O Living Bread from Heaven

Tune: Nun lob, mein Seel

A Heartfelt Song of Thanks and Praise Following the Reception of the Most Precious Holy Supper.

  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. As long as I am living,
    I shall, dear Jesus, praise Thee well,
    For Thou, Thyself here giving,
    Hast made me satisfied and full.
    Thou unto me hast given
    To drink Thy precious blood,
    And turned to me from heaven,
    Thou great and matchless Good!
    I shall not die forever,
    Since unto me is fed
    He who shall perish never,
    My Comfort, Shield, and Head.

  5. 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 favor,
    And when my time is o’er,
    May I Thy face, O Savior,
    Behold forevermore.

  6. 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?

  7. 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 favor
    The song that now I raise,
    For meet and right ’tis ever
    That I should sing Thy praise.

  8. 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 Savior,
    What Thou dost here impart.

  9. 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.

Wie wohl hast du gelabet
Johann Rist, 1651
Sts. 1–3, 5–9, tr. Catherine Winkworth, 1858, alt.
St. 4, tr. Christopher J. Neuendorf, 2015
Source: Sts. 1–2a, 6b–9, The Lutheran Hymnal, 1941, No. 316
Sts. 2b–3, 5–6a, Lyra Germanica, Second Series: The Christian Life, 1858

This hymn originally appeared in Johann Rist’s Neüer Himlischer Lieder, Lüneburg, 1651, a scan of which is available here, courtesy of the Bavarian State Library in Munich. It appeared with the caption, “A Heartfelt Song of Thanks and Praise Following the Reception of the Most Precious Holy Supper. One can also sing it to the melody of the lovely Psalm of Thanksgiving, Nun lobe meine Seele den Herren.” Catherine Winkworth’s translation was included in her Lyra Germanica, Second Series: The Christian Life, 1858, p. 103, but omitted the fourth stanza, which strongly references the Lutheran doctrine of the Lord’s Supper as being the true body and blood of Jesus Christ under the bread and wine. Selected stanzas, slightly modified from Miss Winkworth’s version so as better to comport with the meter of the tune Nun lob, mein Seel, appeared in The Lutheran Hymnal, 1941, No. 316. This marked a return from a more drastically altered version from the Evangelical Lutheran Hymn-Book, 1927, which was carried over into Lutheran Worship, 1982, No. 244, and the Lutheran Service Book, 2006, No. 642, and set to the tune Ach Gott vom Himmelreiche. For the Free Lutheran Chorale-Book, we have provided all nine original stanzas in translation, fit to the original tune, Nun lob, mein Seel.