“‘Twas on That Night”

"The Lord Jesus the same night in which He was betrayed took bread" (1 Cor. 11.23)

     INTRO.: A song which points to the night in which Jesus was betrayed and took bread is "’Twas On That Night." The text was written by John Morison or Morrison (1749-1798). Originally in six stanzas, it was first published in the 1781 (some sources say 1791) revision, in which Morison assisted, of the 1745 Scottish Translations and Paraphrases. The tune (Rockingham Old, Tunbridge, Caton, Communion, or Mayhew) is of unknown origin. Some scholars think that it is derived from a tune (Bromley) by Jeremiah Clarke (1669-1707). Others believe that it originated with Carl Philip Emmanuel Bach (1714-1788). It first appeared anonymously in A Second Supplement to Psalmody in Miniature, c. 1770-1780, edited by Aaron Williams (1731-1776). The modern arrangement or adaptation was made by Edward Miller, who was born on Oct. 30, 1735 (some sources say 1731), at Norwich, England. Apprenticed to his father, who was a paver, he ran away to study music under Charles Burney at King’s Lynn and at one time was a flautist in the orchestra of George Frederick Handel, receiving a doctorate degree in music from Cambridge University in 1786.

     An organist, Miller lived for fifty years at Doncaster in South Yorkshire, England, composing harpsichord sonatas, and his hymn tunes were published in such works as The Psalms of David Set to Music in 1774; The Psalms of David for the Use of Parish Churches in 1790, in which this version of the tune first appeared; The Psalms of Watts and Wesley in 1801; Sacred Music in 1802; and with the help of his minister son W. E. Miller, David’s Harp in 1805. Also, he published books on composition in 1787, the performance of psalmody in 1791, and the history of Doncaster in 1804. He died on Sept. 12, 1807, at Doncaster. Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, the song appeared in the 1925 edition of the 1921 Great Songs of the Church (No. 1) and the 1937 Great Songs of the Church No. 2 both edited by E. L. Jorgenosn; and the 1963 Christian Hymnal edited by J. Nelson Slater. Today it may be found in the 1986 Great Songs Revised (with a different tune) edited by Forrest M. McCann; and the 1992 Praise for the Lord edited by John P. Wiegand.

     The song is very appropriate to help us prepare our minds for partaking of the Lord’s supper.

I. Stanza 1 centers upon the bread
"’Twas on that night when doomed to know The eager rage of every foe,
The night in which He was betrayed, The Savior of the world took bread."
 A. The Bible does tell us that Jesus instituted the Lord’s supper in the evening: Matt. 26.20
 B. This was the same night in which He was betrayed: Matt. 26.47-56
 C. As He began instituting the Lord’s supper, He took bread: Matt. 26.26

II. Stanza 2 centers upon the meaning of the bread
"And after thanks and glory given To Him that rules in earth and heaven,
That symbol of His flesh He broke, And thus to all His followers spoke."
 A. The statement that He "blessed" the bread means that He gave thanks: Lk. 22.19
 B. The purpose of giving thanks was obviously to give glory to Him that rules in earth and heaven: Matt. 6.9
 C. Jesus specifically pointed out that the bread was intended to represent His body or flesh: Mk. 14.22

III. Stanza 3 centers upon what Jesus said about the bread
"’My broken body thus I give For you, for all. Take, eat, and live;
And oft the sacred rite (feast) renew That brings my saving (wondrous) love to view."
 A. When we eat of the bread, we do so in remembrance of His body that was broken for us: 1 Cor. 11.24
 B. As often as we eat the bread, then, we show the Lord’s death: 1 Cor. 11.26
 C. This reminds us of the wondrous saving love of Jesus to lay down His life for us: 1 Jn. 3.16

IV. Stanza 4 centers upon the cup
"Then in His hands the cup He raised, And God anew He thanked and praised,
While kindness in His bosom glowed, And from His lips salvation flowed."
 A. After the bread, Jesus took the cup: Matt. 26.27
 B. The cup reminds of the kindness of God in sending Jesus to die for our sins: Tit. 3.4-5
 C. Also, it reminds us that salvation flows from Jesus Christ: Acts 4.12

V. Stanza 5 centers upon the meaning of the cup
"’My blood I thus pour forth,’ He cries, ‘To cleanse the soul in sin that lies;
In this the covenant is sealed, And heaven’s eternal grace revealed.’"
 A. The purpose of the cup is to represent the blood of Christ: 1 Cor. 11.25
 B. It is the blood of the covenant that was shed to cleanse our souls from sin: Matt. 26.28
 C. Thus, in the cup that represents the blood of Christ, heaven’s eternal grace is revealed: Eph. 2.8

VI. Stanza 6 centers upon what Jesus said about the cup
"’With love to man this cup is fraught; Let all partake the sacred draught.
Through latest ages let it pour In memory of My dying hour."
 A. The cup is not the literal container but the "sacred draught," the fruit of the vine: Lk. 22.17-18, 20
 B. Jesus wants His disciples to drink of the cup: Mk. 14.23-25
 C. As we do so, through the ages it will pour in memory of His dying hour in that it is the communion of the blood of Christ: 1 Cor. 10.16

     CONCL.: In Great Songs of the Church editor E. L. Jorgenson made some alterations in stanza 3, noted above in parentheses, and telescoped stanzas 5 and 6 into a single stanza reading:
"’My blood I thus pour forth,’ He cries, ‘To cleanse the soul in sin that lies;
Partake: and when the cup ye pour, Remember still My dying hour."
All of our books which contain the song follow these changes.  The editors of Great Songs Revised believed that the Rockingham "tune, however, had fallen into disuse in recent years and the hymn was not being used" so they "felt that the text was too good to lose and hence set it to Windham." However, in my opinion, Rockingham Old is a great tune, as indicated by its inclusion in a large number of denominational hymnals with different hymns. It is the preferred British tune for Isaac Watts’s "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross." In any event, these words help take our minds back to the the institution of the Lord’s supper, how "’Twas On That Night."


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