“Christ Has Broken Down the Wall”

Hymn Study
by Dean McIntyre
TITLE:"Christ Has Broken Down the Wall"
AUTHOR: Mark A. Miller, 2011
TUNE: BROKEN WALLS
COMPOSER: Mark A. Miller, 2011
SOURCE: Worship & Song, no. 3122
SCRIPTURE: 2 Corinthians 5:18-20; Ephesians 2:14
TOPIC: acceptance; barriers; freedom; love; peace; reconciliation; walls

Background

Mark A. Miller received his Bachelor of Arts in Music from Yale University and his Master of Music in Organ Performance from Juilliard. He serves on the faculty at both the Drew Theological School and the Institute of Sacred Music at Yale University, where he teaches music and worship. He also is Director of the Gospel and Youth Choirs at the Marble Collegiate Church in New York City. From 1999 to 2001, he was Music Associate and Assistant Organist of The Riverside Church in New York City.

Mark is well known throughout the United Methodist Church as a worship leader, teacher, and performer of sacred music. Abingdon Press has written that he is a "rising star in the field of Protestant music." Since 1997, Mark has performed concerts and directed conferences at churches across the United States and internationally.

Mark is a lifelong United Methodist and the son, grandson, brother, and cousin of United Methodist clergy. He is an active lay person in the church, being elected as a lay delegate to both the 2000 and 2004 General Conferences, and serving on the General Commission on the Status and Role of Women (1997-2000) and the General Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns (2001-2004). In the 2008-12 quadrennium, he served as Vice Chair of the Committee on Rules of Order and Plan of Organization for the General Conference. He is a member of Covenant United Methodist Church in Plainfield, New Jersey, where he is the chair of the Staff-Parish Relations Committee. In June, he was the featured presenter on Evangelism and Worship at the Arkansas Annual Conference, and he also directed music for the Central Pennsylvania Annual Conference.

Composing for the church is one of Mark's passions. In February of 2002, the Mark Miller Anthem Series was launched by Abingdon; and in March 2003, Abingdon Press published his hymn collection, Amazing Abundance: Hymns for a Growing Church. Mark's organ work, Toccata on "God Rest Ye Merry" was featured on National Public Radio's program Pipe Dreams in 2002. In January 2004, James Earl Jones was the narrator of Mark's original work, Let Justice Roll: Song from a Birmingham Jail, which was also featured on NBC's program Positively Black.

Mark Miller's contributions to The Faith We Sing (TFWS) and Worship & Song (W&S): are noted below.

  • 2257, Communion Setting
  • 3001, "O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing" (music)
  • 3011, W&S, "All My Days" (music)
  • 3071, W&S, "The Lord's Prayer" (text adapt. and music)
  • 3120, W&S, "Amazing Abundance" (music)
  • 3122, W&S, "Christ Has Broken Down the Wall" (words and music)
  • 3148, W&S, "There's a Spirit of Love in this Place" (words and music)
  • 3152, W&S, "Welcome" (words co-author and music)
  • 3154, W&S, "Draw the Circle Wide" (music)

Words

Mark Miller's text affirms several great themes from 2 Corinthians 5:

  • Stanza 1: Christ has broken down the wall; we are to be united.
  • Stanza 2: We're accepted as we are and reconciled through God's love.
  • Stanza 3: Reconciled, we will cast aside doubts and fears; freely share peace and love
  • Stanza 4: Because Christ has broken down the wall, God calls us to tear down every wall that divides us.

The hymn has special significance in a church that is divided by a number of issues and by walls of separation constructed by a number of factions: old and young, clergy and laity, pro-choice and pro-life, gay and straight, politically conservative and liberal, large church and small church, global divisions, contemporary and traditional, and others. The hymn reminds and calls us to break down those walls between us, just as Christ broke down the wall and reconciled us to God.

Music

The first three phrases are in successively higher pitches followed by a fourth phrase that descends back to the tonic. The tempo, marked Slowly, contributes to a feeling, not so much stately, as expectant, perhaps even urgent. There is a logical movement of ideas and urgency with each stanza that is made more effective through the modulations as each stanza rises in key and volume, as arranged in the accompaniment edition. If preferred, all four stanzas may be accompanied by the first stanza accompaniment, and there is a simplified accompaniment provided, as well.

Source

Mark A. Miller Biography on Drew University Website

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Categories: Hymn Studies, Hymnals By Name, Worship & Song

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