Let Us Break Bread Together

Representative Text

1 Let us break bread together on our knees;
let us break bread together on our knees.

When I fall on my knees
with my face to the rising sun,
O Lord, have mercy on me.

2 Let us drink wine together on our knees;
let us drink wine together on our knees. [Refrain]

3 Let us praise God together on our knees;
let us praise God together on our knees. [Refrain]

Source: Hymns of Promise: a large print songbook #183

Text Information

First Line: Let us break bread together on our knees
Title: Let Us Break Bread Together
Meter: with refrain
Source: African American spiritual
Language: English
Refrain First Line: When I fall on my knees, with my face to the rising sun


Some of the stanzas of this African American spiritual may date back to the eighteenth century. Other stanzas have been added by oral tradition. A look through modern hymnals will reveal an array of variations on the text. The most notable alteration in the Psalter Hymnal is the phrase "to the Lord of life" in place of the original "to the rising sun," in which "sun" was an ambiguous metaphor referring to God. The song's use at communion services probably dates from after the American Civil War. Miles Mark Fisher notes in Negro Slave Songs in the United States (1953),

[Originally the hymn] relates hardly at all to holy communion, which does not necessarily require early morning administration or a devotee who faces east. [This] it seems was a signal song of Virginia slaves during the eighteenth century who used it and similar ones to convene their secret meetings.

The text discerns participation in the Lord's Supper as a humble act in which we not only eat the bread (st. 1) and drink the wine (st. 2) but also praise our God (st. 3) "on our knees." The refrain ends with a prayer for mercy, an African American kyrie (see PHH 258) that reminds us of the tax collector's prayer in Luke 18:13.

Liturgical Use:
Lord's Supper–during preparation for the sacrament or during distribution of the bread and wine.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook, 1988



The tune BREAK BREAD TOGETHER, like the text, has been subject to variation. It became widely known after publication in The Second Book of Negro Spirituals (1926), compiled by the brothers James Weldon Johnson and Rosamond Johnson. The tune gained further popularity through a variety of choral arra…

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The Cyber Hymnal #3672
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Instances (1 - 63 of 63)

A Teaching Hymnal #66


African American Heritage Hymnal #686

Ambassador Hymnal #285

Anglican Hymns Old and New (Rev. and Enl.) #431

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Baptist Hymnal 1991 #366

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Baptist Hymnal 2008 #399

Breaking Bread (Vol. 39) #306


Celebrating Grace Hymnal #461


Chalice Hymnal #425

Church Hymnal, Fifth Edition #428


Complete Anglican Hymns Old and New #387

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Complete Mission Praise #414a


Discipleship Ministries Collection #124

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Evangelical Lutheran Worship #471


Gather Comprehensive #832

Gather Comprehensive, Second Edition #832


Glory and Praise (3rd. ed.) #488

Text InfoTextAudio

Glory to God #525

TextPage Scan

Hymnal 1982 #325

Hymnal #453

Hymns Ancient and Modern, New Standard Edition #480

Hymns and Psalms #615


Hymns for a Pilgrim People #524


Hymns of Promise #183

Hymns of the Saints #342

Hymns Old and New #299

Journeysongs (2nd ed.) #806


Journeysongs (3rd ed.) #800


Lift Every Voice and Sing II #152


Lift Up Your Hearts #837


One in Faith #572

Oramos Cantando = We Pray In Song #762

Praise! Our Songs and Hymns #162

Text InfoTune InfoTextScoreAudio

Psalter Hymnal (Gray) #304

Rejoice Hymns #333

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Rejoice in the Lord #545


RitualSong #911

Santo, Santo, Santo #674

Seventh-day Adventist Hymnal #403

Sing and Rejoice! #55

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Sing Joyfully #265

Singing the Faith #592


Small Church Music #93

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Songs of Zion #88


The Celebration Hymnal #460

The Christian Life Hymnal #330

The Covenant Hymnal #572


The Cyber Hymnal #3672


The Hymnal for Worship and Celebration #323

The Irish Presbyterian Hymbook #387


The New Century Hymnal #330

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The New National Baptist Hymnal #488

TextPage Scan

The New National Baptist Hymnal (21st Century Edition) #358


The Presbyterian Hymnal #513


The United Methodist Hymnal #618


The Worshiping Church #776


This Far By Faith #123


Voices United #480


Worship (3rd ed.) #727


Worship and Rejoice #699


Worship in Song #326


生命聖詩 - Hymns of Life, 1986 #234

찬송과 예배 = Chansong gwa yebae = Come, Let Us Worship #236

Include 31 pre-1979 instances
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