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Communion Sunday
The Concluding Address and The Intercessory Prayers

When this holy Sacrament, which we have once more celebrated, was observed for the first time, our Blessed Saviour and His apostles closed their observance of it by singing a hymn. And we, at the close of our Communion Service, have now done the like: and we have sung not merely a hymn like theirs, but part of the self-same hymn they sang. For as we find that our Lord conformed, in His observance of the Passover-feast, to various rules current among the Jews, though not of Divine authority, we have every reason to believe that lie did not choose another than the hymn which the Jews invariably used upon that occasion. We know that in compliance with the common usage, He reclined at His Last Supper, though at its first institution the Passover-feast was to be partaken of in haste. We know that, in compliance with the common usage, wine formed part of the feast: and that its presence indeed suggested its perpetual use in the better Passover we have witnessed to-day. And so we may conclude that the parting hymn—the very last in which the Saviour's voice ever joined in this world—was that which the Jews called the Hallel, containing the CXIIIth and five following psalms, which the authorities of the Jewish Church expressly commanded should be sung at that time. You would have said indeed, that this was no fitting occasion for a joyful hymn. You would have said that that was the season rather for earnest prayer than for cheerful praise. For the hour of parting was very near: and all of you, who have gone through times of parting, can think how heavy a weight must have been gathering upon each heart in that quiet upper-chamber as the evening was drawing on. You can think—for there was not one heart there that did not know the weakness of humanity—how all would shrink from the moment of rising, and breaking up their talk together, and going out into the cold outer gloom. The Redeemer was going forth to undergo such sorrow, such agony, as never had been felt upon this sorrowful world's face before. And as for the apostles, before them lay the pang of parting: before them lay that labour and trial which never should end but with life. For we are told that * when they had sung a hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives.'

And it seems to me, dear friends, that we, at the close of our Communion Service, have something like that to do. Our Lord went forth to the quiet of the mount of Olives first: but in a little while He was to come to the place called Gethsemane, where He was to endure His agony, where He was to be found by His betrayer, whence He was to be led away to the judgment-hall and to the cross. So that to say that when the parting hymn was sung, He and His apostles went out to the mount of Olives, is to say that from the peaceful chamber, after those last notes of praise, He and they went out to all that lay before them. It was like the little bark, that from some sheltered nook where it was lying quiet and safe, puts out unwillingly into the full fury of winds and waves. And we, my friends, have just the same to do. We have been enjoying something more than an ordinary Lord’s Day. It has been not merely that withdrawal from worldly work and care which we wish for upon every day of rest: it has been the special peace of a clay of high communion. God be thanked for whatever of rest our weary souls have known: for whatever clearer sense we have had of the kind mercy of our God, seen in the gracious face and the kindest heart of Him who died for us upon the tree. God be thanked for all that we have known of blessed elevation above the little fretting concerns of sense and time; for whatever glimpse of the perfect peace of perfect faith and trust in Jesus has come like sunshine upon our care-worn hearts. But now, brethren, that we have sung our hymn, we must go forth as to the mount of Olives. We must take again to the rough and perplexing path. We must go forth from the Mount of Ordinances, into the worry of daily life again.

It is but for a short space that, by the make of our being, our best and purest feelings and enjoyments last: and the meditations of a Communion Sunday must soon be exchanged for ordinary toils. Each of you knows the task that awaits him: the labour, the sorrow, the parting, the trouble, —the rough hill that we must set ourselves to climb, after we quit these walls. We are going out to duty, to temptation, to care and sorrow: perhaps to bereavement and death. Yet it is very meet and right that even in that prospect we should do as our Saviour and His apostles did in presence of one far darker; and lift up the voice of praise, of joyful praise, as well as draw humbly near to our Father's footstool with the voice of prayer. It is meet that we should heartily bless God for His mercies past, as we ask that He would bless us in time to come. Yea, it is meet that we should take encouragement from the past, to hope for the future: that we should trust that merciful Saviour who gave us a peaceful hour at His Table, to give us His own peace, not like the world's, in our pilgrimage path : that we should praise Almighty God at the close of our Communion Service, in words which our Saviour and His apostles sang after this Sacrament was instituted at the first.

