With a Song in my Heart – 40 Days of Sacred Songs
Day 2 – Thursday after Ash Wednesday
To Listen: Sweet Sacrament Divine
1. Sweet sacrament divine,
hid in thy earthly home,
lo, round thy lowly shrine,
with suppliant hearts we come;
Jesus, to thee our voice we raise,
in songs of love and heartfelt praise,
sweet sacrament divine,
sweet sacrament divine.
2. Sweet sacrament of peace,
dear home of ev’ry heart,
where restless yearnings cease,
and sorrows all depart,
there in thine ear all trustfully
we tell our tale of misery,
sweet sacrament of peace,
sweet sacrament of peace.
3. Sweet sacrament of rest,
Ark from the ocean’s roar,
within thy shelter blest
soon may we reach the shore;
save us, for still the tempest raves;
save, lest we sink beneath the waves,
sweet sacrament of rest,
sweet sacrament of rest.
4. Sweet sacrament divine,
earth’s light and jubilee,
in thy far depths doth shine
thy Godhead’s majesty;
sweet light, so shine on us, we pray,
that earthly joys may fade away,
sweet sacrament divine,
sweet sacrament divine.
Francis Stanfield (1835-1914) alt.
From the Scriptures:
16 The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a sharing in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a sharing in the body of Christ? 17 Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.
(1 Corinthians 10v16-17)
What? How do we move, almost seamlessly from Evangelical Gospel Hall Choruses to a Roman Catholic Devotion to the Sacrament? (I hope you enjoyed the version in the video?)
All is explained by going back to the first time I received communion. Although being, as I only discovered when I went to a Boarding School, that I have been a lifelong Anglican, the very first time I received communion it was in a Roman Catholic Church. Let me tell you the story.
In my toddler years my brother and I were pretty much raised by our mum alone as Dad was often at sea onboard the submarine HMS Andrew (hence my first name). Only when he transferred to a new boat as part of the flotilla stationed in Malta did we settle down to a family routine – well as much of a routine as Military families have! This meant that, in good old C-of-E fashion, that we had to ‘be done’. Finally with some roots, aged six and five, my brother and I were baptised in the ship’s bell of the submarine depot ship HMS Narvik whilst she was moored in Msida Creek, Sliema.
We both went to a Sunday School in Paola with Maltese children, who at that age were preparing for their First Communion. When one of the nuns discovered that I had been recently baptised but wasn’t, because I was Anglican, going to make my First Communion she took matters into her own hands.
The earliest memory that I can claim for my own is kneeling at the communion rail in the church in Paola while a caring young nun ‘sneaked’ a consecrated wafer out of the Tabernacle so that I could make my First Communion. Looking back I put her actions down to her anticipating the discussions of the Second Vatican Council. Whatever motivated her, I am deeply grateful.
This was the first time someone let me know that I was special to God
This was the first time I was aware that there was ‘a great big Someone’ who smiled on me.
This was the first time that I knew that, in a childish (which is sometimes the best) way that I was valued and some adults would take risks to care for me.
Each time we visit Malta I go to that same church, kneel at the communion rail and, sometimes with tears in my eyes pray my ‘thank yous’.
Acceptance, especially by those whom you look to for guidance, comfort, and care, is what it means to be on the receiving end of God’s generous love.
I didn’t deserve to have communion.
I hadn’t been prepared to receive communion.
I didn’t belong to the communion ‘club’
But yet I ate…
This was ‘Love Bade me Welcome’ in action!
Much later, when I was chaplain at St Martin’s School in Rosettenville, Johannesburg, every so often a student who wasn’t confirmed came forward to receive communion. If they did this often we would talk about confirmation. But that was not always why they came forward. They were hungry (aren’t adolescents always hungry? Not only for food) and needed a sliver of wafer and a sip of wine. Some had not been baptised. Some were self-declared atheists. Some were Hindu or Muslim. But wherever they came from they came forward.
Perhaps, subconsciously dipping into my own childhood experience, I developed my theology of Communion. It’s not too difficult to say but it is hard to live out.
This is it;
‘If someone holds out empty hands in front of you, fill them’.
Not, surely, a big deal? And in the comfort of the Priory Church of St Peter at St Martin’s School it was easy to perform. However away from the familiar and out into the big wide world feeding people, giving them communion, is not so easy, especially when there are voices saying to you ‘they don’t deserve this’, ‘they are not being sincere’, ‘you know that they have broken the rules’.
At those times I become a six-year-old newly-baptised boy again and lean on the generosity of a young nun whose name I cannot recall and pray for the strength to give, and give, and give.
Father of mercy,
keep us joyful in your salvation
and faithful to your covenant;
and, as we journey to your kingdom,
ever feed us with the bread of life,
your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ.
1) The next time someone comes to you with empty hands do your best to fill them.
2) If you can, visit the place you first received communion during Lent and give thanks. If not give thanks in the place where you currently receive communion.
Reprise: Broken for Me, Broken for You
I first met this song in what I call musically ‘The Maranatha Singer Years’.
My first incumbency was in a church in the poor end of Johannesburg. The parishioners knew much about bread – we gave away 100 loaves of bread and 100 litres of soup to Johannesburg’s homeless every night – and for this reason receiving communion at St John the Divine, Belgravia always has a special place in my heart.
Please Note: These reflections are also published on my blog: suffolkvicarhomes.com on Twitter as @SuffolkVicar, and on my public Facebook page Rev Andrew Dotchin
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Prayers are adapted from the Psalm Prayers in the Common Worship Psalter. material from which is included here, is copyright © The Archbishops’ Council 2005
Scripture quotations are copyright © New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
These Reflections, ‘With a Song in my Heart’ are copyright © Andrew Dotchin 2022
One thought on “With a Song in my Heart – Day 2”
Thank you, for helping make sense of the greedy world we live in. Good to hear from you, Andrew.
Best Wishes, Michelle