Gift of Finest Wheat

Hymn on One License

As when a shepherd calls his sheep

Author: Omer Westendorf (1976)
CCLI Number: 230628
Published in 45 hymnals

Audio files: MIDI, Recording
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Author: Omer Westendorf

Omer Westendorf, one of the earliest lyricists for Roman Catholic liturgical music in English, died on October 22, 1997, at the age of eighty-one. Born on February 24, 1916, Omer got his start in music publishing after World War II, when he brought home for his parish choir in Cincinnati some of the Mass settings he had discovered in Holland. Interest in the new music being published in Europe led to his creation of the World Library of Sacred Music, initially a music-importing firm that brought much of this new European repertoire to U.S. parishes. Operating out of a garage in those early years, Omer often joked about the surprised expressions of visitors who stopped by and found a wide range of sheet music in various states of “stora… Go to person page >

Text Information

First Line: As when a shepherd calls his sheep
Title: Gift of Finest Wheat
Author: Omer Westendorf (1976)
Meter: D
Language: English
Refrain First Line: You satisfy the hungry heart
Copyright: © 1977, Archdiocese of Philadelphia


Scripture References:
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.

Liturgical Use:
Lord's Supper, especially during distribution of the bread and wine.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook



Robert E. Kreutz (b. La Crosse, WI, 1922; d. Golden, Colorado, 1996) carefully crafted BICENTENNIAL for this text in Denver, Colorado, in 1976. Though the meter changes frequently, the sung text flows very naturally, with the changing meters unified by melodic and rhythmic motifs. Singing the refrai…

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Instances (1 - 45 of 45)

Breaking Bread (Vol. 39) #322

Catholic Book of Worship III #603

Celebrating Grace Hymnal #468

Chalice Hymnal #429

Christian Worship (2008) #744

Church Hymnal, Fifth Edition #452

Church Hymnary (4th ed.) #671

Community of Christ Sings #531

Evangelical Lutheran Worship #484

Gather (3rd ed.) #940

Gather Comprehensive #815

Gather Comprehensive, Second Edition #816

Glory and Praise (3rd. ed.) #487

Text InfoAudio

Glory to God #523

Hymnal Supplement 1991 #774

Hymnal Supplement 98 #855

Hymnal Supplement II #43

Hymns for a Pilgrim People #531

Hymns of Glory, Songs of Praise #671

Hymns of the Saints #345

Journeysongs (2nd ed.) #803

Journeysongs (3rd ed.) #791

Lead Me, Guide Me (2nd ed.) #757


Lift Up Your Hearts #815

Lutheran Service Book #641

Moravian Book of Worship #417

One in Faith #540

Oramos Cantando = We Pray In Song #761

Psalms for All Seasons #81A(alt)

Text InfoTune InfoAudio

Psalter Hymnal (Gray) #300

Renew! Songs and Hymns for Blended Worship #217

RitualSong (2nd ed.) #1028

RitualSong #912

Santo, Santo, Santo #672

The Book of Praise #538

The Covenant Hymnal #560

The Presbyterian Hymnal #521


The United Methodist Hymnal #629

The United Methodist Hymnal Music Supplement #144

Together in Song #539

Voices United #478

With One Voice #711

Worship (3rd ed.) #736

Worship (4th ed.) #939

Worship and Rejoice #705

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