Joy During Lent?

Our Music During Lent

 

“I Come with Joy”

 

I come with joy to meet my Lord, forgiven, loved and free,
in awe and wonder to recall his life laid down for me.

 

Choosing the music for worship can sometimes be challenging. I try to follow the lectionary, but this week with the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from death, it was difficult to find appropriate hymns without getting into the Easter theme of Resurrection.  So I decided to focus on the Lord’s Supper, one of the most important practices of the Christian church and a key symbol of our relationship to Christ and one another.

Brian Wren is one of the most vibrant hymn writers today. Most hymnals include at least a few of his hymns. “I come with joy,” which appears in at least forty hymnals in North America, was written in 1968 for Wren’s congregation as a summation of a sermon series on Communion. It reflects a shift in many communion hymns since the 1960s: rather than focusing on the suffering Christ on the cross, it emphasizes the Eucharistic dimensions of the feast. “Eucharist” is a term from the Greek that means thanksgiving. Unlike many older communion hymns, the first line speaks of an attitude of joy when approaching the table.

The first stanza is written from a first-person singular perspective. The individual worshipper comes to the table with joy “forgiven, loved, and free.” The second stanza places that individual worshipper in the Christian fellowship – with “Christians far and near.”  No longer is this a table of individual penitence, but a communal feast.

By the third stanza, the perspective changes from first-person singular to first-person plural. It is now “we” and “us” who are being shaped as one in Christ’s love. It is the feast at the table that removes the barriers that divide us: Christ’s love “makes us one” and “strangers now are friends.” In the fourth stanza, “we meet the Lord” and experience “His presence” through the meal.

The fifth stanza can be a sung benediction. Through the singing of this hymn, we are made into one body in worship and return to the world to witness as Christ’s “people in the world.”

 

Together met, together bound, we’ll go our different ways,
and as his people in the world, we’ll live and speak his praise.

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