Thursday, November 16, 2006

Blest be the tie that binds

"This hymn was written by Rev. John Fawcett, D.D., an English Baptist, who was born at Lidget Green, in Yorkshire, January 6th (O. S., i.e.17th, as we reckon), 1739, and who died July 25th, 1817, aged seventy-seven, having spent nearly sixty years in the ministry. In 1782 he published a small volume of hymns. It was in 1772, after a few years spent in pastoral work, that he was called to London to succeed the Rev. Dr. Gill. His farewell sermon had been preached near Moinsgate, in Yorkshire; six or seven wagons stood loaded with his furniture and books, and all was ready for his departure; but his loving people were not ready. They gathered about him, and 'men, women, and children clung around him and his family in perfect agony of soul.' Finally, overwhelmed with the sorrow of these they were leaving, Dr. Fawcett and his wife sat down on one of the packing-cases, and wept bitterly. Looking up, Mrs. Fawcett said: 'Oh, John, John, I cannot bear this! I know not how to go!' 'Nor I either,' said the good man; 'nor will we go. Unload the wagons, and put everything in the place where it was before.' This determination was hailed with tears of joy by those around, and a letter was at once sent to London, explaining the case. Dr. Fawcett then resolutely returned to his work on a salary of something less than two hundred dollars a year, and this hymn is said to have been written to commemorate the event." -- From English Hymns: Their Authors and History by Samuel Willoughby Duffield. Published by Funk & Wagnalls in 1886

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