In True Communion


(photo of Dusty Owens)


“The cup…is it not the communion of the blood of Christ?  The bread…the body of Christ” (1 Cor. 10:16)

     INTRO.:  A hymn which emphasizes that the bread and cup are the communion of the body and blood of Christ is “In True Communion” (#173 in Hymns for Worship Revised).  The text was written and the tune was composed both by Dusty Owens.  I do not know when or where Dusty was born and raised, but for many years he lived in the Tampa, FL, area.  While making his living as a successful businessman, he also preached at different times for various smaller churches of Christ in and around Tampa.  In addition, Dusty is a country music singer who began his professional career in Flint, MI, on radio station WWOK, at the age of sixteen, in 1946. In 1953, he began recording for the Columbia Record Co. and was signed to an exclusive writer’s contract by Fred Rose of the Acuff-Rose Publishing Co. in Nashville, TN.  In 1954, on the strength of his hit song, “Hello Operator,” Dusty made a guest appearance on the “Ozark Jubilee” in Springfield, Missouri, a show that was aired weekly on national television.  Red Foley and Porter Wagoner were stars of the show.  Later, Dusty did package shows with Porter in various cities.  In Wheeling, WV, as part of “The World’s Original Jamboree,” Dusty had a 30 minute segment that was aired weekly on the CBS radio network.  He was a regular headliner along with Hawkshaw Hawkins, Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper, Doc Williams, Hal Lone Pine, Betty Cody, The Osborne Brothers, and Crazy Elmer.

Several of Dusty’s hymns are found in Hymns for Worship.  This one was copyrighted in 1984.  The arrangement of the music was done by Margie Garrett, who also helped A. W. Dicus harmonize two of his songs, “Our God He Is Alive” and “Lord, I Believe.”  Further arranging of both text and tune was done by R. J. Stevens (1927-2012).  It was first published in 1986 in Hymns for Worship.  Other hymns by Owens in the same book are “Set Your Mind” and “The Fruit of the Spirit,” both also arranged by Garrett and Stevens.  Two additional hymns by Owens appeared in the original Hymns for Worship, both arranged by Dane K. Shepard.  They were “Make Jesus Lord of Your Life”, which was replace in the Revised Edition by “His Sheep Am I,” and “When the Spirit Came Down,” which was replaced in the Revised Edition by “The Greater Light” and “Holy Is the Lord.”  I first met Dusty in the early 1970s when he came to visit friends in my hometown who worshipped with the congregation where my family attended and he was asked to speak.  When I was in school at Florida College (1972-1974) just outside of Tampa, I would see him occasionally.  I think that at that time he was preaching with the Florence Villa Church of Christ.  And I believe that I recall running across him a few times at the Florida College lectures when we attended in the early 1980s.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Dusty became involved in a venture with Charles Holt to publish a very controversial paper called The Examiner which called into question the scripturalness of organized local congregations, maintaining a standing church treasury, and the appointment of elders as authoritative overseers, among other things.  The paper eventually folded, and a few years later Holt passed away.  Since then, I have not heard anything from or about Owens, except that he subsequently wrote an article entitled “Why I Left the Church of Christ” which appears on a number of “anti-Church-of-Christ” websites.  Dusty is currently the Owner and CEO of TCM Radio, one of the first Internet Radio Stations, established January 25, 2003.  Dusty has appeared in various places in Florida, including the Florida Opry in Plant City, FL, where he has been brought back several times by popular demand.  In 2004, Dusty appeared at the Strawberry Festival where he headlined a show along with Tommy Cash.  On September 1, 2006, Dusty was inducted into America’s Old Time Country Music Hall of Fame and performed at the 31st National Old Time Country and Bluegrass Music Festival in Missouri Valley, Iowa.  Several of his CDs are available.  Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church for use in churches of Christ, “In True Communion” has appeared only in Hymns for Worship so far as I know.

The song is designed to help prepare the minds of worshippers for partaking of the Lord’s supper.

I. Stanza 1 emphasizes the day of the Lord’s supper

“We gather now on this Lord’s day,

To eat the bread and drink the cup;

Remembering the life He gave,

In true communion now we sup.

Thank you, Lord, You died for me;

Help me, Lord, to be like Thee.”

  1. In the first century, disciples gathered on the first day of the week, which is the Lord’s day: Acts 20:7, Rev. 1:10
  2. In eating the Lord’s supper, we do it in remembrance of Him and the life He gave: Lk. 22:19-21
  3. In remembering His death, we also express the desire to be like Him in our lives: Phil. 2:5-9

II. Stanza 2 emphasizes what the Lord’s supper represents

“We hear by faith the pleading Son:

‘O Father, pass this cup from Me,

Though not My will but Thine be done,’

That night in Garden’s agony.

