Monday, January 23, 2006

Veni, Creator Spiritus

I have never ceased to be awed by the sheer beauty of its expressive lyrics, as well as its exquisite melody. This hymn is, in my own humble opinion, perhaps the most magnificent the Western Church has produced in its long history.

In this day and age where the Holy Spirit has been relegated to the role of a mere assistant especially in most Protestant churches, this hymn stands out as being one that truly recognises the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of life, is together with the Father and the Son is worshipped and glorified.

The beauty and complexity of its lyrics coupled with the soft and emotional tune is more than enough to make it prominent among the other Latin hymns. Many who have listened to it have told me how this simple hymn always manages to raise their spirits. Personally, I feel this hymn is too unique to be sung in anything but Latin – but of course, that is just how I, a devout Latinist, feel. The English lyrics fit in with the tune perfectly, though.

To the Orthodox who think that I should not be listening to Latin music – this hymn was written almost a century before the Great Schism, so technically, just as Western saints canonised before the Schism are recognised also in the Eastern Church, so are its hymns. Just as Slavic hymns greatly differ from Byzantine ones, so one should expect those from the West to be different from the ones found in the East. Also – listening to Latin music won’t make me Catholic! ‘nuff said.

VENI, Creator Spiritus,
mentes tuorum visita,
imple superna gratia
quae tu creasti pectora.

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.

Qui diceris Paraclitus,
altissimi donum Dei,
fons vivus, ignis, caritas,
et spiritalis unctio.

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.

Tu, septiformis munere,
digitus paternae dexterae,
Tu rite promissum Patris,
sermone ditans guttura.

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.

Accende lumen sensibus:
infunde amorem cordibus:
infirma nostri corporis
virtute firmans perpeti.

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.

Hostem repellas longius,
pacemque dones protinus:
ductore sic te praevio
vitemus omne noxium.

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.

Per te sciamus da Patrem,
noscamus atque Filium;
Teque utriusque Spiritum
credamus omni tempore.

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.

Deo Patri sit gloria,
et Filio, qui a mortuis
surrexit, ac Paraclito,
in saeculorum saecula.

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.

One of the most widely used hymns in the Western Church before the reforms of 1962 – Veni, Creator Spiritus (Come Holy Spirit, Creator Blest), is attributed to Rabanus Maurus (776-856). It is used at Vespers, Pentecost, the Dedication of a Church, Confirmation, Holy Orders and whenever the Holy Spirit is solemnly invoked.

Lyrics/info: Thesaurus Precum Latinarum


Blogger Ian said...

It's one of my favourite hymns too.

[And I still listen to "Western" hymns: even post-Schism ones. Plenty of good stuff there.]

Mon Jan 23, 09:25:00 am 2006  
Blogger Mimi said...

What a beautiful hymn, thanks for posting it.

I'm with Ian, "Western" hymns are fine. Especially my favorite, Western Christmas hymns.

Tue Jan 24, 03:05:00 am 2006  

Post a Comment

<< Home