Come, Let Us Eat

Author (st. 1-3): Billema Kwillia

Billema Kwillia is a Liberian convert to Christianity and a literacy teacher-evangelist in that country. Go to person page >

Author (st. 4): Gilbert E. Doan

Born: Sep­tem­ber 14, 1930, Beth­le­hem, Penn­syl­van­ia. Doan was ed­u­cat­ed at Har­vard Un­i­ver­si­ty (BA 1942); Lu­ther­an The­o­lo­gi­cal Sem­in­a­ry (BD 1955); the Un­i­ver­si­ty of Penn­syl­van­ia (MA 1962, though he re­turned it to the school to pro­test their po­lic­ies); and Wag­ner Col­lege (DD, late 1970s). He served as a cam­pus pas­tor in Phil­a­del­phia, Penn­syl­van­ia (1955-61); North­east­ern Di­rect­or of the Na­tion­al Lu­ther­an Cam­pus Min­is­try; and pastor of the Lu­ther­an Church of the Ho­ly Com­mun­ion, Phil­a­del­phia (1984-95). His works in­clude: The Preach­ing of Fred­er­ick W. Ro­bert­son (ed­it­or), 1964 Renewal in the Pu… Go to person page >

Translator (st. 1-3): Margaret D. Miller

(no biographical information available about Margaret D. Miller.) Go to person page >

Text Information

First Line: Come, let us eat, for now the feast is spread
Title: Come, Let Us Eat
Original Language: Loma
Author (st. 1-3): Billema Kwillia
Translator (st. 1-3): Margaret D. Miller (1969, alt.)
Author (st. 4): Gilbert E. Doan
Language: English
Copyright: St. 4 © 1972 Contemporary Worship 4, admin. Augsburg Fortress;; St. 1-3 © The Lutheran World Federation


Billema Kwillia (b. Liberia, c. 1925) composed both the text and the tune of this hymn during the 1960s when he was a literacy teacher and evangelist. The text's rather cryptic phrases highlight central themes of the Lord's Supper. Stanzas 1 and 2 issue the invitation "Come. . . ," stanza 3 draws us into an appropriate meditative mood in the Lord's presence, and stanza 4 dismisses us with the reminder to "spread abroad God's mighty Word."

A speaker of the Loma language, Kwillia learned to read the language as an adult through a church literacy program. In the early 1960s he became a literacy teacher himself. After being baptized as a Christian, he served as a preacher and evangelist.

The text and tune of this hymn were originally transcribed from a recorded church service. Margaret D. Miller (b. Clifton Springs, NY, 1927) translated stanzas 1 through 3 from the Loma language into English in 1969, and that translation was first published in 1970 in the Lutheran World Federation hymnal Laudamus (4th ed.). Miller was educated at the Lankenau School for Girls in Philadelphia while her widowed mother served as a missionary in Liberia. After graduation from college, Miller followed her mother's example and became a missionary in Liberia, serving there as a literacy worker and translator of the Wozi language as well as an editor of the bilingual Loma newspaper, Weekly. She has done graduate work in linguistics and anthropology at the Hartford Seminary Foundation, Hartford, Connecticut.

Gilbert E. Doan (b. Bethlehem, PA, 1930) added stanza 4 prior to the hymn's publication in the Lutheran hymnal Contemporary Worship-4 (1972). A prominent Lutheran clergyman, Doan served as campus pastor in Philadelphia from 1955 to 1961. He was northeastern director for the National Lutheran Campus Ministry from 1961 to 1984 and more recently was pastor of the Lutheran Church of the Holy Communion, Philadelphia. A graduate of Harvard College (B.A. in geology) and Lutheran Theological Seminary, Philadelphia (D .B.), he also received a master's degree in American civilization from the University of Pennsylvania. He has written Renewal in the Pulpit (1966), edited The Preaching of Frederick W Robertson (1964), and was chair of the hymn texts committee of the Inter-Lutheran Commission on Worship (1967-1978).

Liturgical Use:
Lord's Supper-sing stanzas 1 through 3 during distribution of the bread and wine, and sing stanza 4 as a dismissal after the sacrament.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook



The tune title A VA DE is the incipit of Kwillia's original text in the Loma language. “Come, Let Us Eat” is an excellent choice for congregations that celebrate communion with various groups of people coming forward to stand or sit around the Lord's Table (in the Old Dutch Reformed manner). The…

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Instances (1 - 16 of 16)Text InfoTune InfoTextScoreFlexScoreAudioPage Scan
Church Hymnary (4th ed.) #660
Common Praise (1998) #62
Evangelical Lutheran Worship #491
Glory to God: the Presbyterian Hymnal #528Text InfoAudio
Halle Halle: We Sing the World Round #34
Hymnal Supplement II #21
Lutheran Service Book #626
Moravian Book of Worship #423
Psalter Hymnal (Gray) #303Text InfoTune InfoAudio
Renew! #197
Small Church Music #2873Audio
The Covenant Hymnal: a worshipbook #553
The United Methodist Hymnal #625
The United Methodist Hymnal Music Supplement #2
The United Methodist Hymnal Music Supplement #3
Worship and Rejoice #694
Include 1 pre-1979 instance