|First Line:||Come, let us eat, for now the feast is spread|
|Title:||Come, Let Us Eat|
|Author (st. 1-3):||Billema Kwillia|
|Translator (st. 1-3):||Margaret D. Miller (1969, alt.)|
|Author (st. 4):||Gilbert E. Doan|
|Copyright:||St. 4 © 1972 Contemporary Worship 4, admin. Augsburg Fortress;; St. 1-3 © The Lutheran World Federation|
Billema Kwillia (b. Liberia, c. 1925) composed both the text and the tune of this hymn during the 1960s when he was a literacy teacher and evangelist. The text's rather cryptic phrases highlight central themes of the Lord's Supper. Stanzas 1 and 2 issue the invitation "Come. . . ," stanza 3 draws us into an appropriate meditative mood in the Lord's presence, and stanza 4 dismisses us with the reminder to "spread abroad God's mighty Word."
A speaker of the Loma language, Kwillia learned to read the language as an adult through a church literacy program. In the early 1960s he became a literacy teacher himself. After being baptized as a Christian, he served as a preacher and evangelist.
The text and tune of this hymn were originally transcribed from a recorded church service. Margaret D. Miller (b. Clifton Springs, NY, 1927) translated stanzas 1 through 3 from the Loma language into English in 1969, and that translation was first published in 1970 in the Lutheran World Federation hymnal Laudamus (4th ed.). Miller was educated at the Lankenau School for Girls in Philadelphia while her widowed mother served as a missionary in Liberia. After graduation from college, Miller followed her mother's example and became a missionary in Liberia, serving there as a literacy worker and translator of the Wozi language as well as an editor of the bilingual Loma newspaper, Weekly. She has done graduate work in linguistics and anthropology at the Hartford Seminary Foundation, Hartford, Connecticut.
Gilbert E. Doan (b. Bethlehem, PA, 1930) added stanza 4 prior to the hymn's publication in the Lutheran hymnal Contemporary Worship-4 (1972). A prominent Lutheran clergyman, Doan served as campus pastor in Philadelphia from 1955 to 1961. He was northeastern director for the National Lutheran Campus Ministry from 1961 to 1984 and more recently was pastor of the Lutheran Church of the Holy Communion, Philadelphia. A graduate of Harvard College (B.A. in geology) and Lutheran Theological Seminary, Philadelphia (D .B.), he also received a master's degree in American civilization from the University of Pennsylvania. He has written Renewal in the Pulpit (1966), edited The Preaching of Frederick W Robertson (1964), and was chair of the hymn texts committee of the Inter-Lutheran Commission on Worship (1967-1978).
Lord's Supper-sing stanzas 1 through 3 during distribution of the bread and wine, and sing stanza 4 as a dismissal after the sacrament.
--Psalter Hymnal Handbook