Text: George Wallace Briggs (1875-1959)
Music: George Henry Day (1883-1966)
Tune name: EDSALL
This hymn was originally published in the British hymnbook Songs of Praise (1931). The text is based on the encounter of the risen Christ with the disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:28ff.). Invited to be their guest, Christ becomes their host. Participation in the gift of the eucharist is the source of the Church’s life and unity.
The author of the text, George Wallace Briggs, was an Anglican priest who served a number of parishes and also was a chaplain in the Royal Navy. Canon of Leicester Cathedral and later of Worcester and a founding member of the Hymn Society of Great Britain and Ireland, Briggs is the author of six hymns in our Hymnal.
1. Come, risen Lord, and deign to be our guest;
nay, let us be thy guests; the feast is thine;
thyself at thine own board make manifest
in this our sacrament of bread and wine.*
2. We meet as in the upper room they met;
thou at the table, blessing, yet dost stand:
“This is my body”: so thou givest yet;
faith still receives the cup as from thy hand.
3. One body we, one Body who partake,
one Church united in communion blessed;
one name we bear, one Bread of life we break,
with all thy saints on earth and saints at rest.
4. One with each other, Lord, and one in thee,
who art one Saviour and one living Head;
then open thou our eyes that we may see;
be known to us in breaking of the Bread.
* In our Hymnal, the last line of the first stanza of “Come, risen Lord” reads: “in this our sacrament of Bread and Wine.” This is a slight but significant change from what Canon Briggs originally wrote. He later regretted permitting the change:
I originally concluded verse one with: ‘In thine own sacrament of bread and wine.’ Dr. Percy Dearmer, who edited Songs of Praise, had come to his own views about the institution of the Sacraments, and he was not prepared — at that stage of his life, for his doctrinal pilgrimage was a strangely chequered one — to say that Christ ordered the continuance of the Sacrament. He therefore begged leave to alter ‘In thine own sacrament’ to ‘In this our sacrament.’ I reluctantly consented — and have ever since regretted it. As Prof. F. C. Burkitt said, whether our Lord did or did not directly order the continuance of the Sacrament, it was undoubtedly His sacrament, or the Church would never have continued it.
There are two tunes in our Hymnal for this hymn. We typically sing EDSALL, composed by George Henry Day (1883-1966), who began his life in church music as a choirboy at Trinity Chapel, New York City. After holding posts as organist/choirmaster in several churches in New York and Delaware, he settled at Trinity Church, Geneva, New York. He named this tune after his rector at that church; another tune of his in our Hymnal is named GENEVA in honor of his parish’s location, not the Swiss home of John Calvin.
Below is Andrew Remillard’s rendition of this hymn on piano.