Ricercar W. Zeitler
“Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing”
Robert Robinson (1735-1790) had a rough beginning. His father died when he was aged five, but his maternal grandfather, Robert Wilkin, a wealthy gentleman of Mildenhall, who had never reconciled himself to his daughter’s lowly marriage, disinherited his grandson with an inheritance amounting to couch money. His mother, unable to control him, sent him to London to learn barbering. What he learned instead was drinking and gang-life.
When he was 17, he and his friends reportedly harassed a drunken gypsy. Pouring liquor into her, they demanded she tell their fortunes for free and so they could mock her predictions. Pointing her finger at Robert she told him he would live to see his children and grandchildren. This struck a tender spot in his heart. “If I’m going to live to see my children and grandchildren,” he thought, “I’ll have to change my way of living. I can’t keep on like I’m going now.” That evening he suggested to his buddies that they attend an evangelistic meeting being held by George Whitefield.
Whitefield was one of the great preachers of his day, with a voice described as part foghorn and part violin. Whitefield’s words haunted Robinson, and three years later he became a Christian.
Robinson entered the ministry, and three years later at age 23, while serving Calvinist Methodist Chapel in Norfolkd, England, he wrote the hymn “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing” for his sermon on Pentecost Sunday.
Robinson continued working in the ministry until 1790, when he was invited to Birmingham, England, to preach for Dr. Joseph Priestly, a noted Unitarian. It was there that he passed away quietly in his sleep at age 54.