John Fawcett was born into a poor family in Yorkshire, England, and was orphaned at age 12. To survive, he accepted a lengthy apprenticeship to a tailor. Then, while still in his teens, he heard the great George Whitfield preach and became a Christian.
While serving his apprenticeship, Fawcett became active in a Baptist church and was often asked to speak. Then at age 25 (and newly married) he was invited to serve as pastor of a small church at Wainsgate. The poor people of that little village were able to pay very little, and much of Fawcett’s pay came as potatoes and other produce. Once his wife, Mary, began having children, they found it difficult to survive.
Then Fawcett learned that the pastor of a large Baptist church in London was retiring, and he let the church know that he would be interested in serving them. They called him to be their pastor at a much larger salary, so John and Mary packed their household and prepared to move. But then, as the story is told, Mary told John that she didn’t think that she could leave these people whom they had both learned to love — and John allowed that he shared her sentiment — so the two of them unpacked the wagon and let the London church know that they wouldn’t be coming.
Then Fawcett, who wrote a number of hymns during his lifetime, wrote this hymn, “Blest Be the Tie,” to convey his sentiments and those of his wife to the poor people among whom they had chosen to live. Fawcett served that little church for the rest of his life — 54 years in all.
Copyright 2007, Richard Niell Donovan