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Words: Eliza Edmunds Hewitt (b. June 28, 1851; d. Apr. 24, 1920)
Music: William James Kirkpatrick (b. Feb. 27, 1838; d. Sept. 20, 1921)
Note: The hymn was published in 1900, under the name L. H. Edmunds. Lidie H. Edmunds was a pen name of Eliza Hewitt. Miss Hewitt was a school teacher in the city of Philadelphia for about half a century, and she worked in her church’s Sunday School for the same period.
It may lack the pompous dignity of a butler pronouncing through his nose, “Dinner is served,” but a cheerful call from the kitchen, “Come and get it!” works just as well. Both are an announcement that preparations are complete; it’s time to gather around the table for a meal.
Mealtimes should be a time for conversation and sharing, a time for listening and learning. But in the last half century that intimate family time has slowly been eroded–at least in North America. The coming of television in the early 1950’s, and the invention of the prepackaged “TV dinner” around the same time, has often replaced family interaction with passive watching of whatever’s on the tube.
Add to that such things as work responsibilities, and recreational options outside the home, both of which have multiplied, causing individual members of the family to set their own schedules. Meals when the whole family gets together have become more and more rare.
Surveys have shown that one of the biggest factors in the current popularity of the television cop show Blue Bloods, is that each episode shows the family gathered around the table for a meal. It’s interesting that many fans say that’s their favourite part of the program. There we see family members expressing concern for one another. And we see a kinship around spiritual values. (How many shows do you know where a family is often seen asking God’s blessing on a meal?) Their family time is dynamic, and plays a part in molding attitudes and changing behaviour.
In the Bible, banquets and feasting are used many times as a metaphor for enjoying the blessings of God. We see it in the beloved Psalm 23.
“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul” (Ps. 23:1-3).
Later, the Lord Jesus identifies Himself as the spiritual food we need, saying, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst” (Jn. 6:35). And “On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink’” (Jn. 7:37).
What we call the Communion Service, or the Lord’s Supper, is a symbolic representation of the death of Christ on the cross, pointing backward to Calvary, and onward to His promised return. “As often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes? (I Cor. 11:26). In eternity, the saints will feast with Him. “Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb [meaning Christ]!” (Rev. 19:9).
Christ’s parable of The Great Supper, pictures for us the gospel invitation. The master told his servant, to “say to those who were invited, ‘Come, for all things are now ready’” (Lk. 14:17). In 1900, this gospel song appeared, based on that theme. The reference in CH-2 to “the cup of salvation” comes from Psalms.
“What shall I render to the LORD for all His benefits toward me? I will take up [lift up, in praise and thanksgiving] the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the LORD” (Ps. 116:12-13).
CH-1) Come, for all things are ready! ’Tis a banquet of love;
Here’s a free invitation from the Master above:
It is written in crimson, drawn from Calvary’s flood,
From the wonderful fountain of the soul cleansing blood.
Oh, what fullness in Jesus!
Oh, what gladness to know,
Though our sins be as scarlet,
He’ll make them as snow.
CH-2) Come, for all things are ready! Heaven’s bounty is spread;
Take the cup of salvation, take the life giving bread:
Come, though poor and unworthy, come, though sinful and weak;
’Tis the hungry and thirsty whom the Master doth seek.
1) What is there about a banquet that makes it an appropriate symbol of God’s salvation?
2) What other hymns do you know that use the banquet symbol?