Bread is broken

Invitation to communion and/or Agnus Dei.

1997David Lee

 

1. Bread is broken

as your people are gathered:

you were broken

that we may be made one.

Let your dying

be the ground of our living;

Lord of our broken lives, come, make us whole.

 

2. Wine is poured out

as your people are mingled,

your life-blood shed,

sacrifice for our lives.

Let your draining

be our cup of salvation

Lord of our thirsting lives, the living Vine.

 

3. Jesus, Lamb of God,

bearer of all the world's sin,

show your mercy,

show your mercy on us.

Jesus, Lamb of God,

bearer of all the world's sin,

Saviour and our redeemer, give us peace.

 

4. Agnus Dei qui

tollis peccata mundi,

miserere,

miserere nobis.

Agnus Dei qui

tollis peccata mundi,

dona nobis pacem, pacem.

 

Words: David Lee, June 1997 (c)

Tune: "Summertime" by George Gershwin (c)

For: Revd. Stephanie Watson, Durham.

 

General notes

 

The words are written specifically for the tune "Summertime" by George

Gershwin.

 

The idea of using a Gershwin tune for church music, especially for part of

the Eucharist, needs to be handled sensitively. Its appropriateness will

vary with the backgrounds and preconceptions of particular congregations.

Nevertheless there is precedent: this very tune has been used by no less an

authority than the late Canon Michael Perry (Jubilate Hymns) for his setting

of Psalm 137 "Babylon, by the rivers of sorrow". Perhaps 30 years from now,

we will begin to use some Lennon/McCartney tunes, whose latent quality is

gaining recognition.

 

The idea sprang from a Celtic poem in "The Open Gate" (p72) by David Adam of

Lindisfarne (published by SPCK/Triangle in the UK).

 

This setting may be regarded as three distinct sections usable separately or

in combination:

 

* Invitation to communion (verses 1 and 2);

* Agnus Dei in English;

* Agnus Dei in Latin.

 

Indeed the complete piece is probably too long, so that the three sections

may be better regarded as alternatives or options.

 

Nitty-gritty details

 

This is in draft form and could benefit from severe critical revision.

 

Verse 1

 

Contrasting Christ's brokenness against our wholeness. ("Unless a grain of

wheat ...")

 

Line 2: "gathered" is a weak word. The underlying idea should be that of

being assembled into an organic whole, a healed united community of

different parts ("the body of Christ"), to make the contrast with

brokenness.

 

Line 4: "that we may be made one": possible alternative readings: "that we

all may be one" "that we may be made whole" (but note that line 8 also ends

"whole").

 

Line 6: "be the ground ...". The double-meaning of ground ("foundation" and

wheat being ground down into flour to create bread) is deliberate.

 

Verse 2

 

Similarly, contrasting Christ's being emptied, drained and abandoned against

our fulness (our cup runs over). The words do not yet suitably convey this.

 

As an exercise, read Ezekiel chapter 23 (about the two sisters) and the note

the New Testament resonance which suddenly breaks onto the scene as they

have to drink the bitter cup to its very dregs. (This is perhaps one of the

most potent ever illustrations of the "atonement" and the Gethsemane agony

("let this cup pass from me"), although the passage's overall content makes

it understandably underused in church!)

 

Line 2: "people are mingled": An awkward phrase in a (failed) attempt to

convey ideas of Christian unity in diversity and of water mingled with wine.

 

Line 7: Various N.T. allusions ("never thirst again", "I am the Vine").

Christ who died, now lives as the Vine, providing life-giving wine to the

world through us, the branches.

 

Verse 3

 

"bearer of all the world's sin": A very poor singing line, especially with

this tune. Perhaps: "bearing all of the world's sin" or "bearer of the

world's evil" or similar?

 

Verse 4

 

Line 7: Slightly awkward to scan. Allow "dona" to span the first three notes

of the tune (the score shows the alignment).