Veni Creator Spiritus. It is the great hymn of Pentecost and the great prayer of invocation for the Holy Spirit. You will hear it at the beginning of a conclave to elect a new pope. The Second Vatican Council (1962 -1965) began with this invocation. It has a place in the ordination of bishops, priests and deacons. It was sung just before the anointing and coronation of Queen Elizabeth II as it had been for every monarch since the beginning of the second millennium. Composed in the ninth century by Rhabanus Maurus (abbot and bishop) it gradually grew in popularity until it became the prayer that would be sung before every important event in the Church. It is the prayer of Pentecost – the prayer for the outpouring of the Holy Sprit.
Here is the traditional Latin plainchant version sung in one of its most natural settings – the Ordination of bishops in Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris.
This wonderful hymn is more familiarly sung in its English version, Come Holy Ghost Creator Come. It is not a very good translation so hear is a more accurate translation of the original Latin provided for us by Fr Raniero Cantalamessa, the preacher to the Pope, in his book “Come, Creator Spirit – Meditations on the Veni Creator.”
Come, Creator Spirit,
visit the minds of those who are yours;
fill with heavely grace
the hearts that you have made.
You who are named the Paraclete,
gift of God most high,
living fountain, fire, love
and anointing for the soul.
You are sevenfold in your gifts,
you are the finger of God’s right hand,
you, the Father’s solemn promise
putting words upon our lips.
Kindle a light in our senses,
pour love into our hearts,
infirmities of this body of ours
overcoming with strength secure.
The enemy drive from us away,
peace then give without delay;
with you as guide to lead the way
we avoid all cause of harm.
Grant we may know the Father through you,
and come to know the Son as well,
and may we always cling in faith
to you, the Spirit of them both.
This is the prayer of Pentecost. It is the backdrop for Fr Raniero’s masterpiece on the theology of the Holy Spirit. This book is in my humble opinion the most inspiring treatment of the Holy Spirit I have ever read. Get it today – Come, Creator Spirit – Meditations on the Veni Ceator– by liturgical Press. It is available on Amazon.
The Novena is over, Pentecost is here, let us celebrate with joy this most important and joyful feast. As I pointed out in the Newsletter today:
“After Easter and Christmas, Pentecost is the most important feast in the Church’s year. In fact, St Eusebius of Caesarea, way back in the fourth century said that Pentecost was “the greatest feast of all” because if the Holy Spirit had not come we would not be celebrating any feasts. There would be no Church! That’s how important Pentecost is! To celebrate this wonderful feast there will be a special Holy Hour today from 5.30pm. There will be the renewal of baptismal promises, prayers of invocation for the gifts of the Holy Spirit and an opportunity for people to be prayed with individually and anointed with blest oil. This will all take place in the context of adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and conclude with Benediction.”
Happy Feast Day to all,
Fr Lawrence Jones.