Since church music should have: beauty, pathos, and power," the communion service would create one of the greatest opportunities for the selection of a music setting embodying this trio of requirements.
For a number of years this has been the rule at our church, with marked effect on the regular worshipers, and visitors have thought it worthy of description in the pages of THE MINISTRY. It is therefore being described in order that it may be given a trial in other churches, whose worshipers desire a more effective music medium as an aid in producing the spiritual attitude so necessary in partaking of the broken body of our Lord.
The opening hymn is introductory to the thought of the day. "Come, let us sing the song of songs— . 'Worthy the Lamb, for He was slain !' " Not a line should be omitted, for the words of Montgomery are a unit which should not be divided.
When a second hymn is used, we sing the Charles Wesley gem, "0 Love Divine, What Hast Thou Done !" When led well by choir and organist, few hearts remain untouched as they sing those lines of great beauty, full of pathos and power. The spirit of the supreme sacrifice is, therefore, more easily entered into by the worshipers.
On this day, with Christ and His sacrifice the center of interest, solos are not quite in keeping. It is better to have music by the congregation, or a male chorus, such as, "Go to dark Gethsemane ; . . . Learn of Jesus Christ to pray."
When the men and women are separating to partake of the ordinance of humility, our choir sings, "Behold the Lamb of God !" It reduces the usual talking and maintains the spirit of the day. As the congregation reassembles, it is effective for all to join in singing Number 475 in the Church Hymnal. If you are not familiar with this excellent hymn, study its text.
"By Christ redeemed, in Christ restored,
We keep the memory adored,
And show the death of our dear Lord,
Until He come."
We are fortunate that we have an organ in our church. We have it played while the bread and wine are passed. While the bread is literally being broken by the ministers, prior to its offering to the people, we quietly play 'Break Thou the Bread of Life, Dear Lord to me." A solo stop is used, and the music is most effective if played in the tenor range.
Other hymns of similar vein are employed, until prayer is offered before serving the wine. As this is being passed to the people, we play "There Is a Fountain Filled With Blood." The meditative quiet which accompanies this appropriate music is an indication that the worshipers recognize and feel the relationship between subject and symbol.
"And they sang a hymn and went out." When we are about to leave the place of communion, 'What is more appropriate than that we should Once more unite in singing a pledge of faith?
"Must Jesus bear the cross alone, And all the world go free?
No, there's a cross for everyone, And there's a cross for me."