“On a Dark and Doleful Night”


"'Twas on a dark and doleful night, When power of hell and earth arose... And friends betrayed him to his foes." "Before the mournful scheme began, He took the bread...." "This is my body broke[n] for sin." "[He] took the cup...."


The story of the Last Supper is told in all four gospels, but the institution of the Eucharist is described only in Matthew, Mark, and Luke (with a partial parallel in 1Corinthians 11:23ff.) with significant verbal variations, often with variations from what we read here.

In Matthew 26:26f., Jesus's words over the bread were simply, "Take, eat, this is my body." Of the cup, the King James version says, "Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament" (i.e. "covenant," as the song renders is, but the best manuscripts omit "new") "which is shed for many, for the remission of sins."

Mark 14:22f. is closely parallel to Mark: "This is my body... This is my blood of the covenant [again, the KJV reads"new testament," based on late manuscripts] which is shed for many."

In Luke 22:19f, we find the phrasing "This is my body which is given for you." (Note that, even here, it's not given "for sin.") The cup is "the new covenant in my blood."

In the Missouri Harmony, the first verse of this appears with the tune "Bourbon. - RBW


  1. BrownIII 626, "On a Dark and Doleful Night" (1 text)
  2. Roud #11927
  3. BI, Br3626


Author: Isaac Watts?
Earliest date: 1930 (Brown); fragment in the Missouri Harmony (1840)
Found in: US(SE)