Academic journal article The Hymn

"Look Who Gathers at Christ's Table" Text: Thomas H. Troeger Tune: Michael Corzine

Academic journal article The Hymn

"Look Who Gathers at Christ's Table" Text: Thomas H. Troeger Tune: Michael Corzine

Article excerpt

All of the articles which I am writing for the Hymn Interpretation column of The Hymn focus on hymns which will appear in Glory to God: The New Presbyterian Hymnal. I would like to devote this article to the greatly-expanded communion section of the hymnal.

Not only will there be many additional hymns for the communion service as opposed to only a handful, but they will represent a wide variety of styles from traditional to contemporary to global. I am excited about this section. By having more hymns from which to choose, congregational participation during the serving of the elements will be enhanced.

One of the hymns which I am very excited about is "Look who gathers at Christ's table." I was introduced to this hymn at the Montreat Music and Worship Conference a number of years ago. It immediately became a favorite of mine. I have not seen the hymn in a hymnal nor heard it sung since that conference. So, when it appeared as a consideration for the new hymnal, I was very excited. I became even more excited after the committee voted to include it in our new collection, and I have used it since in hymn festivals which I have organized.

This hymn was secretly commissioned by the First Presbyterian Church in Tallahassee, Florida, in celebration of Brant S. Copeland's fifteenth anniversary as pastor of that congregation in the fall of2000. Thomas H. Troeger and Michael Corzine were selected to compose a hymn. It was first sung in worship on October 15, 2000. The tune is named Copeland in honor of the Copeland family. The sacrament of the Lord's Supper has always been a central part of Brant Copeland's ministry. So, it is very appropriate that the theme of communion was selected for this project.

The first verse describes the many different kinds of people who are gathering to take part in the sacrament. Each has a story to tell. We see people who are happy and those who are sad. Some feel inadequate to be part of the sacrament based on sins they have committed or other things which are burdening them. What they have forgotten is that Christ welcomes them with open arms. He invites us to come as we are; he does not want to exclude anyone. All are welcome.

Verse two transports us back through many centuries to see that there have always been people who have struggled with various issues. The table becomes the light that shines on these people who remind all that they and we are not the first people to wrestle with our unworthiness. …

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