‘The Lord hath been mindful of us; He will bless us: He will bless the house of Israel, He will bless the house of Aaron: He will bless them that fear the Lord, both small and great!'

The greater the peace and quiet we have known in the breaking of that bread which means so much, the greater our regret that the Communion season must pass away so soon. And it is well that we are thus permitted to blend the words of thankfulness and faith. When our Redeemer arose, His parting hymn over, and went forth to the mount of Olives, He knew all things that were coming to Him: but when we go out from this church to-day, our Communion Service finished, not one of us knows certainly what things await us. Doubtless each has his hill to climb : his cross to bear. Having sung our hymn, which may be to any of us the last, we are now going forth to all that lies before us. Perhaps in some of you, even as you sang your hymn, there were the silent anticipations of something to which you must go out when you depart hence. Some may feel within the premonitions of decaying strength and life: the mortal disease, that must prevail at length, may already have begun its work: and that faintness, that weariness, that little shooting pang, may tell you that your rough, up-hill path, may be that of bodily suffering, leading painfully to the grave. Some of you may be looking forward to difficulties and complications in business,—painful, perplexing things to go through: to trials as regards your worldly estate: some may hardly know how the winter fire, how food and raiment, are to be provided : some may be anxiously thinking of the training of their little children, or of how their children of more advanced years are to be provided with an aim in life. All these things may lie before you: € In the world ye shall have tribulation/ were the Saviour’s words even to His own.

And do not fancy that it is wrong if even on the Mount of Ordinances you can hardly shut these things out from your remembrance: do not fancy that the merciful Saviour, Who 'knoweth' our frame so well, will heartlessly shut His eyes to facts which of necessity take up so great a part in the thoughts of His own. Even singing their parting hymn, I doubt not that the dull dead weight of the remembrance of whither they must go out when it was finished, was pressing upon every heart round that first table of communion. We do not sit down at the Communion Table to forget that the wilderness lies before us, but to get grace and strength for our wilderness-way. It is just because all these toils and cares are in our path, that we need so much that spiritual food of which we have to-day partaken: it is just because the hill we may have to climb is so rough and bleak, that it befits us so well to recall the loving-kindnesses of our God in the years past, and to draw comfort from them for the future, in our parting hymn. What said God's angel to Elijah, before he began his forty days' journey to Horeb? Not, Arise and eat, and forget all about your journey in the mean while: No, it was, ‘ Arise and eat, because the journey is too great for thee.' And just because the journey before you and me, dear friends, is too great for us: just because the hill before us is too steep : just because wc never can go through all these toils and trials and temptations and sorrows that are waiting for us beyond that door, in any strength or wisdom of our own : just for such reasons have we been seeking this day to feed upon Christ, and to go back to the world strong in His strength; and seeking from this Pisgah-height of purer spirituality to catch such views of the better Canaan, as we may carry with us through dusty miles over the desert, cheering us in a world which is not our rest, with happy foretastes of the world of perfect peace we are going to! Oh that the spiritual nouiishment we have this day received may sustain us better than the angels’ food did the prophet! We will not go forth in our own strength: we go in simple trust on promised grace,—grace that can suffice for all that can ever come. We look for that Blessed Spirit, Sanctifier and Comforter, Who, the parting Saviour promised, should come and fill His place. We wait for the guidance of that Heavenly Teacher: we lean upon that Almighty arm. For now the bread has been broken: the wine has been poured out: we have once again partaken of the Sacrament of the body and blood of Christ: and so, having sung our hymn, in God’s grace and strength we € go out to the mount of Olives!’

Now the God of Peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do His will, working in you that which is well-pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ s to Whom be glory, both now and ever. Amen.

Let us pray.

O blessed and Merciful God, we return to the footstool of Thy throne of grace through Thy dear Son and (as we humbly trust) by Thy Blessed Spirit, now to pray that Thou wouldst follow with Thy rich and effectual blessing the dispensation of word and sacrament in this place on this day. All praise and thanks be unto Thee, Heavenly Father, that Thou hast suffered us at this time to compass the Holy Table, and show forth our Redeemer’s death, feeding by faith on His shed blood and broken body: Graciously accept our dedication of ourselves, in so far as it was well-intended and sincere: and pardon the much unworthiness which was mingled with our holy things. Help us, in time coming, by the grace of Thy Blessed Spirit, to live mindful of our high profession: always bearing about in soul and body the dying of Thy dear Son. And grant that the spiritual food received on the Mount of Ordinances may be blest to strengthen us for our work and warfare through many coming days.

