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Eat This Bread

Scripture References

Further Reflections on Scripture References

Working with Brother Robert and Jacques Berthier of the Taizé Community in France, Batastini adapted "Eat This Bread" from John 6:35 on the morning of October 7, 1983, and Berthier composed the music that same afternoon. The volume they were working on was published in 1984.

 

Batastini intended the hymn for communion processionals that call for a chorus that is easily memorized and sung while people come forward for the communion bread and wine. Lift Up Your Hearts prints only the refrain; five stanzas taken from John 6, to be sung by a soloist, are published in Music from Taizé (vol. 2, 1984). The original text of the refrain portrays Christ as the speaker: "Come to me" and “Trust in me.”

Confessions and Statements of Faith References

Further Reflections on Confessions and Statements of Faith References

Just like this song, Belgic Confession, Article 35 is a reassurance that the Lord’s Supper “…nourishes and maintains the spiritual life of believers when eaten—that is, when appropriated and received spiritually by faith.”

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Eat This Bread

Additional Prayers

A Prayer of Gratitude to Jesus Christ
Self-giving Christ, you whose body and blood nourish our souls, we give you thanks for your infinite sacrifice given from love, always from love, only from love. Amen.
— Cornelius Plantinga, Jr.
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Eat This Bread

Tune Information

Name
BERTHIER
Key
G Major
Meter
Irregular

Recordings

Musical Suggestion

"Eat This Bread" seems so simple and short that it might fall into the category of a refrain. And so it is. Many congregations have been blessed singing this song repetitively with varied instrumental accompaniment. But some congregations have difficulty meditating on a text for more than two or three repetitions. While the hymnals contain just the refrain, there is more to the song, both textually and musically.
 
The instrumental accompaniments are wonderfully varied. One of the challenges of trying Taizé music the first time is to piece together all the parts of the instrumental mosaic on the page. The various accompaniments are all optional, and any number of combinations are possible. The best solution is to simply try different combinations in a rehearsal, and try to shape them with a plan for beginning, climax, and ending. 
(from Reformed Worship, Issue 19)
— Emily Brink
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Eat This Bread

Hymn Story/Background

The first volume of Music from Taizé included mostly Latin texts; when preparing the second volume, GIA Publications, Inc. president Robert J. Batastini was interested in providing more English texts as well. Working with Brother Robert and Jacques Berthier of the Taizé Community in France, Batastini adapted "Eat This Bread" from John 6:35 on the morning of October 7, 1983, and Berthier composed the music that same afternoon. The volume they were working on was published in 1984, also with verses from John 6 to be sung by a soloist.
 
Batastini intended the hymn for processionals that call for a chorus that is easily memorized and sung while people come forward for communion. 
— Bert Polman

For an increasing number of North Americans, the name Taizé evokes a certain style of singing that has become popular in more and more churches, retreat centers, and campus parishes. Taizé is in fact an ecumenical community of brothers located in the small village of that name in the Burgundy region of eastern France.
 
Taizé began with one man, Brother Roger. In 1940 he came to what was then a semi-abandoned village in Burgundy, his mother’s native region. He was twenty-five years old, and he had come there to offer a welcome to Jews fleeing the Nazi persecution and to work out a call to follow Christ in community, a community that would attempt to live out the Gospel call to reconciliation day by day. Today, the Taizé Community is composed of around a hundred brothers. They come from different Christian traditions and from over twenty-five different countries, and make a life commitment to live together in joy, simplicity, and mercy as a “parable of community,” a sign of the Gospel’s call to reconciliation at the heart of the world. Tens of thousands of people, mainly between the ages of 17 and 30, come throughout each year from around the world to spend a week going to the roots of the Christian faith. They join in the community’s worship three times a day, listen to Bible introductions on the sources of the faith, spend time reflecting in silence, and meet in small sharing-groups. The community encourages participants, when they return home, to take back what they have discovered and put it into practice in the concrete conditions of their life – in their parishes, their place of work or study, their families.
 
Life at Taizé, following the monastic tradition, has always turned around three main poles – prayer, work, and hospitality. The three times of worship create the basic rhythm of the day, with a very meditative form of prayer in which singing and silence have always played a large part. When the number of visitors to Taizé began to increase, and more and more young people started arriving, the brothers felt the need to find a way for everyone to join in the prayer and not simply be observers. At the same time, they felt it was essential to maintain the meditative quality of the prayer, to let it be an authentic encounter with the mystery of God revealed in Jesus Christ. Finally, it was found that chants made up of a few words repeated over and over again made possible a prayer that was both meditative and yet accessible to all. They were happy to develop a form of sung music that can be used just as well by a small group of students who meet weekly in a dorm to pray as in a celebration that fills the cathedral of a large city. The “songs of Taizé” thus make it possible for hundreds of thousands of people throughout the world to be linked in common praise of God.
 
With the help of the musician Jacques Berthier, friend of Taizé, different methods were tried out, and a solution was found in the use of repetitive structures, namely, short musical phrases with melodic units that could be readily memorized by everybody. The use of some very simple words in basic Latin to support the music and the theme of prayer was also dictated by pastoral needs. From practical experience it was the only way of solving the unavoidable problem of languages that arouse at international gatherings. On the other hand, living languages are widely used. Increasingly, song collections around the world, Protestant and Catholic, include songs from Taizé for congregational worship.
 
GIA Publications is the North American publisher of the many recordings and song collections from the Community of Taizé.
-from http://www.giamusic.com/bios/taize.cfm
— GIA Publications, Inc. (http://www.giamusic.com)

Composer Information

A son of musical parents, Jacques Berthier (b. Auxerre, Burgundy, June 27, 1923; d. June 27, 1994) studied music at the Ecole Cesar Franck in Paris. From 1961 until his death he served as organist at St. Ignace Church, Paris. Although his published works include numerous compositions for organ, voice, and instruments, Berthier is best known as the composer of service music for the Taizé community near Cluny, Burgundy. Influenced by the French liturgist and church musician Joseph Gelineau, Berthier began writing songs for equal voices in 1955 for the services of the then nascent community of twenty brothers at Taizé. As the Taizé community grew, Berthier continued to compose most of the mini-hymns, canons, and various associated instrumental arrangements, which are now universally known as the Taizé repertoire. In the past two decades this repertoire has become widely used in North American church music in both Roman Catholic and Protestant traditions.
— Bert Polman
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