Posted by: rcottrill | February 8, 2013

Till He Come

Words: Edward Henry Bickersteth, Jr. (b. Jan. 25, 1825; d. May 16, 1906)
Music: Wells (or Bortniansky) by Dmitri Stepanovich Bortniansky (b. Oct. 28, 1751; d. Oct. 10, 1825)

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: The Cyber Hymnal offers several possible tunes for this hymn, but I’m most familiar with Bortniansky’s melody, and it works well.

Though it’s clearly intended for the Lord’s Supper, given it’s use of that text (cf. I Cor. 11:23-26), this lovely 1861 hymn need not be limited to that. Bickersteth himself said it was written to emphasize an aspect of the Communion Service that is often neglected–the forward look with which it ends. It’s a hymn that looks with great comfort and encouragement toward the return of Christ.

The words “till He come” (without the “s” on “comes”) are from the KJV rendering of First Corinthians 11:26 By our regular participation at the Lord’s Table we, as believers, are bearing witness to the importance of the cross to each of us, and “proclaiming the fact of the Lord’s death until He comes [again]” (Amplified Bible). We ought to continue this practice, either until the Lord takes us home individually, or until He comes again for His church (I Thess. 4:16-17).

Need it be said that to routinely neglect this memorial ceremony could easily be construed as indicating a lack of love for the Lord, and a willing neglect of obedience to His command? If the individual claims that sin in his or her life makes the person unworthy to participate, then answer is to deal with it. “Let a man examine himself,” says Paul (vs. 28), “and so let him eat”–not stay away! There is cleansing of sin available if we will confess the wrong-doing to the Lord (I Jn. 1:7, 9). Then, we should take part wholeheartedly.

And when the one leading the service speaks the words, “till He come [or, comes],” think of how the joys of heaven and home lie beyond that (CH-1). Then all the earthly symbols will be replaced by reality. Pictures of Christ will give way to the Person of Christ. And think also how our parting from believing loved ones, sad though it is, is only “till He come” (CH-2).

CH-1) “Till He come” O let the words
Linger on the trembling chords,
Let the “little while” between
In their golden light be seen;
Let us think how heaven and home
Lie beyond that, “Till He come.”

CH-2) When the weary ones we love
Enter on their rest above,
Seems the earth so poor and vast,
All our life joy overcast?
Hush, be every murmur dumb;
It is only, “Till He come.”

And what if there are trials and tribulations to face until that day? They can send a positive message too. In the words of Albert Brumley’s song, “This world is not my home, I’m just a-passing through; / My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue.” C. S. Lewis wrote something to the effect that this world “is an inn, a resting place, but we should not mistake it for home.”

The reunion of the saints who are alive at the time of the rapture of the church with those who have gone on before (I Thess. 4:13-18), is beautifully depicted in the closing words of Bickersteth’s hymn: “Some from earth, from glory some / Severed only ‘Till He come.’”

CH-3) Clouds and conflicts round us press;
Would we have one sorrow less?
All the sharpness of the cross,
All that tells the world is loss,
Death and darkness, and the tomb,
Only whisper, “Till He come.”

CH-4) See, the feast of love is spread,
Drink the wine, and break the bread;
Sweet memorials, till the Lord
Calls us round His heavenly board;
Some from earth, from glory some
Severed only, “Till He come.”

1) “Till He come,” we should be continuing to worship at His Table. And what else should we be doing?

2) What other hymns do you particularly like to use (or have used in your church) at the Communion Service?

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal


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