Be Known to Us in Breaking Bread
“Be Known to Us in Breaking Bread” was a hymn written by James Montgomery and was first published in 1825 in his Christian Psalmist, in 2 stanzas of 4 lines. It originally came out with the title “The Family Table.” It was then published in 1853 in his Original Hymns, No. 207, under the same title. Being part of the cento “Shepherd of souls, refresh and bless” has made it well-known and widespread in the United States.
James Montgomery was a Scottish-born hymn writer, poet, and editor born on November 4, 1771, at Irvine, Ayrshire, Scotland. He was the son of the only Moravian pastor serving in Scotland at the time, John Montgomery. James was five years old when his parents left him with a Moravian group in County Antrim, Ireland for West Indies. He did not saw them ever since as his parents died in the West Indies a few years later.
James studied at Fulneck, Leeds, where he was trained for the ministry. Secular studies were banned at Fulneck, but it did not stop him from reading poetry and writing his epics. He wrote his best hymns when he was young. The most popular hymns he had written were "Angels from the realms of glory," "Songs of praise the angels sang," "Hail to the Lord's Anointed" and "Go to dark Gethsemane." He was among the front liners of Christian poets. He was a poetic genius, not to mention his strong religious and Scripture knowledge and his sincere devotion to the Lord.
He began working for Joseph Gales who published a local newspaper called the Sheffield Register in 1792. He was forced to flee to Germany in 1794 to avoid prosecution, but he was still able to manage the Sheffield Register even in his early 20s. He later changed the name of the publication to Sheffield Iris. He continued his radical causes and was imprisoned twice due to his editorials. He had once denounced his faith but he found his way back as he matured, eventually returning to the Moravian church and became an advocate for Christian missions.