"LORD OF OUR HIGHEST LOVE!"
"And He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world" (1 Jn. 2.2)
INTRO.: A hymn which points out that the Lord’s supper is to help us remember that Jesus is the propitiation for our sins is "Lord Of Our Highest Love." The text was written by Gilbert Young Tickle, who was born on June 30, 1819, at Mayport in Cumberland, England. Most of the hymnwriters associated with churches of Christ with whom we are familiar are American. However, Tickle was a resident of Liverpool, England, and assisted Alexander Campbell in going through customs when he arrived there for his tour through England, Scotland, and Ireland in 1847. An associate of David King of Birmingham, one of the leaders among churches of Christ in England, he assisted in editing some of the editions of Hymns for Churches of Christ, which include over twenty of Tickle’s compositions. His death occurred in Liverpool on Apr. 1, 1888.
Two of Tickle’s texts, both communion hymns, were used by E. L. Jorgenson in the 1922 supplement to his 1921 Great Songs of the Church (No. 1). One is "Another week, and all our cares have flown." The second is "Lord of our highest love." No exact information is available on when these words were written. The text was first published probably in either the 1868 or 1888 edition of King’s Hymns for Churches of Christ. The tune (Franconia) that Jorgenson used was taken from the 1738 Harmonischer Liederschatz published in Frankfurt, Germany, by Johann Balthazar Koenig (1619-1758). The melody may have been by Koenig himself. The harmonization was made by an English minister and father of hymnwriter Frances Ridley Havergal, William Henry Havergal (1793-1870). It was first published in his 1847 Old Church Psalmody.
Jorgenson included both of these songs again in his 1937 Great Songs of the Church No. 2, and they are found in the 1986 Great Songs Revised, edited by Forrest M. McCann and published by ACU Press. I have not seen "Another Week" in any other books. However, "Lord of Our Highest Love" was used in the 1953 Favorite Hymns Revised published by Standard Publishing Co., the 1963 Abiding Hymns published by Robert C. Welch, the 1965 Great Christian Hymnal No. 2 published by Tillit S. Teddlie, and today in the 1992 Praise for the Lord published by John P. Wiegand. They are both good songs, and one could wish that they were contained in more books, because it would be interesting to sing some hymns by someone associated with the disciples of Christ in Great Britain.
The song is designed to help us put away thoughts of the world and focus our minds on Christ’s death.
I. Stanza 1 exhorts us to fix our thoughts on things above
"Lord of our highest love! Let now Thy peace be given;
Fix all our thoughts on things above, Our hearts on Thee in heaven."
A. When we gather together to eat the Lord’s supper, we certainly want the peace of Christ in our souls: Col. 3.15
B. In order to have this peace, we must fix our thoughts on things above: Col. 3.1-2
C. The reason is that this is where the Christ who died for us is seated at the right hand of God: Eph. 1.20
II. Stanza 2 reminds us of the importance of the feast
"Then, dearest Lord, draw near Whilst we Thy table spread,
And crown the feast with heavenly cheer, Thyself the living bread."
A. The Lord’s supper is one of the things that helps us draw near to God so that He will draw near to us: Jas. 4.8
B. The word "table" metaphorically refers to the bread which we break and the cup which we drink: 1 Cor. 10.16
C. The feast points us to Jesus Christ who is the living bread: Jn. 6.51
III. Stanza 3 encourages us to partake of the bread
"Then as the loaf we break, Thine own rich blessing give;
May all with loving hearts partake, And all new strength receive."
A. "As the loaf we break" simply refers to eating the bread as Jesus Himself commanded us: Mk. 14.22
B. We assemble upon the first day of the weak that all with loving hearts may partake in the breaking of bread: Acts 20.7
C. In so doing, we receive new strength as we remember the death of Christ and examine ourselves: 1 Cor. 11.26-28
IV. Stanza 4 tells us what memories surround the cup
"Dear Lord! what memories crowd Around the sacred cup!
The upper room! Gethsemane! Thy foes! Thy lifting up!"
A. Memories crowd around the Lord’s supper because we are told to partake in remembrance of Christ: 1 Cor. 11.24-25
B. The cup, of course, does not refer to the literal vessel but, again metaphorically, to the fruit of the vine which represents Christ’s blood, as He taught: Mk. 14.23-25
C. This reminds us of those things that led to His being lifted up on the cross when He shed His blood for many for the remission of sins: Matt. 26.28, Jn. 3.14-15 & 12.32
V. Stanza 5 centers our attention on the suffering of Christ
"O scenes of suffering love, Enough our souls to win–
Enough to melt our hearts and prove The antidote of sin."
A. The purpose of the entire Lord’s supper is to remind us of the suffering of Christ: 1 Pet. 3.18
B. The suffering of Christ demonstrated His love for us: Jn. 15.13
C. Thus, His love, as demonstrated through His death, proves the antidote for sin because forgiveness is made available through His blood: Eph. 1.7
CONCL.: In my opinion, we need more good hymns for use before the Lord’s supper. In most places where I have been located, we tend to sing the same half-dozen or so communion songs about every six weeks. There is nothing necessarily wrong or sinful with this, and it is not my intention to criticize those who are doing the best that they can. However, anything that we can do, within scriptural and reasonable bounds, to keep the Lord’s supper from becoming a trite, hum-drum activity, such as varying the songs that we use to prepare our minds for it, might be extremely helpful. Whatever else we do, we must concentrate our minds on the "Lord of Our Highest Love."