One More Veni Creator…

I can’t let this Pentecost Sunday pass without one more magnificent version of the Veni Creator Spiritus. It is by Gustav Mahler. He wrote it at the very end of his life when he was looking for words that would be able to express “the unheard”. He reviewed all the world’s literature, including the Bible. Fr Raniero Cantalamessa, in his book, “Come Creator Spirit” tells us, “untimately, he decided upon the Veni Creator, and for it he assembled the greatest vocal and instrumental ‘ensemble’ ever attempted. The work has come to be known as the Symphony of a Thousand. The first line, Veni Creator Spiritus, contains the theme of the whole work; it is a kind of cosmic paean [ song of praise] rising wave upon wave as the various voices and instruments take up the cry. The composer wrote to a friend ‘ try to imagine the universe itself beginning to sing and let its own voice resound. What I want to hear are not simply human voices, but whirling planets and suns.’ ” This passage comes in Fr Raniero’s treatment of the Holy Spirit as the “Creator”.

Here it comes: Mahler Symphony No.8, 1st Movement, by the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain. Conducted by Sir Simon Rattle at the 2002 BBC Proms. I have written a translation for all our many viewers who speak “Manderin”.

Happy Pentecost, for the last time this year!