McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts
Catholic-Methodist Dialogue, Congregational spirituality, Eucharistic formation, Lyrical Theology, Practical Theology, sacramental evangelism
This study examines the historical context, theological relevance and ecumenical potential of a body of theological poetry, hymn lyrics about the central Christian ritual, the Eucharist. The research is undertaken in the interest of the Roman Catholic-Methodist dialogue, a decades long conversation in which these 166 hymns have gained mutual recognition. There are three inter-connected areas explored: history, textual formation and the theological shape of lyrical poetry about the Lord's Supper. These three dimensions are brought to bear on the question of Methodist ecclesial identity and ecumenical dialogue. The study explores the significance of the relationships derived from the synthesis of the evangelical and sacramental thrust of Methodist ecclesiology. The general categories of manifestation (Catholicism) and proclamation (Protestantism) provide theoretical markers through which ecumenical understanding might develop. Lyrical poetry is construed as a bridge between these dimensions of religious experience and theology, its form is constitutive of Methodism's charism and ecclesial identity.
Lyrical poetry resembles the Eucharist itself. When enacted, both hymnody and the ritual of the Lord's Supper are ways of Eucharistic embodiment. The lyrics contain sacrificial and atonement themes which inform the current context of ecumenical recognition of Eucharistic sacrifice. Methodism can appropriate these sacrificial themes creatively to gain richer ecclesial identity. Roman Catholicism can adopt the use of these hymns in order to retrieve a liturgical enrichment to the Eucharistic prayer, namely song. Catholic culture is invited to understand music in a Eucharistic way, since it resolves tensions and harmonizes discordant tones in the Body of Christ.
Kerr, A. (2007). John and Charles Wesleys' "Hymns on the Lord's Supper" (1745): Their Meaning for Methodist Ecclesial Identity and Ecumenical Dialogue (Doctoral dissertation, Duquesne University). Retrieved from https://dsc.duq.edu/etd/739