842

I Am the Bread of Life

Scripture References

Further Reflections on Scripture References

Stanzas 1-3 and the refrain are words of Jesus from the Gospel of John, and the final stanza gives voice to our confession of faith. This song text has been translated into over twenty languages. 

Confessions and Statements of Faith References

Further Reflections on Confessions and Statements of Faith References

The Belgic Confession and Heidelberg Catechism join with the words of Christ from John 6, and point to the nourishment to eternal life. Belgic Confession, Article 35 calls this the “…living bread that came down from heaven.” Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 29, Question and Answer 79 says the bread is the sure food “of our souls for eternal life.”
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I Am the Bread of Life

Additional Prayers

A Prayer of Thanksgiving
Creative God, giver of life, we give you thanks that you called us into being, knitting us together in our mother’s wombs. At every stage of life you have been the constant loving presence that overshadowed us with care. For us and for our salvation you provided your Son, the bread of life, so that we shall not hunger and thirst again. For your life-giving love, we thank and praise you in Jesus’ name. Amen.
— Cornelius Plantinga, Jr.
842

I Am the Bread of Life

Tune Information

Name
I AM THE BREAD
Key
A Major
Meter
irregular
842

I Am the Bread of Life

Hymn Story/Background

Stanzas 1-3 and refrain are the words of Jesus from the Gospel of John, and the final stanza gives voice to our confession of faith. This song text has been translated into over twenty languages.
 
The shifting word placement on the first three stanzas is challenging for a congregation, and since these words are quotations of Jesus, a single voice would be best. Let the accompaniment here be restrained.
 
Conversely, the refrain is easy to learn; our spirits soar with rising melody, so let the accompaniment start modestly and then grow with each repetition until the final majestic statement of promise. Sing in harmony and add strings or brass if you have them. Choose a steady tempo that can carry both the comfort and commitment of the stanzas as well as the rising majesty of the refrain. 

Author Information

Suzanne Toolan (b. 1927) is an internationally-known composer of liturgical music. Since 1981 she has been involved with the Merc Center, a spirituality center in the San Francisco Bay Area. 

Composer Information

Betty Carr Pulkingham (b. North Carolina, 1928) was born and educated in North Carolina, receiving a Bachelor of Science in Music in 1949. Following graduate studies at the Eastman School of Music she became an Instructor in Music Theory at the University of Texas, a post she held for four years. Her musical career has included direction of choirs (church, school, and secular), including seven years as choir director at Church of the Redeemer in Houston, Texas, where her late husband, The Rev. Graham Pulkingham, served as rector. They were parents of six children, and became founding members of the Community of Celebration. During the years of the Community's residence in Great Britain (1074-85) Betty had a primary role in the development of resources for Christian worship and nurture.
 
She has co-edited three contemporary songbooks: Sound of Living Waters, Fresh Sounds, and Cry Hosanna!, as well as a hymnal supplement, Come Celebrate! for major publishers in the U.K and the U.S.A. Her other published works include two books: Little Things in the Hands of a Big God, and Sing God a Simple Song; a responsorial psalter for Years A, B, and C; hymns and octavo anthems; music for children; and four settings of service music for the Eucharist. She has helped produce more than forty recordings and has served on the Episcopal Church's Standing Commission on Church Music.
A significant aspect of Betty Pulkingham's teaching ministry in music and worship has been the ability to blend successfully the discipline of traditional, classical musicianship with the folk arts in a manner which draws congregations into a deepened and lively experience of worship. In 2006 she was awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters from the Protestant Episcopal Theological Seminary in Virginia; and in 1997 she received the degree of Doctoris in Sacris Litteris from Wycliff College of the University of Toronto.
 
Since 1993 Betty Pulkingham has made her home in Burlington, North Carolina, where, in 1996 she married Herbert Wendell, with whom she shared oversight of the care of her aging mother and aunt until his death in 2001. She is a Companion of the Community of Celebration in Aliquippa, PA.