Posted by: rcottrill | October 1, 2012

According to Thy Gracious Word

Words: James Montgomery (b. Nov. 4, 1771; d. Apr. 30, 1854)
Music: Martyrdom (also called Avon), by Hugh Wilson (b. Dec. 2, 1766; d. Aug. 14, 1824)

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: The Cyber Hymnal gives several possibilities for tunes that can be used with this hymn, with Martyrdom by Scottish musician Hugh Wilson listed first. I have also seen Manoah used. The latter melody is from a collection of church music published by Henry Greatorex, but the actual composer of the music is disputed.

James Montgomery, for thirty-two years the editor of a newspaper called The Sheffield Iris, was also a hymn writer of note. The Cyber Hymnal lists 117 of his hymns. Various ones will be familiar, depending on a local church’s traditional background and the hymnal used. Here are a few of Montgomery’s songs:

According to Thy Gracious Word
Angels from the Realms of Glory
Go to Dark Gethsemane
Hail to the Lord’s Anointed
In the Hour of Trial
Prayer Is the Soul’s Sincere Desire
The Lord Is My Shepherd
Stand Up and Bless the Lord
We Bid Thee Welcome in the Name

The present very fine Communion hymn, as published in 1825, had six stanzas. Some books use only four (CH-1, 2, 5, 6), others include all six. The text is based on the words of the Lord Jesus at the Last Supper, “Do this in remembrance of Me” (Lk. 22:19). It’s a command, repeated in First Corinthians (11:25) that believers continue to memorialize what Christ did for us on the cross of Calvary, and that we continue to do so until He comes again (I Cor. 11:26).

We all struggle to remember–to call to mind all kinds of things. Sometimes, we sheepishly refer to our efficient “forgetteries,” or we’ll say, “I have a good memory; it’s just short!” The failure to bring certain things to mind can be a minor inconvenience, like going shopping and forgetting to take along our shopping list. Other forgotten things can be more significant.

I was on a long bus trip one time. The bus stopped for a break, and we all got out for ten or fifteen minutes. Then, we were on our way again. But for some reason, the one in charge forgot to take a count. Many miles down the road, someone said, “Where’s Jack?” It was assumed for awhile that he must be in the washroom at the back of the bus. But more time passed, and finally we came to the conclusion that he’d been left behind at our last stop. There was no other choice but to go back. It turned out that Jack had wandered off to make a phone call, and missed the bus’s departure. No real harm was done, and we had a good laugh at his expense.

A more serious incident is recorded in the book of Genesis, where Joseph, falsely accused by Potiphar’s wicked wife, was cast into prison. Pharaoh’s chief butler was in prison too and, when he was finally released, Joseph asked him to appeal to Pharaoh on his behalf (Gen. 40:14). But we read that “the chief butler did not remember Joseph, but forgot him” (vs. 23), and Joseph languished in prison for two more years (Gen. 41:1, 9).

Still greater would be the shame of one of God’s blood-bought children forgetting what Christ did to save him or her. Our present access to God and our eternal glory were purchased at dreadful cost by the sufferings of the Lamb of God. Not only that, but in neglecting the Lord’s Supper we are failing to obey the command of the Lord to do so until He returns.

There’s another failure involved too, a failure to witness to our faith in Christ. By participating at the Table of the Lord, we “proclaim the Lord’s death” (I Cor. 11:26). It means we preach and teach about Christ and the meaning of His death on the cross and its importance to us. (The same Greek word is used in Colossians 1:28, when Paul declares, “Him we preach.”)

Knowing the fallibility of our memories, and the importance of keeping Calvary before us, it is worthwhile to make the kind of sincere pledge that Montgomery does in his hymn.

CH-1) According to Thy gracious word,
In meek humility,
This will I do, my dying Lord,
I will remember Thee.

CH-2) Thy body, broken for my sake,
My bread from heav’n shall be;
The testamental cup I take,
And thus remember Thee.

1) What are some reasons why a person might grow neglectful of the Lord’s Supper?

2) What are some practical values in consistently participating in this ceremony?

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal


  1. How precious your words are to me this day. I thank you for loving The Lord so dearly, it is conveyed in your post. Sincerely, Laura

    In Him all things consist Sent from my iPad

    • Your encouragement is appreciated. Drop by any time.


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