1 Blest be the tie that binds
our hearts in Christian love;
the fellowship of kindred minds
is like to that above.
2 Before our Father's throne
we pour our ardent prayers;
our fears, our hopes, our aims are one,
our comforts and our cares.
3 We share our mutual woes,
our mutual burdens bear,
and often for each other flows
the sympathizing tear.
4 When we are called to part,
it gives us inward pain;
but we shall still be joined in heart,
and hope to meet again.
5 This glorious hope revives
our courage by the way;
while each in expectation lives
and waits to see the day.
6 From sorrow, toil, and pain,
and sin, we shall be free;
and perfect love and friendship reign
through all eternity.
Psalter Hymnal, 1987
|First Line:||Blest be the tie that binds|
|Title:||Blest Be the Tie That Binds|
|Author:||John Fawcett (1782)|
|Liturgical Use:||Closing Songs|
st. 1-3 = Gal. 3:28
st. 3 = Gal. 6:2
An orphan at the age of twelve, John Fawcett (b. Lidget Green, Yorkshire, England, 1740; d. Hebden Bridge, Yorkshire, 1817) became apprenticed to a tailor and was largely self-educated. He was converted by the preaching of George Whitefield at the age of sixteen and began preaching soon thereafter. In 1765 Fawcett was called to a small, poor, Baptist country church in Wainsgate, Yorkshire. 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. The day of departure came, and his family's belongings were loaded on carts, but the distraught congregation begged him to stay. In Singers and Songs of the Church (1869), Josiah Miller tells the story associated with this text:
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 wagons were loaded, when love and tears prevailed, and Dr. Fawcett sacrificed the attraction of a London pulpit to the affection of his poor but devoted flock.
Fawcett continued to serve in Wainsgate and in the nearby village of Hebden Bridge for the remainder of his active ministry.
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 will be reunited with departed friends and freed "from sorrow, toil, and pain and sin (st. 4-6).
He wrote most of his hymns to be sung by his congregation at the conclusion of the sermon. They were published in Hymns adapted to the Circumstances of Public Worship and Private Devotion (1782). In the preface to his collection Fawcett apologized to "persons of an elevated genius" for his "plain verses" but expressed the hope that they would edify "humble Christians."
Worship services that stress unity or the communion of saints; occasions of departure; encouragement for mutual prayer, fellowship, and burden bearing; close of the worship service or other church meetings; funerals.
--Psalter Hymnal Handbook
Blest be [is] the tie that binds. J. Fawcett. [Brotherly Love.] Miller, in his Singers and Songs of the Church, 1869, p. 273, says:—
"This favourite hymn is said to have been written in I772, 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 stanzas of 4 lines From an early date it has been in common use, especially with the Nonconformists, and at the present time it is found in a greater number of collections in Great Britain and America than almost any other hymn by Fawcett. It is usually given as “Blest is the tie," &c, and in an abridged form. Original text in Spurgeon's Our Own Hymn Book, 1866, No. 892, and Songs for the Sanctuary, N. Y., 1865, No. 847.
-- John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)
John Fawcett was a Baptist minister in England in the later part of the eighteenth century. He wrote over one hundred fifty hymns, mostly as congregational responses to his sermons, and published a collection of these – including this text under the title “Brotherly Love” – in 1782.
There is a popular though somewhat unreliable story about the writing of this hymn. In 1772 Fawcett was completing his service to a small church in Wainsgate, England, having accepted a call to a larger congregation in London. However, after he had preached his farewell sermon and loaded the carts for the move, the tearful entreaties of his congregation persuaded him to stay in Wainsgate, where he ministered for the rest of his life. This hymn is supposed to have been written in response to this experience.
This hymn has six stanzas on a theme of the bond of Christian unity and love. Many hymnals omit the last two stanzas (beginning “This glorious hope revives” and “From sorrow, toil, and pain”), which speak of the anticipation of friendships renewed in heaven. The fourth stanza (“When we are called to part”) is about the pain of parting from a Christian community and is also occasionally omitted. The first three stanzas are always included, and speak of the strength of the bond of Christian love, and its practical implications that Christians must pray for and actively support one another.
Lowell Mason and George J. Webb published DENNIS in The Psaltery in 1845 with the text “How Gentle God's Commands.” They credited it as “Arranged from H. G. Nägeli,” though the exact source is unknown. Mason may have taken an idea from a tune by Nägeli and composed a largely original melody.
DENNIS is in two long phrases in an even rhythm. The text is set to two syllables per measure in unbroken regularity, so a short breath pause in between phrases may help keep the congregation together.
This hymn may have been written as a closing hymn and would work well to close a service with a theme of Christian unity and brotherly love. It is also appropriate for a farewell service or meeting or, especially with stanzas 4-6, for the funeral of a beloved church member. Since the hymn is written with first person pronouns, it is a good idea for the congregation to sing it, instead of listening to the choir sing it. The tune DENNIS is so well associated with the text that it would work well as a postlude to bring the themes of unity and love to mind as the congregation is dismissed. The piano collection “Blest Be the Tie” contains a calm arrangement of the title hymn, and “Songs of Thankfulness and Praise, Set 2” contains a straightforward setting of DENNIS for organ.
Tiffany Shomsky, Hymnary.org