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For the Bread Which You Have Broken

Each Communion Sunday, before partaking of the body and blood of Jesus Christ, we hear the story narrated: “While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, ‘Take and eat; this is my body.’” (Matt 26:26–29)

The story brings together the rich and poor, old and young, “red, yellow, black and white”—all the children of God—to the Lord’s table with Jesus as the host. At the table, we all are with the Lord, receiving His grace and life.

“For the Bread Which You Have Broken” is a hymn that points us to that story, so that we not only remember but also give thanks for God’s love and presence among us. The hymn concludes with a petition for God to give us strength to the face the world where He sends us: that we may understand what it means when we say “let Your kingdom come, O Lord”.

There are two melodies provided in the hymnal: first, UMH 614, a Western tune that may be played on the keyboard following the four-part arrangement. Alternatively, it may be played in a contemporised style as demonstrated in the link provided (please scan the first QR code).

The second tune, UMH 615, is based on a simple pentatonic scale, which provides an Eastern sound with a counterpoint with contrary motions to add to Asian polyphony. Dr I-to Loh, the composer suggests, doubling the melody with a flute or a cello for stanzas 1 and 2. A keyboard may play the treble parts of stanza 3. The fourth stanza may conclude with the whole setting with strong conviction as a prayer for the realization of the Lord’s kingdom.1

In The United Methodist Hymnal, look at the Service of Word and Table I on page11. You will find the post communion prayer that is offered by the pastor or by all. “For the Bread” is a hymn written to fill the place of the post-communion prayer.2 This prayer was a development in the fourth century used to formally conclude the rite.3

This hymn, written on 21 Nov 1924, encompasses the various meanings of the Eucharist: thanksgiving, mystery, our anticipation of Christ’s return and the extension of the kingdom of God. If you haven’t yet, consider using it as a post-communion hymn.

For the Bread Which You Have Broken

For the bread, which You have broken;
For the wine, which You have poured;
For the words, which You have spoken—
Now we give You thanks, O Lord.

By this pledge that You do love us,
By Your gift of peace restored,
By Your call to Heaven above us,
Hallow all our lives, O Lord.

With the sainted ones in glory
Seated at the heavenly board,
May the Church that’s waiting for You
Keep love’s tie unbroken, Lord.

In Your service, Lord, defend us,
In our hearts keep watch and ward;
In the world where you have sent us
Let Your kingdom come, O Lord.


Words: Louis F. Benson, 1924
Music: (UMH 614) FOR THE BREAD, V. Earle Copes, 1960
(UMH 615) BENG-LI, I-to Loh, 1970

Scan the QR codes to hear the hymn sung in the two tunes:

QR code:

Caption: UMH 614

QR code:

Caption: UMH 615

Judith Laoyan-Mosomos is the Director for Worship and Church Music at the Methodist School of Music, and a member of Kampong Kapor Methodist Church.

1 I-to Loh, Hymnal Companion to Sound the Bamboo: Asian Hymns in Their Cultural and Liturgical Contexts (Chicago: GIA Publications, Inc., 2011), 137.

2 Carlton R. Young, ed., Companion to The United Methodist Hymnal (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1993), 342–43.

3 Marion J. Hatchett, Commentary on the American Prayer Book (New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 1995), 392.