Rector's Reflections - 13 May

Rector’s Reflections

Monday 13th May 2024

Come, Holy Ghost, Our Souls Inspire

For those of you who follow the Church’s year, it will not have escaped your attention that this coming Sunday will be Pentecost,  the feast on which we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit to the apostles, gathered together in Jerusalem.

What might it mean for us to pray for the coming of the Holy Spirit into our own lives? To help us to think about this question, I’m going to share some reflections on  the words of the hymn, “Come, Holy Ghost, our souls inspire”. In the version of the hymn given in the New English Hymnal, the text reads as follows:


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 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.


By way of background, this hymn is based on a Latin hymn, Veni, creator Spiritus,  which was very popular in the Mediaeval Church. The English version which I have quoted was written by a 17th century clergyman, John Cosin, who in due course became Bishop of Durham. Cosin’s version has become a much loved part of the traditional Anglican liturgy for the Ordination of Priests and the Consecration of Bishops, and is still used today. It is also used more generally, whenever it is felt particularly appropriate to invoke the coming of the Holy Spirit.

Cosin’s hymn has much to teach us about the Holy Spirit, and we will look in detail at each verse in the days ahead.

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