Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Veni, Creator Spiritus (Come Holy Spirit, Creator Blest)

This hymn of the early church is often attributed to Rabanus Maurus (776-856. This attribution at least helps us to place the hymn on the time-line). Currently, the hymn is used in the Catholic Church on at least five specific occasions (vespers, or early evening; at Pentecost; at the dedication of a new church building; during the sacrament of Confirmation; and at Holy Orders, or ordination) and whenever one is seeking encounter with the Holy Spirit. Since its introduction, Catholic tradition now attributes the granting of “a partial indulgence” to the one who recites it; or, a “complete (plenary) indulgence” if recited on January 1, or during Pentecost (like an incantation to keep one’s soul from hell, or purgatory).

Let us set current tradition aside for a moment, that we may consider a few thoughts about this hymn (translated from the Latin) without distraction:

COME, Holy Spirit, Creator blest,
and in our souls take up Thy rest;
come with Thy grace and heavenly aid
to fill the hearts which Thou hast made.

O comforter, to Thee we cry,
O heavenly gift of God Most High,
O fount of life and fire of love,
and sweet anointing from above.

Thou in Thy sevenfold gifts are known;
Thou, finger of God's hand we own;
Thou, promise of the Father, Thou
Who dost the tongue with power imbue.

Kindle our sense from above,
and make our hearts o'erflow with love;
with patience firm and virtue high
the weakness of our flesh supply.

Far from us drive the foe we dread,
and grant us Thy peace instead;
so shall we not, with Thee for guide,
turn from the path of life aside.

Oh, may Thy grace on us bestow
the Father and the Son to know;
and Thee, through endless times confessed,
of both the eternal Spirit blest.

Now to the Father and the Son,
Who rose from death, be glory given,
with Thou, O Holy Comforter,
henceforth by all in earth and heaven.


The Holy Spirit is described to be The Blessed Creator; The Indweller; The Dispenser of Grace and Help; The Comforter; the Gift of God Most High; The Fount of Life and Fire of Love; the Anointing. Theology plunges deeper by mention of The Seven-fold “gifts” of the Spirit (Isaiah 11:2-5; Revelation 1:4; 4:5; Galatians 5:22-23); His delivering activity as “the finger of God’s Hand” (Luke 11:20); the Promise of God (John 14-16) and the one who gives the tongue it’s gospel power (Acts 2).

The prayer is simple: overwhelm our weakness with God’s strong love for others; deliver us from Satan and grant us peace; empower us to walk the narrow path, through the narrow gate. There is an implicit confession that we do not love God or others as we should. There is also an admission that there is an enemy of our soul, and we need deliverance from his damaging influence.

Whoever wrote the hymn (Rabanus Maurus or otherwise) recognized that reconciliation to the Father through Jesus is accomplished by the power of the Holy Spirit. He is the one who brings the spiritual dead to spiritual life. The writer also reflects that spiritual growth marks life in the Spirit, allowing His ministry to be fruitful in the one who submits and will obey Him. The supplication for love is mentioned twice in this hymn: first, by exalting the Spirit as the Fire of Love; second, by asking for an enflaming of the senses with an overflow of love.

May The Holy Spirit make us grow in love for God in Christ and may His love consume others as we submit to His love.

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