“HERE, BEFORE THEE, SAVIOR”
“And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2:42)
INTRO.: A song which talks about the importance of continuing steadfastly in the breaking of bread is “Here Before Thee, Savior.” The text was written and the tune was composed both by Frank Claude Huston (1871-1959). It was first published in 1906, and the copyright was renewed in 1934. The song was owned by the Standard Publishing Co. Huston was a song writer and hymnbook editor associated with independent Christian Churches and instrumental Churches of Christ. Born in Orange, IN, he identified with the "Christians only" in 1894, the same year that he married Miss Bertha Martin. In 1898 he published his first successful song, "We Shall Gather Round the Throne," and his best known song is probably “It Pays to Serve Jesus” of 1909. For several years beginning in 1899, he worked as the song director for Charles Reign Scoville, one of the most effective mass-evangelists among the Churches of Christ and Christian Churches, serving in 180 evangelistic campaigns from Nova Scotia to Florida, and in 1915 became a minister with the Disciples of Christ at Indianapolis, IN. Other hymns by Huston include "The Christ of the Cross", "Keep on Believing", "Wonderful Savior," and "Wonderful Land of Tomorrow," and he was the compiler of a collection of 100 hymns and gospel songs including 84 of his own. Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, “Here, Before Thee, Savior” appeared in the 1937 Great Songs of the Church No. 2 edited by E. L. Jorgenson; the 1959 Majestic Hymnal No. 2 and the 1978 Hymns of Praise both edited by Reuel Lemmons; the 1963 Christian Hymnal edited by J. Nelson Slater; and the 1965 Great Christian Hymnal No. 2 edited by Tillit S. Teddlie. Today, it may be found in the 1992 Praise for the Lord edited by John P. Wiegand. All of these books have two stanzas. I have added a third.
The song reminds us of the love which Christ showed for us and its relation to the Lord’s supper.
I. Stanza 1 emphasizes the Lord’s presence
“Here, before Thee, Savior, We would lowly bow;
Grant us now Thy presence, Come and bless us now.
In this sweet communion May our souls be fed;
In true consecration May we all be led.”
A. There is a special sense that when two or three come together in Christ’s name, He is in their midst: Matt. 18:20
B. Thus, when we assemble to eat the Lord’s supper, we are present before God: Acts 10:33
C. As a result, the partaking of the supper is a communion with the body and blood of Christ: 1 Cor. 10:16
II. Stanza 2 emphasizes the elements of the supper
“Grant this bread, now broken, May a symbol be
Of Thy precious body Bruised on Calvary;
Grant this cup of blessing To our hearts may prove
One more tie that binds us Closer in Thy love.”
A. The bread is a symbol of the body of Christ that hung on Calvary: Matt. 26:26
B. The cup represents the blood that He shed for the remission of our sins: Matt. 26:27-28
C. Thus, they remind us of the love that He demonstrated by His death: 1 Jn. 3:16
III. Stanza 3 emphasizes the fact that the Lord is coming again
“When we rise from eating, May we keep in mind
What we have remembered Of Thy love so kind.
Let us every moment See Thee always nigh,
Till Thou come to take us Home with Thee on high.”
A. When we eat the Lord’s supper, we need to keep His death in mind in order that we might partake worthily: 1 Cor. 11:27-29
B. The purpose of the Lord’s supper is to help us remember the love shown in His death: 1 Cor. 11:23-25
C. But it also reminds us that this same Savior who died will come again to take us home with Him on high: 1 Cor. 1:26
CONCL.: I guess that one of my “pet peeves” is communion songs. While they do not necessarily have to be funeral dirges, some songs which have been used, even though they talk about the death of Christ, are set to light, bouncy tunes that somehow seem inappropriate for the solemn occasion of remembering the Lord’s death. Also, in a few places that I have been, it seems that the same three or four songs are used over and over and over again and again and again to prepare for the Lord’s supper. This song, which has been found in several of our books, could be a welcome addition to songs for the Lord’s supper as we tell the Lord, “Here, Before Thee, Savior.”