History of Hymns: "Come, Share the Lord"
"Come, Share the Lord"
Bryan Jeffery Leech
The Faith We Sing, No. 2269
We gather here in Jesus’ name,
his love is burning in our hearts like living flame;
for through the loving Son the Father makes us one:
Come, take the bread;
come, drink the wine;
come, share the Lord.*
Some hymns seem to flow immediately from the author’s pen, while others require months of gestation. The latter is the case with “Come, Share the Lord,” by Bryan Jeffery Leech (b. 1931), who wrote both text and music.
The composer is a native of Buckhurst Hill, Essex, England, who moved to the United States in 1955. His communion hymn, “Come, Share the Lord,” has become not only his most frequently used hymn, but also a favorite hymn during the Lord’s Supper, especially among evangelical congregations.
Mr. Leech provides us with a background on his struggle to compose the text of this hymn:
“In the autumn of 1982, I made an inner resolve to write a communion anthem and promptly forgot about it. During Christmas with my family in England, I invented a melody at the piano, but my mind was barren of any lyric ideas.
“One hot summer day, while visiting a musician friend in Simi Valley, Calif., I played the setting and asked him to react to it. After repeating it, he thought a moment and then said, ‘It’s obvious: Holy Communion.’ I went home and within an hour the words were complete. In the anthem arrangement by Roland Tabell it has become my most popular song to date.”
In reflecting on the text, the author’s theology of communion unfolds. Sharing the Lord’s Supper is a response to the “burning in our hearts” for the love of Christ who “makes us one.”
In the stanzas that follow we find that this is an open table where “No one is a stranger” and “everyone belongs.” Furthermore, this is a table where we “find... forgiveness” and “we in turn forgive all wrongs.”
The author places this celebration in the context of the post-Resurrection appearances of Christ with his followers. The second stanza begins with a reflection on passages like Luke 24:13-27 (the appearance of Christ on the road to Emmaus) and the multiple post-Resurrection appearances in John 20 and 21: “He joins us here, he breaks the bread/ the Lord who pours the cup is risen from the dead.”
This stanza takes the relationship of those gathered at the table a step further. This is not only a table where there are no strangers and “everyone belongsp;” in the sharing of communion, “We are now a family of which the Lord is head.”
Bryan Jeffrey Leech received his education at The London Bible College in England, and at Barrington College in Massachusetts and North Park Seminary in Chicago. He was ordained in 1959 in the Evangelical Covenant denomination, and has served pastorates in Massachusetts, New Jersey and California.
Mr. Leech is pastor emeritus at First Covenant Church in Oakland, Calif. He has composed over 500 songs, hymns, anthems and cantatas.
He was co-editor for the evangelical collection, Hymns for the Family of God, and author of the book, Lift My Spirits Lord: Prayers of a Struggling Christian. He is also the creator of the lyrics, books and musical scores for several biblically based musical plays, and has written two books for children.
The author succeeds beautifully in communicating a sense of cosmic time that surrounds all who share this meal. In this hymn we recall the post-Resurrection meals as a biblical witness of the past; we share the meal with Christ in our midst in the present; finally, “we anticipate the feast for which we wait” in the future.
The fullness of communion comes for those who understand that at the moment of this meal, time—past, present and future—collapses into that single moment.