Blessed Be The Tie that Binds
Since our monthly newsletter is called “The Tie That Binds”, I thought it would be interesting and uplifting to learn the story behind the song that relates to this title.
Behind this familiar historic Christian song is an inspiring account of the author, John Fawcett. According to the story, John Fawcett was born in a poor family in Yorkshire, England, and became an orphan at age 12. He served as an apprentice to a tailor. During his teens he heard the preaching of renowned evangelist George Whitfield and became a Christian. While he served his apprenticeship he became active in a Baptist church and was often asked to preach.
Then at age 25, having recently married, Fawcett was invited to serve as pastor of a small Baptist church at Wainsgate, England in 1765. The people were poor and could pay very little and much of his pay came with fresh garden produce. As John and Mary Fawcett began having children it became increasingly difficult for the family to manage financially. Meanwhile a large Baptist church in London was searching for a new pastor as theirs was retiring. They extended a call to Fawcett at a much larger salary than he had been receiving and he accepted. John and Mary packed up their belongings with a cart loaded and were about to leave for London.
One writer records that as they were about to leave Mary told her husband: ”I can’t stand it, John! I know not how to go.” And John said to the crowd “We’ve changed our minds! We are going to stay!“ They decided that they could not leave these people whom they had learned to love and serve. So they unpacked the wagon and let the London church know that they would not be coming.
The following Sunday, after their decision to remain at Wainsgate, John Fawcett preached from Luke 12:15 “A man’s life consists not in the abundance of the things he possesses.” He closed his sermon by reading his new song, “Blest Be The Tie That Binds”
Fawcett remained with that little church for the rest of his life, 54 years in all. Their salary was estimated to be no more than $200 per year. Fawcett wrote a number of hymns during his lifetime, including “Blest Be The Tie”, illustrating their love for the poor people among whom they had chosen to serve. (Sources: writings by Richard Neil Donovan and Lisa Suppi)
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.
We share our mutual woes,
Our mutual burdens bear;
And often for each other flows
The sympathizing tear.
When we asunder part,
It gives us inward pain;
But we shall still be joined in heart,
And hope to meet again.
At Holland Christian Homes we are a community with a wide diversity of people. Our tastes, preferences, likes and dislikes will vary, but we are a community. The lyrics of this song remind us that it is love that binds people together. We pray for each other and share the burdens. God is love and he wants his people to be loving. We may disagree and there are some folk we may prefer to avoid. But if we are united by Christ’s love, we must seek to preserve an atmosphere of good will, tolerance and Christian charity.
As we live in community let us consider the guidelines the Apostle Paul gives in his epistle to the Romans, chapter 12 for getting along with others. Here a few examples:
- Love must be sincere
- Cling to what is good
- Honor one another above yourselves
- Serve the Lord
- Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer
- Live in harmony with one another.
- Do not repay anyone evil for evil.
- If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
Paul reminds us that as a Christian community “in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others” (Romans 12:5). There may be some among us who have not chosen to follow Christ. We invite them to make that commitment and find strength in the Lord and the fellowship we share.
By Pastor Keith Lohnes