The Feast of the descent of the Holy Spirit falls on Sunday 31st May this year. The name ‘Pentecost’ means ’50th day’ as it is celebrated on the fiftieth day of the Easter season. Sometimes the festival is called ‘Whitsunday’ – or ‘White Sunday’, which refers to the white garments worn by the newly baptised at their Baptism during this season.
The hymn that is proper to the season of Pentecost is ‘Veni, Creator Spiritus’ – ‘Come, Holy Ghost, Our Souls Inspire’. No one really knows who actually wrote the hymn, the earliest record of it being sung is at a Synod at Rheims in 1049.
There is a tradition that the Emperor Charlemagne composed it. This tradition traces back to the narrative of one Ekkehard, a monk of St. Gallen, who wrote 1220 in his life of Saint Nolker: ‘It is told of the blessed man that one day when he went through the dormitory he listened, for there was, hard by, a mill, whose wheel was revolving very slowly for lack of water, and groaning, gave out sounds something like words. And the man of God, hearing this, straightaway was in the Spirit, and produced that most beautiful hymn, and gave utterance to the honey sweet melody from the same kind Spirit which possessed him’.
I love the idea of a dear man on hearing the dull, mechanical growling of a watermill, hears an insight into the sanctifying beauty of God. We live in difficult and anxious times – and we need the presence of God’s good Spirit to penetrate beneath the alarming surface of things, and discern, and acknowledge by our lives lived the God who ever bestows on those who ask, the real gift of becoming what love would have us be – beautiful children of our Heavenly Father.
Could you pray the words of the ‘Veni, Creator’ on Pentecost Sunday and every day of Pentecost week. Please pray this quietly, slowly and reflectively – and wait. Remember God does answer prayer – but we so seldom ask.
God bless you all and keep you safe.
‘Veni Creator’ (Hymn 138 in the English Hymnal)
Come, Holy Ghost, our souls inspire,
And lighten with celestial fire,
Thou the anointing Spirit art,
Who dost thy seven-fold gifts impart.
Thy blessed unction from above
Is comfort, life, and fire of love;
Enable with perpetual light
The dullness of our blinded sight:
Anoint and cheer our soiled face
With the abundance of thy grace:
Keep far our foes, give peace at home:
Where thou art guide no ill can come.
Teach us to know the Father, Son,
And thee, of Both, to be but One,
That through the ages all along
This may be our endless song.
Praise to thy eternal merit,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.