‘When They Had Sung a Hymn’

By C. Robert Wetzel

We often look to the Gospel of Matthew for an account of the institution of the Lord’s Supper. It is here that we read,

While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” (Matthew 26:26-28).

One can only imagine the intensity of this occasion. And it would have been even more so had the disciples understood the future significance of what Jesus was doing. But it is understandable they did not even realize what was to happen a few hours hence, let alone what the Lord’s Supper was to mean to future believers.

1communion4_JNIn any event, this came at the conclusion of the Passover meal. It was a spiritual high. And you do not nonchalantly walk away from a spiritual high. And so they sang a hymn (v. 30).

Today our observance of the Lord’s Supper is often introduced by a hymn, a “Communion hymn.” One hopes this Communion hymn focuses our thoughts on the sacrificial death of our Lord Jesus Christ. And so we sing, “Beneath the Cross of Jesus” or “Bread of the World” or another appropriate hymn. These songs prepare us for the spiritual experience of sharing in this sacred meal.

The observance of the Lord’s Supper can and should be an intense spiritual moment. And when one has such a spiritual high, there is then a coming down. And what better way to come down then to sing a hymn?

Robert Wetzel, retired after serving as president of Emmanuel Christian Seminary for 15 years, still lives in Johnson City, Tennessee. 

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