John 6:41-51 The Living Bread
Text: Gracia Grindal Tune: Amanda Husberg
Just a crumb, Lord,
One small crumb
From your table overcomes
All the demons in my breast.
Speak, Lord, set my heart at rest.
Just enough and it will do,
Quite enough to make me new.
In this little bit I take
More than all the world can make.
Just this much and nothing more
Opens up the crystal door.
Inside spans eternity
Crossing all the stars for me.
Just a word and I am whole,
Just a little miracle
Written with the words you said
Strong enough to raise the dead.
Text Gracia Grindal Copyright 2012 By Wayne Leupold Editions, Inc. (See hymn below)
Text: Gracia Grindal Tune: Ralph Vaughan William (1872-1958)
Holy Spirit, fill me,
Fill me with new songs,
Songs that teach and heal me,
Help me to be strong.
Darkness, sin and evil
Threaten me with death,
Help me fight the devil
With new songs of faith.
Holy Spirit, help me,
Help me sing your praise,
Praises where you tell me
Of the Father’s grace.
Let there be no other
Whom I love as you:
God became my brother,
True, yes, it is true!
Holy Spirit, take me,
Take me, make me glad,
Glad you’ll not forsake me,
Even when I’m sad.
Fill me with thanksgiving
As I live each day,
Glad as I’m receiving
Joy upon my way.
Text Gracia Grindal Copyright 2015 By Wayne Leupold Editions, Inc.
(I have used many of the hymns on the bread of life, which has been the theme for some weeks, so I dare to use a couple of my own.) One of my favorite things about Martin Luther is his understanding of what poets call synecdoche. It is figure of speech that says if you get a small part, you get the whole thing. As in the hand that signed the papers. Meaning the person that signed the papers.
Growing up as he did in the late medieval world, where everything stood for many things—a rose was never just a rose—it was Jesus, or Mary, or love or eternity—some scholars say that he broke that apart by using synecdoche. So if you are at the Lord’s table, you don’t need to have all of him, you get all of him in the small crumb you receive in the ceremony. You could not take all of Christ into yourself, in any case, so just this small crumb gives you the whole thing. This is a comfort to me. God went to every length to make sure that I could be in relationship with him, fully, by his incarnation, and then by the means he gives us to receive him in our daily lives here on earth. A crumb will do for today. All you need and all you can bear. It is a gentle thing, actually.
We know this well in our daily lives with family. While we want to be fully and completely with our children and family, we can’t really be. There are many things pulling us away, some that are necessary and some that are not. But when we are with the little one who needs us, we want to be with him or her completely, with no reservations, so they feel we are for them.
So the heavenly father works to make us one with him. He gives means—words, water, bread and wine so we can receive him fully in those means, fragile and weak as they seem. To think that God Almighty is entirely in that crumb is one of the mysteries of our faith. What a blessing!
The first hymn works for the texts having to do with bread, in the long chapter of John 6 where Jesus shocks his disciples by telling them he is the bread of life and they will not inherit the kingdom if they do not eat him. This disgusts many of his listeners who are too literal for such talk. But we do chew on Christ's word. I can see my mother sitting at her devotions mouthing the words of Scripture during her devotions—and it was almost as if she were chewing them in order to get all the nourishment out of them. But she never could exhaust them. Every day the word was new and fresh for her, like manna from heaven. We feed on God’s Word in order to live as surely as we need to feed on our daily bread. The second was on the Epistle lesson for next Sunday, Ephesians 5:15-20., the wonderful piece on singing praise "in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart." Amen.
Ralph Vaughan Williams was one of the great English composers of all time. Although he would not quite confess his faith, he spent the majority of his life writing music for for church, hymns and operas such as his setting of John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress.
Vaughan Williams was born in Down Ampney, Gloucestershire, to an Anglican vicar. He took music lessons when he was very young and excelled. He attended the Royal School of Music where Hubert Parry, one of the great English composers of his day, was his teacher. Parry connected him with the English tradition of choral music that had been somewhat neglected by English composers who preferred the Germanic sound dominant at the time. Vaughan Williams became a huge proponent of English folk music and the tradition going back to Thomas Tallis and other early English composers.
He enrolled at Cambridge where he came to know some of the bright lights of the day, among them Bertrand Russell. After his graduation he continued studying composition, and became the music editor of the English Hymnal 1906. He would later say that nothing gave him a better musical education than studying the music of the hymns.
He volunteered for service in WWI as an ambulance driver. The noise of the guns permanently damaged his hearing. He lost many good friends during the atrocities of that war. He continued writing music through the Depression and during WWII, premiering his opera Pilgrim’s Progress in 1943. After the war he continued composing and by then was an august voice in the tradition of English music.
He wrote several well regarded symphonies, song cycles, and other music, but it is his work as the editor of the English Hymnal and the tunes he wrote for hymns that he is most well known today. His majestic setting of "For All the Saints" is a grand tune. My text goes with his tune Kings Weston.
Amanda Husberg set over 100 of my texts. This one is one I like the best. Its simplicity and straightforwardness captures the mystery of the text in a way I find quite pleasing.
LINKS to Kings Weston
First Plymouth Church Lincoln Nebraska
Cardiff Festival Choir
Choral version by Orchard Music