Filled with Best Sustenance: "Bread of heaven, on Thee we Feed"
This short communion song is the epitome of receiving Christ as the Bread and Salt of Life.
Josiah Conder's (1789-1855), "Bread of heaven, on Thee we feed" encapsulates the meaning of faith as sustenance of a believer’s life. It is the perfect song for a Communion, symbolizing Christ as the metaphorical bread that gives us life on Body and Mind.
This hymn has only two stanzas, with six lines each. Even though it is short (and the perfect Communion song), it is only found in 312 hymnals. It appeared first in Conder's The Star in the East (1824) with a meter of 126.96.36.199.7.7.
The tune of the hymn is labeled as 'French' and 'Welsh.' Other records show that the hymn has four named tunes. These are "Jesu, Jesu, Du Mein Hirt" by Paul Heinlein (1676), "Bread of Heaven" by William D. MacLagan (1875), "Houghton-le-Spring" by Samuel S. Wesley (1860), and "Nicht So Traurig" by Johann G. Ebeling (1666).
Born in London in 1789, Josiah Conder was an author, editor, and publisher. He was the fourth son of Thomas Conder (who was an engraver and bookseller) and Rev. John Conder, D.D.’s grandson. Rev. John Conder, D.D., was the Theological Tutor of Homerton College and most likely, Conder's inspiration to write hymns.
Conder wrote 60 hymns, and he was considered as one of the finest lyricists in the first half of the current century. He also served as a hymn editor. Some of his editorial works include The Congregational Hymn Book: a Supplement to Dr. Watts’s Psalms and Hymns (1844) wherein Conder contributed fifty-six of his hymns. He also published a revised edition of Dr. Watts's Psalms and Hymns in 1851. He was a former editor of the Congregational Hymn Book, the most published collection in use in America and the United Kingdom.