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Thinking the Faith, Praying the Faith, Living the Faith is written by the PC(USA) Office of Theology and Worship.

Thinking, praying, and living the faith is at the core of ministry in the Office of Theology and Worship. In the following videos, learn more about what thinking, praying, and living the faith means to the leadership of the Office of Theology and Worship. Discover why it matters and what difference it makes in our lives, work, and worship.  

Charles Wiley  
Barry Ensign-George
David Gambrell
Christine Hong 
Karen Russell

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May 2, 2012

Song and Sacrament

One of the strong signs of sacramental renewal in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is the expansion of our repertoire of hymns and songs about Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Glory to God: The Presbyterian Hymnal (2013) is expected to include nineteen hymns, psalms, and spiritual songs in the Baptism section (compared with eight in the 1990 hymnal) and forty-five directly related to the Lord’s Supper (compared with twenty-two in the previous collection, two of which were duplicate texts set to different tunes). That’s right—nearly enough to sing a different communion hymn every week! This is to say nothing of service music for the Lord’s Supper (the Sanctus, e.g.), or passing references to sacramental images and themes that can be found in other hymns and songs throughout the book (for instance, “Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah,” with “bread of heaven,” “crystal fountain,” “healing streams,” and “verge of Jordan”).

Among the selections in the Baptism section, you will find: “We Know That Christ is Raised and Dies No More,” “Wash, O God, Your Sons and Daughters,” “Thy Mercy and Thy Truth, O Lord” (Psalm 36), “You Have Put on Christ,” and “Take Me to the Water.” The Lord’s Supper section will include these, among many others: “This is the Feast of Victory,” “All Who Hunger, Gather Gladly,” “Eat This Bread,” “One Bread, One Body,” “Taste and See” (Psalm 34), and “Let Us Break Bread Together.”

To learn more about Glory to God: The Presbyterian Hymnal, see the full list of contents presented in alphabetical order, with title, tune, author, and composer information. You may also be interested in the May 2012 issue of Call to Worship, which will reveal the structure of the new hymnal, with a listing of all the titles and tunes in (approximately) the order in which they will appear in the published volume.

Along with “Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah,” a sacramental hymn that has appeared in every official Presbyterian hymnal since 1874 is “Jesus, Thou Joy of Loving Hearts.” This is Ray Palmer’s 1858 translation of the Latin hymn Jesu Dulcis Memoria, attributed to Bernard of Clairvaux (1091-1153). I love the way Palmer’s text brings together baptismal (“fount of life”) and eucharistic (“living bread”) imagery. Although the language of the hymn is a bit archaic, the longing it expresses for renewal and nourishment at font and table is as fresh and timely as ever:

Jesus, thou joy of loving hearts,
thou fount of life, thou light of all,
from the best bliss that earth imparts
we turn, unfilled, to heed thy call.

Thy truth unchanged hath ever stood;
thou savest those that on thee call;
to them that seek thee thou art good,
to them that find thee, all in all.

We taste thee, O thou living bread,
and long to feast upon thee still;
we drink of thee, the fountainhead,
and thirst our souls from thee to fill.

Our restless spirits yearn for thee,
where’er our changeful lot is cast,
glad when thy gracious smile we see,
blest when our faith can hold thee fast.

O Jesus, ever with us stay,
make all our moments calm and bright;
O chase the night of sin away,
shed o’er the world thy holy light.

May you feast in the presence of the risen Christ—living bread and fountainhead—this Easter season.

Tags: music, sacraments, worship