"THERE’S A FOUNTAIN FREE"
"For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne…shall lead them unto living fountains of waters" (Rev. 7.17)
INTRO.: A song which talks about the living fountains of waters to which the Lamb shall lead us is "There’s A Fountain Free" or "Free Waters" (#287 in Hymns for Worship Revised and #593 in Sacred Selections for the Church). The text was written by Mrs. Mary Bridges Canedy Slade (1826-1882). The tune (Free Waters) was composed by Asa Brooks Everett (1828-1875). The song was first published in 1876, though it must have been produced before that time because Everett died the prior year, and was copyrighted by Rigdon McCoy McIntosh. Mrs. Slade and Mr. Brooks collaborated in many songs which appear in our books, the most famous of which is "Footprints of Jesus," including "Beyond This Land of Parting," "Hark! The Gentle Voice of Jesus," and "Who At My Door Is Standing?" It has been affirmed that Everett was a member of the Church of Christ, but I have not been able to confirm this.
Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, "There’s a Fountain Free" appeared in the the 1935 Christian Hymns (No. 1), the 1948 Christian Hymns No. 2, and the 1966 Christian Hymns No. 3 all edited by L. O. Sanderson; the 1938/1944 New Wonderful Songs edited by Thomas S. Cobb; the 1938 Spiritual Melodies, the 1947 Standard Gospel Hymns, and the 1965 Great Christian Hymnal No. 2 all edited by Tillit S. Teddlie; the 1940 Complete Christian Hymns and the 1960 Hymnal edited by Marion Davis; the 1959 Majestic Hymnal No. 2 and the 1978 Hymns of Praise edited by Reuel Lemmons; the 1963 Abiding Hymns edited by Robert C. Welch; and the 1963 Christian Hymnal edited by J. Nelson Slater. Today, it may be found in the 1971 Songs of the Church, the 1990 Songs of the Church 21st C. Ed., and the 1994 Songs of Faith and Praise all edited by Alton H. Howard; the 1978/1983 Church Gospel Songs and Hymns edited by V. E. Howard; and the 1992 Praise for the Lord edited by John P. Wiegand; as well as Hymns for Worship, Sacred Selections, and the 2007 Sacred Songs of the Church edited by William D. Jeffcoat.
The song invites the sinner to come that he might receive the blessings of the fountain.
I. Stanza one calls us to the fountain free
"There’s a fountain free, ’tis for you and me, Let us haste, O haste to the (its) brink;
‘Tis a fount of love from the source above, And He bids us all freely drink."
A. It was prophesied that a fountain would be opened for sin: Zech. 13.1
B. It is for you and me because the gospel is to be preached to every creature: Mk. 16.15
C. Therefore, we should hast because He bids us all freely drink: Rev. 22.17
II. Stanza two calls us to the living stream
"There’s a living stream with a crystal gleam, From the throne of life now it flows;
While the waters roll let the weary soul Hear the call that forth freely goes."
A. The fountain is pictured as flowing from a living stream that in turn comes from the throne of life in heaven: Rev. 22.1-2
B. These waters roll for the benefit of the weary soul: Jn. 7.37-38
C. However, to partake of them we must hear the call that forth freely goes to come to Christ: Mt. 11.28-30
III. Stanza three calls us to the living well
"There’s a living well and its waters swell, And eternal life they can give;
And we joyful sing, ever spring, O spring, As we haste to drink and to live."
A. These waters, flowing into the fountain from the living stream which comes from the throne are then pictured as being contained in a well, a sight that was very common in Bible days: Gen. 26.15
B. In contrast to the physical water contained in such well, this well has waters which can give eternal life: Jn. 4.1-14
C. When we understand this, we will be joyful and will haste to drink that we might live: Isa. 12.3
IV. Stanza four calls us to the rock that’s cleft
"There’s a rock that’s cleft and no soul is left That may not its pure waters share;
‘Tis for you and me, and its stream I sea; Let us hasten joyfully there."
A. The means by which these waters in the well come to us are through a rock that is cleft, as God provided water in the wilderness for the people of Israel: Exo. 17.1-7
B. This same rock is available for you and me, because that rock was Christ: 1 Cor. 10.4
C. Thus, we should hasten joyfully to Him: 2 Cor. 6.2
CONCL.: The chorus continues to admonish the sinner to come and receive the blessings of this great fountain:
"Will you come to the fountain free? Will you come, ’tis for you and me?
Thirsty soul, hear the welcome call; ‘Tis a fountain open for all."
Those who are lost in sin are like those who carry a great burden in the hot desert and need to be refreshed. And God has provided that refreshment in Christ because in Him "There’s A Fountain Free."