History of Hymns: “What Feast of Love”

by Brad Kisner

What Feast of Love
by Delores Dufner
Worship & Song, No. 3170

This hymn is one that will be used in a worship service at Awaken 2017, the biennial convocation of the Fellowship of United Methodists in Music and Worship Arts, to be held July 24-27 in Little Rock, Arkansas.


Delores Dufner

Delores Dufner

What feast of love is offered here,
What banquet come from heaven?

What food of everlasting life,
What gracious gift is given?

This, this is Christ the king,
The bread come down from heaven.

Oh, taste and see and sing!
How sweet the manna given!*

In recent communication with Delores Dufner, OSB, she remarked, “Our liturgy planning team wanted a communion song especially suited to the Christmas Season, with alternation between the choir and congregation. I chose the tune GREENSLEEVES because it is well known. By using this melody, already associated with the Christmas mystery, I wanted my text to show the close relationship between the historical gift of Godself in the Incarnation, and Christ’s ongoing gift of self in the scriptural word and the Eucharistic bread and wine.”

Paul Westermeyer, in commenting on this hymn for Evangelical Lutheran Worship‎ No. 487, states the hymn can profitably be studied for how it relates images to one another.  At the most obvious level, “What feast” is answered by “bread,” “What light” by “sun,” and “What wine of love” by “the sweetest wine of heaven,” all Christologically-conceived. 

The tune GREENSLEEVES, with only speculation of its author, dates back to the sixteenth century. According to Carlton R. Young’s commentary in The Companion to the United Methodist Hymnal, the tune was mentioned by William Shakespeare twice in his Merry Wives of Windsor. It is also found in New Christmas Carols, 1642. Its use in this hymn is great for a soloist/cantor to intone the first two lines of each stanza, with the congregation joining heartily in the familiar refrain which begins “This, this is Christ the king…..”

Sister Delores Dufner (b. 1939) is a member of St. Benedict’s Monastery in St. Joseph, Minnesota, where she is an organist, cantor, choir member and liturgy planner. She served as Director of the St. Cloud Diocesan Office of Worship for fifteen years and then worked as liturgical music consultant in an Australian diocese for fifteen months. Since then, she has been writing words for liturgical hymns. More than two hundred of her hymn texts have been published in the United States. This is the second of her hymns in United Methodist publications, the first being “The Spirit Sends Us Forth to Serve,” number 2241 in The Faith We Sing. In 2013 Sister Dufner was named a Fellow of the Hymn Society of America, a group she has served as an officer. The Hymn Society’s publication The Hymn named her as one of three outstanding Roman Catholic hymn text writers since Vatican II. In 2014, she received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Association of Pastoral Musicians. 


About this week’s guest writer:

Brad Kisner is Co-chair of the Awaken 2017 Design Team, Past President of the Fellowship of United Methodists in Music and Worship Arts.  He is Director of Music, Worship, and Arts at First United Methodist Church, Corpus Christi, Texas.



The Fellowship of United Methodists in Music and Worship ArtsAwaken





This article was written by a member of the worship team of the 2017 Convocation of The Fellowship of United Methodists in Music and Worship Arts and features a hymn that will be sung at the Convocation. Come to "Awaken 2017" to be inspired, to sharpen your worship leadership skills, and to experience the great community of The Fellowship. Inspired by the 60th anniversary of the Little Rock Nine desegregation case, the event will help us understand how we as worship designers and leaders must be attuned to the injustices that continue to exist in our world - and how worship shapes us all to claim our role as Christ's partners in bringing God's reign here on earth. https://awaken2017.wordpress.com



*© 1993 Delores Dufner, OSB, admin. OCP Publications. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Categories: History of Hymns, Hymnals By Name, Worship & Song, Worship

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