Blest Be the Tie that Binds
DESCRIPTION: "Blest be the tie that binds Our hearts in Christian love, The fellowship of kindred souls Is like to that above." Believers pray to God and "share each other's woes." They grieve to part "and hope to meet again"
AUTHOR: Words: John Fawcett (1740-1817) / Music: Hans Georg Naegeli (1773-1836), adapted by Lowell Mason
EARLIEST DATE: 1782 (Fawcett, _Hymns adapted to the circumstances of Public Worship and Private Devotion, according to Marilyn Kay Stulken, _Hymnal Companion to the Lutheran Book of Worship_)
KEYWORDS: religious nonballad
REFERENCES (1 citation):
ADDITIONAL: Charles Johnson, One Hundred and One Famous Hymns (Hallberg, 1982), pp, 70-71, "Blest Be the Tie that Binds" (1 text, 1 tune)
Blest Be the Tie that Binds (parody) (Pankake-PHCFSB, p. 107; Roud #12809)
NOTES [352 words]: According to Johnson, author John Fawcett was a Methodist-influenced Baptist. He came to be pastor of a congregation at Wainsgate, where he was successful enough that another congregation tried to steal him away with the offer of a better salary. When his own congregation could not match it, he prepared to move. Whereupon the Wainsgate church begged him to stay (and, presumably, anted up). Fawcett wrote this hymn because of the ties that bound him to his church.
Julian, p. 148, reports of this song's history:
Blest be [is] the tie that binds. J. Fawcett.... Miller, in his Singers and Songs of the Church, 1869, p. 273, says:--
"This favorite hymn is said to have been written in 1772, to commemorate the determination of its author to remain with his attached people at Wainsgate. The farewell sermon was preached, the waggons were loaded, when love and tears prevailed, and Dr. Fawcett sacrificed the attractions of a London pulpit to the affection of his poor but devoted flock."
Three sources of information on the matter are, however, silent on the subject -- his Life and Letters, 1818; his Misc. Writings, 1826; and his Funeral Sermon. Failing direct evidence, the most that can be said is that internal evidence in the hymn itself lends countenance to the statement that it was composed under the circumstances given above. Its certain history begins with its publication in Fawcett's Hymns, &c., 1782, No. 104, where it is given in 6 st[anzas] of 4 l[ines].
Reynolds, p. 44, says that the account of Fawcett's negotiations with the congregation (which refused to pay the full salary he asked) is "apocryphal," printed in 1861, and that the link of those negotiations with this song was first published in 1869. The first appearance of the tune "Dennis" was in Mason and Webb's The Psaltery, for the text "How Gentle God Commands"; it may originally derive from a German hymn.
McKim, p. 301, says that Fawcett's original title for the poem was "Brotherly Love." She adds that, "As with most of [Fawcett's] one hundred sixty-six hymns, this one was written to be used after a sermon." - RBW
Last updated in version 4.2
- Julian: John Julian, editor, A Dictionary of Hymnology, 1892; second edition 1907 (I use the 1957 Dover edition in two volumes)
- McKim: LindaJo H. McKim, Presbyterian Hymnal Companion, Westminster/John Knox Press, 1993
- Reynolds: William Reynolds, Companion to Baptist Hymnal, Broadman Press, 1976
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