Bless us, Lord, as oft we show

Sincere faith from here below.”

  1. Since we did not personally experience the life and death of Christ, it is by faith, based upon inspired testimony, that we accept the truthfulness of what He did for us: Jn. 20:29-31
  2. The Lord’s supper reminds us of the suffering of Christ for us, about which He prayed in the garden of Gethsemane: Lk. 22:39-42
  3. In remembering by faith this suffering, we also express the desire to live by faith in everything that we do: 2 Cor. 5:7

III. Stanza 3 emphasizes the purpose of the Lord’s supper

“We share His body and His blood:

With quiet hearts our mind discerns

The Christ whose side flowed crimson flood;

His death we show ‘til He returns.

Lord, be with us in this place;

Keep us safely in Thy grace.”

  1. The bread represents His body and the cup His blood: Matt. 26:26-29
  2. Our purpose in eating the bread and cup is to show the Lord’s death till He comes again: 1 Cor. 11:23-26
  3. In remembering His body and blood, we express the desire to be kept safely in His grace: 1 Pet. 5:12

CONCL.:  The Scriptures are really quite clear as to the Lord’s supper.  The bread represents Christ’s body and the cup represents His blood so that as we partake we remember and show the Lord’s death.  God’s word doesn’t specifically command a hymn to prepare our minds for the Lord’s supper.  However, since we are told to teach and admonish one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, communion hymns certainly fall in the realm of that which is authorized.  This one reminds us that we should strive to eat the Lord’s supper “In True Communion.”

in true communion

One thought on “In True Communion

    Robert “Dusty” Owens
    SEPTEMBER 2, 1930 – MARCH 27, 2015
    Obituary of Robert “Dusty” Owens
    OWENS, Robert “Dusty”. Dusty Owens, a country music singer known for such hits as “Hello Operator,” “Just Call On Me” and “Once More,” passed away Friday March 27th at the age of 84. Born in Flint, MI to Ignatius (Jim) and Anna Kucharski, Dusty began his musical career at age 16, playing as an accordionist on radio station WWOK. Encouraged by Ike Everly, whom he met at KMA in Shenandoah, IA, Dusty took up guitar in pursuit of singing and songwriting, and in 1953 was signed by Columbia Record Co. In 1957 Dusty moved with his wife Betty to Temple Terrace, FL. He graduated from Florida College and received his M.A. at the University of South Florida. He dedicated himself to various careers: as motivational speaker across the U.S. and Canada, teacher, minister, and small business owner. He was a proud Rotarian with a 30-year perfect attendance record, presiding as District Governor from 1990 to 1991, as well as National Song Leader. He also served on the Temple Terrace City Council in 1989 and on the Amway Board of Directors for many years. Dusty continued to record music and perform late in life. In 1983, along with 49 other artists, he was recognized by the Wheeling Jamboree in its “Walkway of Stars” for making the greatest contributions to country music in the last 50 years. In 2003 he established TCM Radio, an internet station devoted to classic country, bluegrass, and gospel music. On September 1, 2006 Dusty was inducted into America’s Old Time Country Music Hall of Fame and performed at the 31st National Old Time Country & Bluegrass Music Festival in Missouri Valley, Iowa. “Once More” has been recorded over 100 times, by artists including Porter Wagoner, George Jones, Dolly Parton, Vince Gill, and Roy Acuff, whose rendition was officially placed in the Hall of Fame in Nashville. “How we spend our days,” wrote Annie Dillard, “is, of course, how we spend our lives.” Always vivacious and playful —whether at the dinner table or doctor’s office, he was the consummate entertainer— Dusty invested each day with passion and purpose: he was a pilot, baseball player, bowler, linguist, technophile, video gamer, and an avid Tampa Bay Rays fan. To family and friends he was generous in his love. Dusty was preceded in death by his son, Phillip Owens and his sister, Patricia Robbins. Survivors include his beloved wife of 65 years, Betty Owens; his son, Loren Owens (Michele Martin); daughters, Paula Nichols (Tony) and Rachél DeLuna (Mike Caruso); brother, Richard Kucharski (Brenda); five grandchildren, Ryan & Kara Mauldin, Jorel Juncal and Tristan & Bella DeLuna, and great-grandson, Amari Gonzalez. Dusty will be remembered by his family in a private ceremony held at a later date.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s