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Pentecost Hymn:
Veni Creator Spiritus

by Rev. Matthew Britt, OSB
Saint Martin's Abbey, Lacey WA

This article comes from the book, The Hymns of the Breviary and Missal, published in 1924 by Benziger Brothers, Printers to the Holy Apostolic See.

Holy Spirit window in Saint Peter's Basilica

Pentecost Hymn

VENI Creator Spiritus,
Mentes tuorum visita,
Imple superna gratia,
Quae tu creasti pectora.

2 Qui diceris Paraclitus,
Altissimi donum Dei,
Fons vivus, ignis, caritas,
Et spiritalis unctio.

3 Tu septiformis munere,
Digitus paternæ dexteræ,
Tu rite promissum Patris,
Sermone ditans guttura.

4 Accende lumen sensibus:
Infunde amorem cordibus:
Infirma nostri corporis
Virtute firmans perpeti.

5 Hostem repellas longius,
Pacemque dones protinus:
Ductore sic te prævio,
Vitemus omne noxium.

6 Per te sciamus da Patrem
Noscamus atque Filium
Teque utriusque Spiritum
Credamus omni tempore.

7 Deo Patri sit gloria,
Et Filio, quia mortuis
Surrexit, ac Paraclito
In sæculorum sæcula. Amen.

Come, visit every soul of Thine,
And fill with Thy celestial flame
The hearts which Thou Thyself didst frame.

O gift of God,Thine is the sweet
Consoling name of Paraclete –
And spring of life and fire of love
And unction flowing from above.

The mystic seven-fold gifts are Thine,
Finger of God's right hand divine;
The Father's promise sent to teach
The tongue a rich and heavenly speech.

Kindle with fire brought from above
Each sense, and fill our hearts with love;
And grant our flesh, so weak and frail,
The strength of Thine which cannot fail.

Drive far away our deadly foe,
And grant us Thy true peace to know;
So we, led by Thy guidance still,
May safely pass through every ill.

To us, through Thee, the grace be shown
To know the Father and the Son;
And Spirit of Them both, may we
For ever rest our faith in Thee.

To Sire and Son be praises meet,
And to the Holy Paraclete;
And may Christ send us from above
That Holy Spirit's gift of love.

AUTHOR: Probably Rabanus Maurus (716-856)

METER: Iambic dimeter ( / = accent)

x / x / x / x /
x / x / x / x /
x / x / x / x /
x / x / x / x /

TRANSLATION by Fr. Aylward, OP.
There are about sixty translations, eight of which are in the Annus Sanctus

LITURGICAL USE: Hymn for Vespers and Terce on Pentecost and throughout the octave. Terce (the 3rd hour, 9:00 am) was the hour on which the Holy Ghost descended upon the Apostles [Acts 2:15]. The hymn is used on many other solemn occasions in liturgical and extra-liturgical functions as an invocation to the Holy Spirit. With the exception of the Te Deum, there is probably no other hymn so extensively used in the Church as the Veni Creator Spiritus.

The authorship has been variously ascribed to Rabanus Maurus, Charlemagne, Saint Ambrose, and to Saint Gregory the Great.

Notes on each verse:

  1. "Come, Creator Spirit, visit the souls of Thy children, and fill with heavenly grace the hearts which Thou hast made."
    Creator: The three Divine Persons concur equally in their external operation; thus the Father created, the Son created, and the Holy Ghost created.
  2. "And Thou art called the Paraclete, the gift of God most high, the living fountain, fire, love, and spiritual unction."
    Paraclitus: the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit; a Greek word signifying — the consoler, comforter. In the Scriptures the word occurs only in Saint John 14:16; 14:26; 15:26; 16:7.
    Donum: The Holy Spirit is called the "gift of God most high." To receive the gift of the Holy Ghost [Acts 2:38] is equivalent to receiving the Holy Ghost with his gifts.
    Fons vivus: Sed aqua, quam ego dabo ei, fiet in eo fons aquæ salientis in vitam æternam / The water I give shall become a fountain within him, leaping up to provide eternal life. [John 4:14].
    Ignis: Earthly fire illuminates, enkindles, consumes, and purifies from dross; so too, in its nature, is the fire of the Holy Spirit — enlightening, love-enkindling, sin-destroying, and purifying. This fire manifests itself in works of charity, and especially in preaching with zeal and fervor the word of God.
    Caritas: Deus caritas est, et qui manet in caritate, in Deo manet, et Deus in eo / God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him [I John 4:16].
    Spiritalis = Spiritualis; The grace of God is called unction or anointing because the effects produced by it in the spiritual order are analogous to those produced by ointment in the natural order. It cools, refreshes, exhilarates, strengthens, heals, enriches, etc.
  3. "Thou art seven-fold in Thy gifts, the finger of the Father's right hand; Thou art the express promise of the Father, endowing tongues with speech."
    Septiformis: The seven gifts of the Holy Ghost are enumerated by the Prophet Isaias: Et requiescet super eum spiritus Domini; spiritus sapientiæ et intellectus, spiritus consilii et fortitudinis, spiritus scientiæ et pietatis, et replebit eum spiritus timoris Domini / The spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him: a spirit of wisdom and of understainding, a spirit of counsel and of strength, a spirit of knowledge and of fear of the Lord, and his delight shall be the fear of the Lord [Is 11:2-3].
    Digitus Dei: The Holy Spirit is called the "finger of God" as may be seen from the following parallel passages:

    Si in digito Dei ejicio dæmonia … / If it is by the finger of God that I cast out devils … [Lk 11:20]
    Si autem ego in Spiritu Dei ejicio dæmones … / If it is by the Spirit of God that I expel demons …[Mt 12:28]

    Rite: explicit, distinctly stated.
    Promissum, i = promissio: Et ego mitto promissum Patris mei in vos / I send down upon you the promise of my Father [Lk 24:49]. Sed expectarent promissionem Patris / Wait, rather, for the fulfillment of my Father's promise [Acts 1:4].
    Sermone: A reference to the gift of tongues [Acts 2:4] .
  4. "Enkindle Thy light within our minds, infuse Thy love into our hearts; strengthen the weakness of our flesh by Thy never-failing power."
  5. "Drive far away our enemy, and forthwith grant us peace; so that while Thou leadest the way as our guide, we may avoid everything harmful."
  6. "Grant that through Thee we may know the Father; through Thee, the Son; and may we ever believe in Thee, the Spirit of Them both."

Article posted 29 May 2017

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