|First Line:||As when a shepherd calls his sheep|
|Title:||Gift of Finest Wheat|
|Author:||Omer Westendorf (1976)|
|Refrain First Line:||You satisfy the hungry heart|
|Copyright:||© 1977, Archdiocese of Philadelphia|
ref. = Ps. 81:16, John 6:35
st. 1 = John 10:14-16
st. 2 = Ps. 34:1
st. 3 = 1 Cor. 10:16
st. 4 = Col. 1:27
st. 5 = John 13:14-15
This beautiful song has become widely recognized as one of the finest recent Lord's Supper hymns, primarily because of its use of biblical images (see Scripture references). The stanzas introduce each of these images in turn, and the refrain repeatedly brings us back to the hymn's controlling thought: God's "gift of finest wheat" is Christ, "the bread of life" (Ps. 81:16; John 6:35). The solid theological text aptly presents many of the central meanings of the sacrament of the Lord's Supper.
Cincinnati poet and publisher Orner Westendorf (b. Cincinnati, OH, 1916) submitted "Gift of Finest Wheat" to a eucharistic-hymn competition that judged it the best out of more than two hundred entries. Westendorfs text and the tune BICENTENNIAL were then printed on a song sheet for use at the 41st Eucharistic Congress, a Roman Catholic convention on the eucharist held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1976 (the year of the USA's bicentennial). Both text and tune have recently been published in various hymnals.
Westendorf has had a rich and varied career in music. Educated at the College Conservatory of the University of Cincinnati, he served as organist and choirmaster of St. Bonaventure Church in Cincinnati (1936-1976). His freelance Bonaventure Choir appeared in many concerts and made numerous recordings. He also taught music in several Cincinnati schools and founded the World Library of Sacred Music in 1950 and I World Library Publications in 1957. Since 1976 he has operated his own consulting agency on church music. Westendorf has written some thirty-five hymn texts and compiled four hymnals, including the People’s Mass Book (1964), which was the first vernacular hymnal in the United States to implement the changes in Roman Catholic worship that Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) had approved.
Lord's Supper, especially during distribution of the bread and wine.
--Psalter Hymnal Handbook