URC Daily Devotion for Pentecost

Come Holy Ghost Our Souls Inspire

Come, Holy Ghost, our souls inspire,
and lighten with celestial fire.
Thou the anointing Spirit art,
who dost thy sevenfold 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 from 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.

Listen to the hymn here.
 

(Rabanus Maurus ninth century; trans. John Cosin, 1627)

Reflection

This hymn, from the 9th Century, is attributed to the German monk Rabanus Maurus who was a Biblical commentator and became Abbot at the monastery at Fulda in Germany.  John Cosin, the translator, was an Anglican priest who was deposed under the Commonwealth but became Bishop of Durham after the restoration of the monarchy.  

This hymn is often sung at ordinations – and is included in Rejoice and Sing – but isn’t well known in the URC despite the haunting plainsong tune which is easy to learn and well worth knowing.

The hymn is a beautiful prayer to the Holy Spirit – who is often neglected in churches.  The Spirit’s blessing is, to us, “comfort, life and fire of love.”  The evocative second verse reminds us of the precariousness of life which, thankfully, we don’t experience in Western Europe now the way many in our world do and in the way that Maurus would have done in a much more dangerous age.  The Spirit is urged to teach us about the Father that we may sing for ever in praise of the Three-in-One.  

The song is one I love not just because of its antiquity and haunting Plainsong tune (best sung a cappella), nor because of its resonance with ordination (and papal elections) but because it reminds us of the power of the Spirit sustaining the Church and believers through the ages that we may better know God and better sing the praises of the Divine.  

The hymn unites us with our past and reminds us of our vocation – to live and sing the praises of Almighty God.

 

Prayer

Holy Spirit,
fire of Divine love,
anoint and cheer us,
that we may sing God’s praise,
with our lips, heart and action,
now and forever,
Amen.

Today’s Writer

Andy Braunston is a minister-elect of the Glasgow Southside Cluster and co-ordinator of the URC Daily Devotions project.

Bible Version

 

New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Bible: © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved

Copyright © 2017 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.