(Go here for lead sheets and chord charts.)


Bread of the world, in mercy broken
Wine of the soul, in mercy shed
By Whom the words of life were spoken
And in Whose death our sins are dead

Look on the heart by sorrow broken
Look on the tears by sinners shed
And be Thy feast to us the token
That by Thy grace our souls are fed

Have mercy, have mercy
Have mercy on us

Here is mercy, here is mercy
Here is mercy for us

So let us come to the feast of Jesus
Let us eat of the Bread of Life
Let us drink of the wine, His blood
To talk and dine with Jesus Christ

Words: Reginald Heber, 1827 (verses); Zac Hicks, 2006 (add’l text)
Music: Zac Hicks, 2006
©2009 Unbudding Fig Music (ASCAP)


Video Tutorial: How to Play “Bread of the World in Mercy Broken”


“Bread of the World in Mercy Broken” is track four in our old hymns new music project.  It was written by Reginald Heber in 1827.  Heber, better known for his hymn, “Holy, Holy, Holy,” wrote at a time when hymn-writers were seeking to raise the bar of the literary art of their poetry.  Paralleling literary history, hymnody moved into a “Romantic Era,” where writers like Heber elevated the language and imagery of hymns.  Such is the case with “Bread of the World in Mercy Broken.”  Notice the parallel phrases in the first two lines.  Observe the profound irony in “and in whose death our sins are dead.”  In the second verse, Heber turns to personal theological reflection on the significance of communion for the believer—it is true spiritual food.

The middle and end of the song are additions to Heber’s text.  “Have mercy” is an ancient phrase, stemming back to the earliest liturgies in Christian worship (Kyrie eleison).  But the goal is to progress out of need to fulfillment: “here [at the table] is mercy.”  The end of the song is an invitation to recognize that, in the Lord’s Supper, we have true spiritual communion with Jesus Himself.  In essence, we “talk and dine” with Him and share an intimate meeting.  All this helps us realize that Communion truly is a mystery.