Gracious God, Father of all, Who though knowing that we are not worthy to pray even for ourselves, permittest and requirest us likewise to pray for others, hearken to us now interceding through Christ Jesus for all our brethren of mankind. We pray specially for those who specially need Thy kind remembrance: the sick, the sorrowful, the destitute, the dying: all who are in any kind of danger or peril, at home or abroad, by land or by sea. Be Thou, we pray Thee, the Shield of the stranger, the Help of the widow, the Father of the fatherless, the Friend of the friendless. But we more earnestly pray, as we most heartily wish, that Thou wouldst grant to all that knowledge of Thee and of Jesus Christ which is life eternal. Prosper all the measures which are now in operation for disseminating the knowledge of the glorious gospel throughout heathen lands: and grant that the time may soon arrive, when incense and a pure offering shall be offered unto Thee from the rising to the setting sun: when Thy kingdom shall come, and Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

We pray that the cause of religion, pure and undefiled, may prosper more and more amongst ourselves: throughout all ranks of the community, amid all sorts and conditions of men. For the sake of all, we pray that Thy blessing may rest upon the Church which Thou hast planted in this land. Be Thou for a wall of fire round about her, and the glory in the midst of her: and grant that no weapon formed against her may ever prosper. May her ministers be faithful to proclaim the truth, and wise to win souls: and while one plants and another waters, do Thou Thyself give the increase. We pray for the Holy Catholic Church of Christ: for all true Christians everywhere, by whatever name known among men. Prosper and multiply the number of such manifold. And grant that now, as in ancient days it hath been, and in all days it ought to be, the world may take knowledge of all true members of Thy Church by the mutual love they bear.

We pray for our native land, in all her interests, sacred and civil. Do Thou bless and long preserve Thy Servant our Sovereign the Queen: Albert Edward Prince of Wales, the Princess of Wales, and all the other members of the royal family. Counsel our Queen’s counsellors, and teach her senators wisdom: and guide them to such measures as Thou Thyself wilt bless, for the safety, honour, and welfare of this nation. We pray for all rulers, judges, and magistrates: specially for the magistrates of this city, and those who sit in council with them. Grant that they bear not the sword in vain: but be a terror to evil-doers and the praise of such as do well. We pray for all sorts and conditions of men: that the rich be rich in faith, and the poor poor in spirit: that the young may remember their Creator, and all their latter end. Specially we pray for the people of this congregation, and of this city and parish : grant that Thy fear be in every heart, and Thy worship in every home. Remember graciously, we humbly entreat, Thy servants in the Eldership : reward them for their work and labour of love: grant that they be ever an ensample to the flock, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.

And, rejoicing in the communion of saints, we thank and bless Thee for all Thy servants departed this world in Thy faith and love, who are now at rest with Thee in Paradise: humbly beseeching Thee so to make us partakers of their faith and good example, that we finally fail not to come to the same blessed and peaceful rest.

Be Thou with us, singing our parting hymn of praise. Teach and enable us so to do with true devotion of heart. Dismiss us with Thy blessing: carry us in safety to our homes: grant that we may spend the remainder of this day and of life in Thy fear and service. Guide us by Thy counsel while we live, and afterward receive us to Thy glory: and all this we ask for our Blessed Redeemer's sake. Amen.

After prayer, the Nunc Dimitt is is sung, as rendered metrically in Paraphrase XXXVIII.

8 Now, Lord ! according to Thy word,
let me in peace depart;
Mine eyes have Thy salvation seen,
And gladness fills my heart

9 At length my arms embrace my Lord,
Now let their vigour cease;
At last my eyes my Saviour see,
now let them close in peace.

10 This great salvation, long prepared,
and now disclosed to view,
Hath proved Thy love was constant still,
and promises were true.

11 That Sun I now behold, whose light
shall heathen darkness chase,
And rays of brightest glory pour
around Thy chosen race.

The Parting Benediction.

The peace of God, which passeth all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God, and of His Son Jesus Christ our Lord: And the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, be amongst you, and remain with you always. Amen.

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