28 and Gal. 6:2.
Information gathered from:
- Christianity Today International/Today’s Christian magazine. March/April 2008, Vol. 46, No. 2, Page 11
- Lindsay Terry’s book, The Sacrifice of Praise: Stories Behind the Greatest Praise and Worship Songs of All Time (Integrity).