"BLESSED BE THE FOUNTAIN OF LIFE"
"…Be baptized, and wash away thy sins…" (Acts 22.16)
INTRO.: A song which talks about the provisions that God has made that we might wash away our sins is "Blessed Be The Fountain of Life." The text was written and the tune was composed both by William Augustine Ogden (1841-1897). Born in Franklin County, OH, near Columbus, he grew up in Indiana. After serving in the Civil War, he studied music and began producing hymns. His first song book, Silver Song, in 1870 became immensely popular, selling 500,000 copies. In 1887, he became superintendent of music in the public schools of Toledo, OH, where he remained until his death.
Some of his songs included in many of our books for which he provided both words and melodies are "He Is Able To Deliver Thee," "Scattering Precious Seed," "Seeking the Lost," "Jesus, The Loving Shepherd," "O If My House Is Built Upon A Rock," and "Where He Leads I’ll Follow," beginning, "Sweet are the promises." Some songs where he provided a melody for words by others include "Come To The Feast" and "Bring Them In." Another fairly well-known song of his that does not appear in any of our books to my knowledge is "Look And Live," beginning, "I’ve A Message From The Lord."
I have not been able to find any information on the background, date, or origin of publication for "Blessed Be The Fountain Of Life." Among hymnbooks published by brethren during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ that I have in my collection, it appeared in only three: the 1943 Standard Gospel Songs and the 1966 Great Christian Hymnal No. 2 both edited by Tillit S. Teddlie; and the 1963 Abiding Hymns edited by Robert C. Welch. Today it may be found in the 2007 Sacred Songs for the Church edited by William D. Jeffcoat. I assume that it must have been used in others, but these were the only ones that I could locate.
This song reminds us both of what God has done and what we need to do to be cleansed.
I. Stanza 1 identifies the origin of our cleansing
"Blessed be the fountain of life today, Flowing free, flowing free;
There the soul may wash all its guilt away, In that fountain of life, flowing free."
A. The Old Testament prophesied that following the days of the restoration from captivity the Messiah would come and a fountain would be opened for sin and uncleanness: Zech. 13.1
B. Because of this fount, souls would be able to wash: Eph. 5.26, Tit. 3.5
C. The reason that souls need to be washed is because they bear the guilt of sin: Rom. 3.23
II. Stanza 2 identifies the blessings of our cleansing
"Many have been cleansed in that fount from sin, Flowing free, flowing free;
Many yet will come and will wash there in, Blessed fountain of life, flowing free."
A. We recognize that it is the blood of Christ that cleanses from sin when we meet His conditions: 1 Jn. 1.7
B. Many have already been cleansed, as recorded in the scriptures–e.g.: Acts 18.8, 1 Cor. 6.9-11
C. Many will yet come and wash in it, because the promise is to all mankind, even those afar off: Acts 2.38-40, Rev. 22.17
III. Stanza 3 identifies the dangers of not having this cleansing
"Linger not away from this fountain pure, Flowing free, flowing free;
For the guilty soul ’tis a welcome cure, Blessed fountain of life, flowing free."
A. No one should linger away from the fountain, because now is the day of salvation: 2 Cor. 6.2
B. It is for the guilty soul because Jesus came to heal the spiritually sick: Matt. 9.12-13
C. It has the cure because the blood of Jesus Christ was shed for remission of sins: Matt. 26.28
CONCL.: The chorus continues to extol the benefits of this fountain:
"O the blessed fountain Of life! freely flowing,
To that blessed fountain I’ll go and I’ll wash and be clean."
While we recognize that we are saved by God’s grace, there are certain conditions to receiving His salvation, things that we must do upon which He promises to bestow it as a free gift. This song could be and has been used as an invitation song to encourage sinners to meet God’s terms in obeying His will that they might "go and…wash and be clean." When they have done that, they can surely say, "Blessed Be The Fountain Of Life."