All Who Hunger, Gather Gladly

Scripture References

Thematically related:

Further Reflections on Scripture References

Exodus 16 speaks of the provision of manna for the Israelites' hunger in the wilderness (stanza 1).
Matthew 5:6 points to the hungering for righteousness.

John 6:35-51 points to Jesus as the living bread (stanza 3).
Psalm 34:8 reminds us that “God is good” (stanza 1-3).

Confessions and Statements of Faith References

Further Reflections on Confessions and Statements of Faith References

God calls his children from many sources, languages, nations, and from a variety of social standings and personal needs. The Confessions are very clear on this. Belgic Confession teaches in Article 27, “This holy church is not confined, bound, or limited to a certain place or certain people.” Our World Belongs to God, paragraph 30 reminds us, “The Spirit gathers people from every tongue, tribe and nation...” and in paragraph 34 teaches that “all are welcome…the homeless…the broken…the sinner…the despised…the least…and the last…”


“Hunger,” “taste,” and “see” in this song point to the experience of being nourished at the table. The theme of the Lord’s Supper throughout the confessions is that of nourishment for our spirits. Belgic Confession, Article 35 speaks of the nourishment of our new “spiritual and heavenly” life within us, and Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 29, Question and Answer 79, speaks of the “true food and drink of our souls for eternal life.”


All Who Hunger, Gather Gladly

Tune Information

G Major
Meter D



All Who Hunger, Gather Gladly

Hymn Story/Background

This hymn was first published in Sylvia Dunstun’s In Search of Hope & Grace: 40 Hymns and Gospel Songs (GIA Publications, Inc., 1991). She wrote there of this text: “At the Hymn Society Confrence in 1990 I had the chance to acquaint myself with the tunes of the Southern Harmony. After the conference, some of us vacationed at Folly Beach outside Charleston [South Carolina], where I worked out this text, wandering up and down the beach singing the tune HOLY MANNA.”
HOLY MANNA is an Appalachian tune, published in William Moore's four-shape tune book The Columbian Harmony in 1825. William Moore (from Wilson County in west Tennessee) claimed authorship of eighteen of the tunes in that collection, including HOLY MANNA, which was set to "Brethren, We Have Met to Worship." HOLY MANNA was a very popular tune, given various names and set to various texts in many collections.
Shaped in rounded bar form (AABA), HOLY MANNA was originally meant to be sung in unison. The pentatonic (five-note) melody is well suited for canonic singing. The choir can effectively sing stanza 2, beginning one measure after the congregation, with the organ playing the last measure two times to complete the canon. Use light accompaniment or play the melody on a solo manual.
— Bert Polman

Author Information

Sylvia Dunstan (b. 1955; d. July 25, 1993) attributes her love of song to her grandparents, who kept song alive in the family and entrusted Sylvia's formal musical education to one of the nuns at the local convent. Sylvia began writing songs in the early seventies and soon after met Sister Miriam Theresa Winter, who encouraged her to write songs based on Scripture. Sylvia eventually realized that her talents did not lay with the music and concentrated instead on the lyrics. She was further shepherded and encouraged by Alan Barthel.

Her bachelor degree was earned from York University, and she received graduate degrees in theology and divinity from Emmanuel College, Toronto. In 1980, she was ordained by the Hamilton Conference of the United Church of Canada. During her career she served as a minister, a prison chaplain, and editor of a Canadian worship resource journal, Gathering.

In the summer of 1990, she was invited to lead the annual conference of the Hymn Society in the U.S. and Canada in a session exploring her hymnody. That exposure led to the publication of her texts In Search of Hope and Grace. A smaller collection Where the Promise Shines was published after her death in 1994. Many of her hymn texts have been set by contemporary composers.

Sylvia Dunstan died on July 25, 1993, almost four months after being diagnosed with liver cancer. She left behind a ministry that combined a compassionate concern for the needy and distraught with a consuming love of liturgy.
— GIA Publications, Inc. (http://www.giamusic.com)

Composer Information

The harmonization by Norman E. Johnson (b. Smolan, KS, 1928; d. Grand Rapids, MI, 1983) was first published in the 1973 Covenant Hymnal. Johnson attended Bethany College, Lindsborg, Kansas; North Park Theological Seminary, Chicago, Illinois; and received a Master of Church Music degree from the University of California. A senior music editor for Singspiration Music, Johnson also served the Evangelical Covenant Church of Grand Rapids as minister of music. He edited several hymnals, including The Covenant Hymnal (1973), to which he also contributed some texts and tunes.
— Bert Polman

Little is known about William Moore, except that he published The Columbian Harmony in 1825 and was from Wilson County, Tennessee. 
— Laura de Jong

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