Let us Break Bread Together at the Altar

This folk-style hymn about unity in the Eucharist was composed by Robert Blue n the 1960s.

It was recorded on "Run, Come See" and published in the Hymnal for Young Christians, Volume 2, by Friends of English in the Liturgy (FEL) Publications in 1966.   It was also published in the United Kingdom in the 20th Century Folk Hymnal Volume 1.   Today, copyright is owned by F.E.L, and administered by Lorenz Corporation.

It is one of a number of hymns that were written about the Roman Catholic Mass in the period after Vatican II, which focus on educating people about what is happening at each stage in the liturgy.


Today it is not regularly used, partly because this type of education is no longer necessary, and partly due to theological concerns about the second verse: people gather and offer bread and wine, but Catholic belief is that what they eat and drink is no longer simply bread and wine.

However some people have used it as a general-purpose song about Christian unity by:
  • Leaving out the current verses 1-3
  • Starting with a new verse "Let us gather together, at the altar, gather together we are one .."
  • Using the current fourth and fifth verses, viz  "Join hands" and "Love one another ... ".

The meter is 11.8.11.8.   The tune was composed specifically for this song, and is un-named.   It is in 4/4 time, and was originally published in the key of Emajor, and it can be playeg on guitar using only 4 chords (E, B7, C#m and F#m, in the original arrangement).

It has no relationship to the Afro-American spiritual Let us Break Bread Together on our Knees.

Downloads

Currently, no downloadable versions or on-line examples have been found: please leave a comment below if you have located one.

Lyrics

The lyrics are copyright, so cannot be reproduced here.

The original song had five verses, each with four lines, and each line has two phrases. The structure of the verses is:
Let us <<action>>, at the altar,
<<action>>, we are one.
For when we 
<<action>>, we are one. For when we <<action>>, at the altar
<<action>we are one.

The actions included in the original song are are:

  1. Break bread together
  2. Drink wine together
  3. Offer together
  4. Join hands together
  5. Love one another
But there is scope to add others as desired.

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