A third on the road (website only)

Festivals and Seasons:
Elements of Worship:
Authors & translators:
David, Caroline

emmaus-the-supper-at-emmaus-by-roy-de-maistre1 Such fear in the streets, terror given free reign
with justice and mercy both mocked and made vain
We'd brothers gone missing, and sisters to ground
We took nothing with us, in haste we left town

2 There came alongside us a third on the road
He travelled beside us the while as we strode
We knew not his name and nor did he say
Nor where he was going so early that day

3 He asked of our troubles that well he might guess
Impertinent stranger, we talked none the less
Of death in the city, of murder set free
Of desperate rumours too wild to believe

4 This traveller unscrolled us his heart as we went
And true hope foretold us to spark from descent
He burnished the miles and the soles of our feet
At nightfall we begged him stay with us and eat

5 We sat down together at table all three
Soft from our eyes fell the grave-cloths of grief
He blessed and broke bread in great handfuls of light
Then like dew on the morning, he slipped loose of night.

Repeat v2


Words: © 2021 Caroline David

Tune: Originally written with the traditional tune “She Moved Through The Fair” in mind. In this revised version, to be sung, at the suggestion of John Bell, with “Columcille” (StF 308): an Irish melody arranged by Marty Haugen to accompany his own Emmaus hymn, “On the journey to Emmaeus”.

Metre: Irregular.

(Note in particular, in the final line of v5, two syllables fit to the first two semi-quavers (“Then the”), rather than one syllable as in the previous verses.)


Ideas for use

This text reworks the story Luke tells in Luke 24: 13-35, usually read on one of the Sundays following Easter. However, in their evocation of the fear and uncertainty experienced by Jesus’ disciples immediately following his crucifixion, Caroline David’s words create a setting against which all the post-Easter events take place, and in which the generous presence of the risen Christ takes centre stage.

This makes the hymn an ideal text to read (or sing) as part of any small group discussion or Bible study seeking to understand the impact of Easter on the disciples and on us. It could also be used as the basis for creative movement or acting-out of this familiar story.

More information

The StF hymn submissions group discovered in this hymn a freshness of approach and some rather beautiful and stimulating phrase-making: the unscrolling of the heart, the burnishing of the miles, the great handfuls of light – all wonderful and inspiring. In particular the group noted the vivid sense of fear and danger in the opening verses. As one group member put it, “it adds some grit to the experience of the disciples, especially in verse 3”.   

Caroline David


Caroline has built giant dragons for Broadstairs folk week, besieged Boulogne with dragons and told spurious tales live on BBC radio. She has taken creative adventures to festivals, hospitals, churches and schools. She writes poetry, prose, drama and song, and says she “makes things happen”. Her liturgical works include weavings from The Song of Solomon; The Dream of the Rood; and Rhythmic Arts In Sacred Spaces – A Resource for CURBS Kit 11 (CURBS 2005) 

Caroline is an associate artist with Same Difference Dance, which gets people with and without disabilities to do amazing things with music. She lives in Merseyside with her civil partner, whom she met in 1999, dancing the nave of St Botolph's Aldgate in the UK’s first LGBTQ+ morris side. She says they continue to commit morris and other creative misdemeanours, “seeking expressions of faith which soften barriers and resonate with the Christ who really is for everyone”. 

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