Celebrating Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month #6
"The Bread of Life for All Is Broken," United Methodist Hymnal 633. Words by Timothy Tingfang Lew, 1936; trans. by Walter Reginald Oxenham Taylor, 1943; phonetic transcription of stanza one from the Chinese by I-to Loh, 1988; music by Su Yin-Lan, 1934; harmonized by Robert C. Bennett, 1988.
The original text of "The Bread of Life for All Is Broken,"is in semi-classical Chinese and includes Buddhist imagery familiar to the Chinese. The text was written during the war between China and Japan and reflects the suffering of the Chinese people during that time. Chinese Christians imprisoned in Japanese camps in the 1930s and World War II were not allowed to celebrate Holy Communion, but would sing or chant this hymn of Christian unity on Christ's suffering, death, and promised presence.
The hymn's author, Timothy Tingfang Lew (1891-1947), was a leading Chinese author, educator, and editor, three-time delegate to the World Council of Churches and a member of the Chinese government from 1936-41. Composer Su Yin-lan (1915-37) was a student of Bliss Wiant. She had just given birth to a son when the Japanese bombed her city of Tientsin in 1937. As a sensitive and timid person, she was literally frightened to death by the sound of the bombs.