On Communion Sunday, we gather around the Lord’s Table as the body of Christ. Together we remember, give thanks and receive God’s grace. As we partake of the bread and the wine, we also hear God’s Word through the hymns we sing.
“Here, O My Lord, I See Thee” (UMH 623) is a popular hymn found in many Protestant hymnals. It was written by Dr Horatius Bonar (1808–1889) upon the request of his brother, the Rev James Bonar (1803–1891), who was the minister at St Andrew’s Church, Greenock, Scotland. At this church, it was a custom to distribute a parish notice with a hymn after each communion. It was for this purpose that the hymn was requested of Dr Horatius.1
The hymn reminds us that at the communion table, we come face to face with God. When we do so, we may face God with full vulnerability. It may be a time to unpack our “earthly load”. We give thanks for the good, confess the bad, express anger for the struggles, and seek God’s help for the difficult and challenging tasks we face. These expressions are embraced by our Lord in our fellowship with him. The Lord lavishly pours His love, mercy, forgiveness and grace on us.
The hymn assures us that while our coming to the table may be short, God’s presence remains in us. The strength we receive by God’s grace is enough to get us by. We leave the table with the confidence that by His grace, we will have the strength to face the world head-on.
Here, O My Lord, I See Thee (UMH 623)
Here, O my Lord, I see thee face to face;
here would I touch and handle things unseen;
here grasp with firmer hand eternal grace,
and all my weariness upon thee lean.
This is the hour of banquet and of song;
this is the heavenly table spread for me;
here let me feast, and feasting, still prolong
the hallowed hour of fellowship with thee.
Here would I feed upon the bread of God,
here drink with thee the royal wine of heaven;
here would I lay aside each earthly load,
here taste afresh the calm of sin forgiven.
Too soon we rise; the symbols disappear;
the feast, though not the love, is past and gone.
The bread and wine remove; but thou art here,
nearer than ever, still my shield and sun.
Feast after feast thus comes and passes by;
yet, passing, points to the glad feast above,
giving sweet foretaste of the festal joy,
the Lamb’s great bridal feast of bliss and love.
Words: Horatius Bonar, 1808–1889
1 Carlton Young, ed. Companion to The United Methodist Hymnal (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1993), 348.
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