O Living Bread from Heaven

This is a hymn about the Eucharist. The words are based on a German-language hymn, Wie wohl hast du gelabet, which was written by German minister and hymn-writer, Johann Rist (1607-1667).

This English translation was made by English Unitarian educator, hymn-writer and women's rights activist, Catherine Winkworth (1827-1878).

With meter D, tunes it is set to include:
  • AURELIA by English organist and composer, Samuel Sebastian Wesley (1810- 1876)
  • ACH GOTT VOM HIMMELREICHE by German composer, Michael Praetorius (1571-1621)
  • JEG VIL MIG HERREN LOVE by German-Danish composer, Hardenack Otto Conrad Zinck (1746-1832)
  • CYNCOED by English composer Simon Lloyd
  • WEDLOCK, from the The Sacred Harp, 1860


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Singer with light piano:

Small group (duet?) with synthesizer:

Large choir with organ:


Traditional language

1. O living Bread from heaven, how richly hast Thou fed Thy guest!
The gifts Thou now hast given have filled my heart with joy and rest.
O wondrous food of blessing, O cup that heals our woes!
My heart, this gift professing, in thankful songs o’erflows;
For while the faith within me was quickened by this food,
My soul hath gazed upon Thee, my highest, only Good.

2. My God, Thou here hast led me within Thy temple’s holiest place
And there Thyself hast fed me with all the treasures of Thy grace;
And Thou hast freely given what earth could never buy,
The Bread of Life from heaven, that now I shall not die;
Thou unto me hast granted that I the blessed wine
Should take by faith implanted, and be forever Thine.

3. Thou givest all I’ve wanted, the food whose pow’r can death destroy,
And Thou hast freely granted the cup of full eternal joy;
Ah, Lord, I do not merit the favor Thou hast shown,
And all my soul and spirit bow down before Thy throne;
Since Thou, O Lord, hast fed me the bread of angels here,
Though sin and death beset me, my foes I shall not fear.

4. O Love uncomprehended!
That wrought in Thee, Lord Jesus, thus,
That Thou shouldst have descended from highest heav’n to dwell with us!
Creator, that hath brought Thee Thy succor to impart!
Oh, grant to me who’ve sought Thee a meek and lowly heart
That trusts Thy grace and favour, and when my time is o’er,
May I Thy face, O Saviour, tehold forevermore.

5. For as a shadow passes, pass I, but Thou dost still endure;
I wither like the grasses, but Thou art rich, though I am poor;
Oh, boundless is Thy kindness, and righteous is Thy pow’r,
While I in sinful blindness am erring hour by hour;
And yet Thou com’st not spurning a sinner, Lord, like me!
Thy grace and love returning, what gift have I for Thee?

6. A heart that hath repented and mourns for sin with bitter sighs,—
Thou, Lord, art well contented with this my only sacrifice.
I know that in my weakness Thou wilt despise me not,
But grant me in Thy meekness the blessing I have sought;
Yes, Thou wilt hear with favour the song that now I raise,
For meet and right ’tis ever that I should sing Thy praise.

7. Grant what I have partaken may through Thy grace so work in me
That sin be all forsaken and I may cleave alone to Thee.
And all my soul be heedful how I Thy love may know;
For this alone is needful Thy love should in me glow.
Then let no beauty ever, no joy, allure my heart,
But what is Thine, my Saviour, what Thou dost here impart.

8. Oh, well for me that, strengthened
With heav’nly food and comfort here,
Howe’er my course be lengthened,
I now may serve Thee free from fear!
Away, then, earthly pleasure!
All earthly gifts are vain;
I seek a heav’nly treasure,
My home I long to gain,
My God, where I shall praise Thee,
Where none my peace destroy,
And where my soul shall raise Thee
Glad songs in endless joy.

Modern English

(most modernised publications are limited to verses 1-3 and 9, and have the shorter form as shown below)

1 O living bread from Heaven,
how you have fed your guest!
The gifts you now have given
have filled my heart with rest.
O wondrous food of blessing,
O cup that heals our woes,
my heart, this gift possessing,
in thankful song o'erflows!

2 My Lord, you here have led me
within your holiest place,
and here yourself have fed me
with treasures of your grace;
and you have freely given
what earth could never buy,
the bread of life from Heaven,
that now I shall not die.

3 You gave me all I wanted,
that food can death destroy;
and you have freely granted
the cup of endless joy.
Ah, Lord, I do not merit
the favour you have shown,
and all my soul and spirit
bow down before your throne.

4 Lord, grant me that, thus strengthened
with heavenly food, while here
my course on earth is lengthened,
to serve you, Lord most dear.
And when you call my spirit
to leave this world below,
I enter, through your merit,
where joys unmingled flow.

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