Christians today think that the worship song “revolution” that we are experiencing is something new. But for those of us who have been firmly planted on the Earth while it has gone ’round the sun forty times or more, this trend is nothing new.
Catholics like Ray Repp brought a new folk mentality to worship music around the time of Vatican II. This trickled over into Protestant churches a few years later, especially within liturgical denominations. Songs like “I Am the Resurrection,” “Lord of the Dance,” “Pass It On,” and “They’ll Know We are Christians By Our Love” all were big hits when I was growing up in the Sixties. We sang them regularly as kids and even saw a few of them creep into the adult services in the Lutheran churches I was a part of at the time.
Despite the fact that I routinely sang Larry Norman’s “I Wish We’d All Been Ready,” the one song that always seemed the strangest to me was “Sons of God”:
Sons of God, hear his holy Word,
Gather ’round the table of the Lord,
Eat His body, drink His blood,
And we’ll sing a song of love,
Hallelu, hallelu, hallelu, hallelujah!
As a young person, I found this song (very Catholic, but heartily sung in our Lutheran church at the time) always hinted at a mystery far beyond what I understood whenever the communion meal was served. But now that I am older, I find the whole thing very eerie.
As I mentioned, I grew up Lutheran. And despite the fact that no one in the Lutheran Church today will agree on this, I was taught a consubstantiation position on communion. This differs from the Catholic transubstantiation in that the bread and wine were not “magically” transformed into the body and blood of Christ before the communicant partook of the elements, but rather “something mystical” happened to those elements after they were consumed. At least that is how I understood all this in my younger days.
Later, I wound up in the Presbyterian Church. I found that their take on communion—simply a remembrance done out of the command of Christ—to be highly lacking in any sense of the transcendent, unlike my Lutheran experience. This is not to say that I grasped what I’d been taught, but the evasiveness of responses to my pressing questions to older Lutherans was bothersome. I never did get a complete handle on the Lutheran view, and if any five Lutherans of varying ages were pulled off the street in your town today, they’d all have a different take on communion, I’m certain.
Now I am not of the cannibalistic sort, but despite the fact that I’d probably get a knot in my stomach singing “Sons of God” today, something has been lost in evangelical and charismatic ranks when it comes to communion. I’d love to see us come to some higher treatment of the communion meal. It deserves more than we are giving it.
I am firmly convinced that in many ways we have simplified too greatly the entire idea of communion. A complete meal hosted in the home is more what I hope to see, and some house churches have gone this way, but I also hold out hope that an invocation and celebration of the wine and bread would entail more than the casualness we bring to it. We have lost too much mystery in our meetings, and where better to restore it than in communion?
What is your take on communion? What are your reminiscences and joys over the communion meal? What would you like to see done differently? And lastly, do you feel that we have lost something in the transcendence of the meal itself?
16 thoughts on ““Eat His Body, Drink His Blood””
I was also raised Lutheran (Missouri Synod), but am non-denominational now. Although I have several Lutheran friends.
I don’t feel that whether it is literally Christ’s body and blood is the point of communion. Whether it is literal or symbolic makes no difference to me. It is still Christ regardless of literal or symbolic. I wish people would give up this old OLD debate.
I do believe however that communion is our opportunity to come in contact with Christ in faith just as the woman who touched the hem of His garment. I have heard of people being healed when they have taken communion (“this is My body…broken for you”). But even then the point of communion is not just to be healed is it (“this is My blood…shed for you”)? We should not take communion lightly but we are to examine ourselves, right? We are to seek the forgivness of sins and “go and sin no more” right? I mean you are conciously in the presence of Jesus are you not?
I am convinced that if we were physically and spiritually and conciously in Jesus’ presence, this question would seem silly and embarrassing to ask of Him. But if you want to ask Him when you see Him…promise me you’ll tell me what He said (LOL).
from email@example.com if you want to be free of religion, place the bread and the wine in front of you and ask Jesus to Consecrate it for you to have communion with Him. For you have been made a priest and king and Jesus said I will not pray to the father for you, but you pray to the Father yourself, for the Father loves you because youlove me
Sons of God – what a great song. Reminds me of being in 4th grade. So does There is a New Wind Blowin’, and They’ll know we are Christians.
I never thought so deeply about the Eucherist as a transformation of body and blood; but more as a partaking of ownership of a way of life in Jesus. Sort of in the same way that you partake in a higher learning once you are in college; this land was given up so a college could be built on it and you may grow wiser – do this in memory of me. Jesus’ “body ” was his life, and his blood was the blood required to have covenant. Do this in memory of me, not have a ceremony that you pretend the wine and bread are actually transformed into flesh and blood. That is my take on it. God Bless – and have a great day.
