Grace before Meal
Be Present at Our Table, Lord was written by John Cennick and music by Genevan Psalter.
John Cennick was born and raised in Reading, Berkshire, in the year 1717. He began to be acquainted with Wesley and Whitefield, and sermonized in the Methodist connection. On the detachment of Wesley and Whitefield he joined the latter. In the year 1745, he joined himself to the Moravians, and made a tour in Germany to fully acquaint himself with the Moravian teachings. He afterwards ministered in Dublin, and in the north of Ireland. He passed away in London, in the year 1755, and was buried in the Moravian Cemetery, Chelsea. He was the author of many songs of praises, a few of which are to be found in every collection.
Cennick, John, a prolific and triumphant song of praise writer, was descended from a family of Quakers, but brought up in the Church of England. He assisted J. Wesley and then G. Whitefield in their labors for a time, and then passed over to, and passed away as a minister of, the Moravian Church. Born at Reading, December 12, 1718, he was for some time a land surveyor at Reading, but becoming acquainted with the Wesleys in the year 1739, he was assigned by J. Wesley as a professor of a school for colliers' children at Kingswood in the following year. This was followed by his beginning to be a lay preacher, but in the year 1740 he separated from the Wesleys on doctrinal grounds. He supported Whitefield until the year 1745, when he joined the Moravians, and was ordained deacon, in London, in the year 1749. His tasks led him twice to Germany and also to the North of Ireland. He passed away in London, July 4, 1755. In addition to some prose works, and a few sermons, he produced:— (1) Blessed Songs of Praises, for the Children of God in the Days of their Journey, Lond., J. Lewis, n.d. (2nd ed. Lond., B. Milles, 1741), Pts. ii., iii., 1742; (2) Sacred Songs of Praises for the Use of Religious Societies, &c, Bristol, F. Farley, 1743; (3) A Collection of Sacred Songs of Praises, &c, Dublin, S. Powell, 3rd ed., 1749; (4) Hymns to the honor of Jesus Christ, composed for such Little Children as want to be protected. Dublin, S. Powell, in the year 1754. Additional songs of praises from his manuscripts were produced by his son-in-law, the Reverend J. Swertner, in the Moravian Hymn Book, year 1789, of which he was the editor. There are also 16 of his songs of praises in his Sermons, 2 volumes, 1753-4, any being old songs of praises rewritten, and others new.
Numerous of Cennick's songs of praises are widely known, as, "Lo, He cometh,innumerable trumpets;" “Brethren, let us join to bless;" "Jesus, my all, to heaven is gone;" "Children of the heavenly King;" "Ere I sleep, for every favor;" "We sing to Thee, Thou Son of God;" and the Graces: " Be present at our table, Lord;" and "We thank Thee, Lord;" &c. Any of the stanzas of his hymns are very fine, but the songs of praises taken as a whole are not equal. A few excellent centos might be gathered from his various works. His devout experiences were given as a preface to his Sacred Songs of Praises, year 1741.
Before the Protestant Reformation a chosen group of performers commonly sang the psalms throughout church services, not the whole congregation. John Calvin believed that the whole congregation should cooperate in worshiping God in the praise service and already in his popular work Institutes of the Christian Religion of the year 1536 he speaks of the significance of singing psalms. In the articles for the organization of the church and its praise in Geneva, dated January 16, 1537, John Calvin writes: "it is a thing most effective for the edification of the church to sing any psalms in the form of public worship by which one talks to God or sing His praises so that the hearts of all may be awakened and encouraged to make the same prayers and to render the same worships and thanks to God with a conventional love." For this reason he desired to make a songbook of songs of praise based on the psalms in the faith that in this form these spiritual texts would begin to be more easily attainable to people.
After being obliged to vacate Geneva in the year 1538, John Calvin settled in Strasbourg, where he joined the Huguenot congregation and also led many praise and worship services. It was in Strasbourg, where he began to be familiarized with the German versification of the psalms prepared by Martin Luther and others. Calvin shared these melodies with his French congregation and also listed some metrical versification for them himself. Considering his own versions of the psalms not to be of high enough quality, he turned to the French court poet Clément Marot, who had already composed most of the psalms in French throughout the first part of the 16th century.
The Genevan Psalter is typically used within the Calvinist churches. One effect is that most of the singing in Calvinist churches is done in unison. Harmonies and instrumental performances were predominantly used within the house or for concert performances. Therefore the number of musical presentations based on the Genevan Psalm songs is far smaller than those based on the church music of other traditions. The most well-known harmonies based on the Genevan psalter are the four-part choral performances composed by Claude Goudimel. Less known are the compositions of Claude Le Jeune from similar era and the presentations of Clément Janequin and Paschal de l'Estocart. The Dutch songwriter Jan Sweelinck listed motets for 4 to 8 voices for all the psalms, a few of them through-composed including all verses, as well as a number of psalm forms for organ. Anthonie van Noordt, another Dutch composer, wrote organ works in the same style based on these tunes. Orlando di Lasso cooperatively with his son Rodolpho wrote three-part performances of the psalms by Caspar Ulenberg, whose melodies were mainly based on the Genevan tunes. In North-Germany, Sweelinck's student Paul Siefert created two volumes of psalm motets.