“On This Blest First Day of the Week”

"ON THIS BLEST FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK"
"And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread…" (Acts 20:7)

     INTRO.: A hymn which emphasizes that in the New Testament it was on the first day of the week when the disciples came together to break bread is "On This Blest First Day of the Week." The text was written by Wayne Steven Walker (b. 1954). It is a recreation made in 2003 of an earlier version by the author in the mid to late 1990s which was inadvertently lost, probably in a move from Ohio to Missouri. The tune (Kington) for which it was penned had been composed by Frank Llewellyn Edwards, who was born in 1873 at Kington Magna, a little Dorset village not far from Gillingham. Educated at Bath College; New College in Oxford; and Ridley Hall College in Cambridge, he taught for two years in Switzerland, then came home and in 1902 became an Anglican minister at Liverpool Cathedral.  After serving at St. Paul’s in Princes Park, he held chaplainships in Seville, Spain, and in Cyprus. Then in 1908 he returned to Kington Magna where he remained until his retirement in July of 1936. One of his chief interests became bell ringing, and in 1911 he was elected a representative on the Central Council and was later made a Life Member of the council.

     In fact, I had been able to find no further information about Mr. Edwards, but in trying to do some research came upon a website with "The Secretary’s Update" of June, 2007, for "The Ancient Society of College Youths," another organization apparently having something to do with bell ringing, which said, "We also rang a touch and drank the traditional toast in memory of Rev. F. Llewellyn Edwards on Shrove Tuesday." I contacted the Society and was kindly provided with some files of newspaper articles about Edwards and his life. In addition, he served as secretary and treasurer of the Salisbury Diocesian Guild for 37 years prior to his death on Dec. 24, 1956, at the age of 83. I have no further information about the tune or its origin, other than it is sometimes used with a 1903 song "Blest Christmas Morn" by Mary B. Eddy. Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, the tune was used with Harriet Auber’s hymn, "Our Blest Redeemer, E’er He Breathed," in the 1963 Christian Hymnal edited by J. Nelson Slater.

     The song is designed to help a congregation be prepared for partaking of the Lord’s supper.

I. Stanza 1 refers to the time of the Lord’s supper
"On this blest first day of the week, In holy harmony,
We gather now Thy will to seek, Remembering Thee."
 A. The first day of the week is especially important to Christians because it is the day upon which Christ arose: Mk. 16:9
 B. Christians, especially those joined together in the local congregation, should always strive to be in holy harmony: Eph. 4:1-3
 C. This is certainly needful when they gather together to seek God’s will as the scriptures show us that first century Christians obviously did: Acts 11:26

II. Stanza 2 refers to the bread
"Thy body hanging, pierced and dead To make our spirits free,
We see in this unleavened bread, Remembering Thee."
 A. The body of Jesus hung on the cross, pierced and dead: Jn. 19:31-38
 B. The reason why He did this was to make our spirits free from sin: Rom. 6:17-18
 C. The unleavened bread reminds us of His body: 1 Cor. 11:23-24

III. Stanza 3 refers to the cup
"Thy life-blood that was offered up On darkest Calvary
We think on as we drink this cup, Remembering Thee."
 A. The blood of Jesus Christ is the means by which we have redemption or forgiveness of sin: Eph. 1:7
 B. This blood was offered up on darkest Calvary, the Latin name for Golgotha where Jesus was crucified: Jn. 19:17-18
 C. The cup reminds us of His blood: 1 Cor. 11:25

IV. Stanza 4 refers to the purpose of the Lord’s supper
"Someday again Thou wilt appear For all the world to see;
Till then we keep this supper dear, Remembering Thee."
 A. Just as He came once to bear the sins of many, the Bible affirms that someday Jesus will appear again: Heb. 9:28
 B. At that time, all the world will see Him, just as every eye beheld the power of His coming in judgment upon His enemies: Rev. 1:7
 C. The purpose of the Lord’s supper is to proclaim His death till He comes again: 1 Cor. 11:26

     CONCL.: We are not specifically commanded to sing a song in our Lord’s day worship service right before the Lord’s supper that is intended to prepare the minds of the congregation for the communion.  However, as we are authorized to sing in worship, there is no scriptural principle that is violated by doing so. There are many different kinds of hymns which are appropriate and can be useful for doing this. Many emphasize the death of Christ and may sound somewhat sad. Some may talk about the blessings that we have as a benefit of His death and so may sound more joyful. Others may simply remind us why we eat the bread and drink the cup "On This Blest First Day of the Week."

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