I remember singing this song in my Lutheran elementary school choir. It has a youthful/ innocent melody but the lyrics are grotesque– even vampiric.
Yes, and even as a primary school kid I remember thinking it was cannibalistic and vampiric. My husband tells me that he and his friends turned it into a Viking drinking song: “eatin’ bodies, drinkin’ blood” ! It wasn’t the only hymn we used to alter the lyrics to.
“They will know we are cowboys by our guns, by our guns…”
The melody and chord progression certainly didn’t discourage that one.
I think you and I must be about the same age! Thanks for stopping by.
I am also Lutheran but growing up in the church throught the late 70’s on. We sang all the songs you mention and it is one of the reasons I still like the church. I love all of those songs. I particularly like Sons of God mainly because my mother sang it around the house all the time for some reason and it make me think of her as she is gone. Yes the words were disturbing to a young person but did lead to great conversation. My pastor did have a technical answer for me on the subject as so many of my neighbors where/are catholic. He and now I think it is both/and – symbol and actual in some way. Hope you end up reading this 4 years later 🙂
Please advise where I may purchase and or download the song “Sons of God”. I remember it from the 60’s also but somehow I think it goes under a different name in the catholic book of Communal songs. Just recently i heard it sung in Spanish (I recognized the melody and the guitar and it moved me to tears….was 42 years since I last heard it..1966
i believe that the bread and the wine symbolizes the body and blood of Christ.
It’s true that Catholics see the bread and the wine as the actual Body and Blood of Jesus, but that’s because that’s the way Jesus taught it.
I hardly know where to begin.
I first heard this “hymn”, this “folk mass song” at a Catholic boarding school when I was 14. I was immediately repelled by it, and remain so repelled.
Eat His body, drink His blood,
And we’ll sing a song of love,…
You have got to be kidding me.
But, sigh….you’re not kidding me, are you?
Yup, I’m one of those dinosaurs who really liked the Tridentine mass.
Eat his body, drink his blood, and we’ll sing a song of love.
As did Jesus on the night of the last supper, He broke the bread and gave it to His disciples and said take, eat, this is My body which I give you for the remission of sins. So the church with it’s ordained and called servant, the pastor, takes the bread, and by the power of the sacrament and prayer, it is the true body and blood of our Lord. Jesus did the same thing. He broke the bread and said “This is My body.” Do this in remembrance of Me. And that is how we Lutherans partake in this Communion.
The problem with this hymn is that treats a sacred concept as if it were a frivolous notion. It’s a bizarre juxtaposition. I was raised Catholic. I love sacred music. But this hymn simply gives me the creeps.
I was raised Lutheran and we sang this every single Sunday. It was the seventies in the eighties when I was a little kid and yes this song to this day will get stuck in my head on a loop even though I haven’t set foot in a Lutheran Church since 8th grade. It is the creepiest song that we ever saying even though I know the meaning behind it. Just seeing it over and over every Sunday cuz we know Lutheran’s love those wrote services. Anyway, yes the song lyrics and the way that it sang ,especially by this person, to almost like a folk song and happy. It is a bit disturbing still to me to this day.
I believe communion is an object lesson. A parable.
The Master often taught powerful truths utilizing parables. I think the reference to eating His flesh and drinking His blood was not primarily a physical act, although going through those typical motions surely is a positive act.
Isn’t it true that as we’re walking through our days that we encounter situations when the Word that we have taken in that morning or three mornings ago is suddenly coming to life…is suddenly applicable in our situation? And isn’t it also true that the application of the Word to our lives becomes more fulfilling, more important to us as time goes by? Why?
Because the very Presence of God appears as we do so.
When we ARE feeding on the Word and when we are drinking in the Spirit of Christ by walking in the power and presence of the Holy Spirit and being guided by the truth and wisdom contained in the Scriptures we are eating in a spiritual way the Master’s flesh and drinking His blood. It feeds our human spirits but not so much our flesh. After all, man shall not live by bread alone but by every word the proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord man does live.
And that life is somehow more vivid and much more fulfilling when it is guided by the Word through the Spirit.
Not to say we don’t learn about it–in the beginning stages–by taking the physical elements of communion into our bodies, especially together, and not necessarily when we’re sitting in pews but rather when there does exist genuine, palpable unity and love among us.