What Is This Place (AOV 1/132)

A traditional Dutch hymn of anabaptist origin apparently. Not surprisingly, there some Catholic buzz on the net saying it is heretical. Considering Catholics used to drown anabaptists (hows that for baptism) its hardly surprising, but set decorators aren’t going to like an earthen floor, or being told we “are each other’s bread and wine.” I’d be happy to just see it pointing towards the real presence myself, but I’m probably a heretic too.

It can be purchased for download at OCP.

Even the short snippet at AOV gives you an idea what a stirring hymn it is. My backing – not so much.

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Verse 1

What is this place, where we are meeting?

Only a house, the earth its floor.

Walls and a roof, sheltering people,

Windows for light, an open door.

Yet it becomes a body that lives

When we are gathered here,

And know our God is near.

Verse 2

Words from afar, stars that are falling.

Sparks that are sown in us like seed;

Names for our God, dreams, signs and wonders

Sent from the past are all we need.

We in this place remember and speak

Again what we have heard:

God’s free redeeming word.

Verse 3

And we accept bread at his table,

Broken and shared, a living sign.

Here in this world, dying and living,

We are each other’s bread and wine.

This is the place where we can receive

What we need to increase:

Our justice and God’s peace.

© TEAM Publications 1984.

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4 Responses to What Is This Place (AOV 1/132)

  1. Jarrett says:

    Hello! Oddly enough, even though many Anabaptist churches use this hymn, it was actually written by a Hubertus Oosterhuis, a Jesuit priest. The Catholics who call it heretical are mostly the grumpy kind who would like to do away with Vatican II if they could. Thanks for the post!

  2. Greg Bowman says:

    I’m a mainstream Mennonite. This beloved song is the first (#1) in Hymnal: A Worship Book, the most recent hardcover hymnal used broadly within Mennonite Church USA congregations.
    RE: heretical… Not so much, with this line:
    “And we accept bread at his table,
    Broken and shared, a living sign.”
    … but maybe imaginative with being each other’s “bread and wine.”
    This is a song that, when sung robustly and with joy, kicks off a service in a powerful way.

  3. Margaret says:

    I agree with others – this is a Wonderful processional hymn. Our organist plays it with zest and fervor and the choir and congregation join robustly in praise!

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