Tune my heart to sing thy grace.
In 1757 the Englishman Robert Robinson penned the words to a hymn that many of us grew up singing in church. Rich lyrics run throughout the hymn especially in the first and final lines. Let’s focus our attention on the prayer request from the opening of the hymn, Tune my heart to sing thy grace.
The writer and we as singers are asking the Lord, who is identified in the previous line as the fount or fountain or source of every blessing to come to us. But not only to come to us. The request is that when he arrives, he would tune our hearts to sing his grace. We don’t naturally sing his grace. We are wholly relying on him to give us voice.
But our prayerful singing is not with vocal chords alone. It must spring from our hearts. Good gospel singing wells from deep within us and is something which we cannot contain. It has be uttered.
Why Sing This Prayer
Why is it necessary to sing this prayer? It is because our hearts are naturally out of tune with the grace of God. If left to ourselves, we will sing about ourselves. Our natural bent is not to exalt God nor is it to look to him as the fountain of all blessing. We like to pride ourselves for our blessings. We like to declare that we are self made men and women. And we assert our independence and our ingenuity. In short, we worship ourselves.
The psalmist teaches us that we are to Come into his presence with singing (Psalm 100:2). As you are drawn near to God, you will desire more and more to sing of him.
Robert Robinson went a little deeper in his lyrics. He prays that the Lord would tune his heart to sing thy grace. It is an understanding that we dare not nor will we ever enter into the presence of the Lord unless God’s grace has been poured out to us.
Robinson’s words also reflect a bit of his own testimony. He grew up fatherless and was running with a mischievous crowd. On one occasion he and his pals assaulted a gypsy woman. They demanded a free psychic reading while pouring booze down her throat. In response the woman pointed at him and predicted that he would live to see children and grandchildren.
This prediction caused him to think, I’ll have to change my way of living. I can’t keep on like I’m going now. His first change was to go and hear the mighty George Whitefield preach. Still not a changed man, he gathered his pals with the assurance that they would heckle the crowd while Whitefield spoke.
Whitefield took for his text Matthew 3:7:
But when he (John the Baptist) saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?”
Robinson left that meeting in spiritual dread of the coming wrath of God. He lived that way for three years until the grace of God was granted to him at the age of 20.
Robinson went on to become first a Methodist and then a Baptist preacher in England. May we join him in singing and praying, Tune my heart to sing thy grace.