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Break Thou the Bread of Life
BREAD OF LIFE | Hymn History | Bible Passage
Mary A. Lathbury, 1841-1913
William F. Sherwin, 1826-1888
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Break Thou the Bread of Life, Dear Lord, to me,
As Thou didst break the bread Beside the sea.
Beyond the sacred page I seek Thee, Lord;
My spirit pants for Thee, O living Word.
Thou art the Bread of Life, O Lord, to me;
Thy holy Word the truth That saveth me.
Give me to eat and live With Thee above,
Teach me to love Thy truth, For Thou art love.
O send Thy Spirit, Lord, Now unto me,
That He may touch my eyes, And make me see.
Show me the truth concealed Within Thy Word,
That in Thy Book revealed I see Thee, Lord.
Bless Thou the Bread of Life To me, to me,
As Thou didst bless the loaves By Galilee;
Then shall all bondage cease, All fetters fall;
And I shall find my peace, My All in all.
Before his mid-week service, the great London preacher G. Campbell Morgan always read the words to the hymn, "Break Thou The Bread Of Life". The third verse is an excellent prayer for understanding God's truth.
O send Thy Spirit, Lord,
Now unto me,
That He may touch my eyes,
And make me see:
Show me the truth concealed
Within Thy Word,
And in Thy Book revealed
I see the Lord.
Mary Lathbury wrote this hymn. Born in a parsonage in Manchester, New York, she showed artistic tendearies even as a child. She particularly enjoyed drawing pictures of children.
When she graduated from school, she shared an art studio with her sister in New York where she also taught art. Her illustrations in magazines and periodicals made her name widely known. She also wrote books of poetry and illustrated them with sketches.
She enjoyed what she was doing, but she yearned to serve the Lord in a more complete way. The opportunity came when Dr. John Vincent, a Methodist clergyman, asked her to assist him in the Chautauqua Movement as his secretary. He founded the school as a summer instruction session for Sunday School teachers. Its location was ideal - a beautiful wooded area in New York state by the blue waters of Lake Chautauqua.
Dr. Vincent appreciated Mary's artistic talent, competence, and helpfulness. Whenever he wished to have a hymn that would fit into a study session of the Bible, he would ask her to write one. Music played a large part in the meetings.
When seeking inspiration, it was her custom to find a quiet spot overlooking the lake. While praying one day for guidance as to what to write, she began thinking of Christ feeding the five thousand by the Sea of Galilee. From her reflection came the widely known hymn, "Break Thou The Bread Of Life".
Another hymn she wrote by the shore of Lake Chautauqua was "Day Is Dying In The West". This beautiful evening hymn quickly became a favourite. It is still sung as Christians gather to praise God and to remember that the Lord is with us now and forever.
Mary Lathbury became known as the 'poet of Chautauqua'. Those who knew her best tell of her indescribable charm, her gentle Christian character and the influence for good she had on other people because of her dedication to the Lord.
She founded a club, the Look-Up Legion, which attracted thousands of boys and girls to Christianity. The foundation rules were: 'Look up and not down; look forward and not back; look out and not in; and lend a hand in Jesus name.'
Break thou the bread of life,
Dear Lord, to me,
As thou didst break the loaves
Beside the sea;
Beyond the sacred page
I seek thee, Lord;
My spirit pants for thee,
O Living Word.
16 Then he took the five loaves and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed them, and brake, and gave to the disciples to set before the multitude.