Wayne S. Walker

“For as often as ye eat this bread and drink this cup, ye do show the
Lord’s death” (1 Cor. 11.26)

     A hymn that talks about eating the bread and drinking the cup to
remember the Lord’s death is “In Memory Of The Savior’s Love” (#181 in
“Hymns for Worship Revised”).  The text is attributed to Thomas
Cotterill, who was bornat Cannock in Staffordshire, England, on Dec. 4,
1779, and educated at the Free School in Birmingham, and at St. John’s
College, Cambridge.  Becoming a minister in the Church of England in
1803, he served first at Tutbury.  This hymn is made up of stanzas three,
five, and six of his six-stanza “Blest with the presence of their God,”
which first appeared in Jonathan Stubb’s 1805 “Uttoexeter Selection of
Psalms and Hymns for Public and Private Use.  In 1808 Cotterill moved to
Lane End in Staffordshire, where in 1810 he prepared the first edition of
his own “Selection of Psalms and Hymns.”

     In those days, only the hymns in the approved Psalters were used in
the Anglican churches, but Cotterill attempted to introduce his
collection of songs in an effort to promote more congregational singing.
After he moved to St. Paul’s in Sheffield in 1817, where he served until
his death, a legal controversy arose in 1819 when those in the
congregation who opposed hymn singing sought to have his hymnbook
prohibited.  The Archbishop of York persuaded him to withdraw it and
prepare another collection, the ninth edition, in 1820.  Somebody must
have been using the first eight, but the final one was officially
accepted, and thus became the first hymnbook so recognized for use in the
English church.  Cotterill died in Sheffield on Dec. 29, 1823.

      The three-stanza version of Cotterill’s hymn first appeared in 1835
in Whittinham’s “Collection.”  The tune (Winchester Old) seems to be
based on a melody from Christopher Tye’s setting for the eighth chapter
of “The Acts of the Apostles” in 1553.  The arrangement of it as a hymn
tune is credited to George Kirbye (c. 1560-1634).  It is first found in
“The Whole Book of Psalms,” a psalter published in 1592 by Thomas Este
(c. 1540-1608).  His name is also spelled Est, East, and Easte, and he
was a licensed printer and well-known music publisher in London, England.
  Sometimes he is credited with the composition.  The present form dates
to the 1861 “Hymns Ancient and Modern.”

     This hymn helps center our minds on the purpose for which we eat the
Lord’s supper.

I. Stanza 1 points out that the Lord’s supper is in memory of the
Savior’s love.
“In memory of the Savior’s love We keep the sacred feast,
Where every humble, contrite heart Is made a welcome guest.”
  A. When Jesus instituted the Lord’s supper, He told us that we are to
partake “in remembrance” or in memory of Him: 1 Cor. 11.23-25
  B. We remember His love because He showed His love for us in laying down
His life for us: 1 Jn. 3.16
  C. But we must also make sure that we come to this feast with a humble,
contrite heart because we must examine ourselves to eat in a worthy
manner: 1 Cor. 11.27-29

II. Stanza 2 points out that both the bread and the cup are special
tokens of Christ’s love
“By faith we take the bread of life With which our souls are fed,
The cup in token of His blood That was for sinners shed.”
  A. Because the bread and the cup symbolize something spiritual, when we
eat we are walking by faith, not by sight: 2 Cor. 5.7
  B. The bread represents the body of Jesus as it hung on the cross: Matt.
  C. The cup represents His blood which was shed for the remission of our
sins: Matt. 26.27-28

III. Stanza 3 points out that eating the Lord’s supper points us toward
the heavenly feast
“Beneath His banner thus we sing The wonders of His love;
And here anticipate by faith The heavenly feast above.”
  A. To stand “beneath His banner” simply means to identify ourselves with
Christ and His love for us by participting in this memorial feast: S. of
S. 2.4
  B. Thus, as we eat the bread and drink the cup, we are having spiritual
communion with His body and His blood in the Lord’s supper: 1 Cor. 10.16
  C. This, in turn, symbolizes the eternal communion that we can have with
Christ in His marriage feast: Rev. 19.7-9

     CONCL.:  Several alterations appear in the version of this hymn used
in our books.  The original line first line read, “In memory of His dying
love.”  Stanza 2 began, “Symbolic of His broken flesh, We take the broken
bread.”  Stanza 3 began “Under His banner” and read “And so” instead of
“And here.”  Other hymns have been used with this same tune.  A stanza
from one of them, written by Charles Wesley, can be adapted as a fitting
close to this hymn.
“Christ, through Himself, we then shall know, If He in us will shine,
And sound with all the saints below The depths of love divine.”
On the first day of each week, we need to think about these things as we
partake of the Lord’s supper “In Memory Of The Savior’s Love.”

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