Sunday, May 27, 2012


Today is the Christian feast of Pentecost, which is probably the third-most-significant day on the Christian calendar (Easter is a pretty clear #1, and Christmas is #2, altho in the popular culture-at-large, Christmas gets way more airplay). In virtually all Christian traditions, Pentecost celebrates The Sending of the Holy Spirit; in some of the more ancient traditions (certainly Catholicism), it also celebrates The Birthday of the church. Either way, it's a big deal.

(I know that there is also a Jewish feast of Pentecost; if I have any Jewish readers, I'd love for you to enlighten me as to the nature of Pentecost in Jewish observance).

An ancient Hymn of Pentecost:

VENI, Sancte Spiritus,
et emitte caelitussend
lucis tuae radium.

Veni, pater pauperum,
veni, dator munerum
veni, lumen cordium.

Consolator optime,
dulcis hospes animae,
dulce refrigerium.

In labore requies,
in aestu temperies
in fletu solatium.

O lux beatissima,
reple cordis intima
tuorum fidelium.

Sine tuo numine,
nihil est in homine,
nihil est innoxium.

Lava quod est sordidum,
riga quod est aridum,
sana quod est saucium.

Flecte quod est rigidum,
fove quod est frigidum,
rege quod est devium.

Da tuis fidelibus,
in te confidentibus,
sacrum septenarium.

Da virtutis meritum,
da salutis exitum,
da perenne gaudium,


(In English:)

Come, Holy Spirit,
And send out from heaven
Your radiant light.

Come, father of the poor,
Come, giver of gifts,
Come, light of our hearts.

Best consoler,
Sweet guest of the soul,
Sweetness of cool refreshment.

Rest in labor,
Relief in heat,
Consolation in weeping.

O most blessed light,
Fill the center of the hearts
Of your faithful.

Without your divine power,
There is nothing in humans,
Nothing is innocent.

Wash what is soiled,
Water what is dry,
Heal what is wounded.

Bend what is rigid,
Warm what is chilled,
Guide what is astray.

Give to your faithful,
Who trust in you,
The seven sacred gifts.

Give the reward of virtue,
Give the goal of salvation,
Give eternal joy.


  1. "Sweet guest of the soul"... I love this. Thank you so much for sharing it.

  2. Thanks Craig.
    I think anyone who's had any kind of spiritual experience can relate to that hymn.

  3. Kay - Thanks; my pleasure. . .

    Skip - I'm not sure exactly how ancient this is, but I love the idea that I'm touching the same spiritual reality as people centuries ago. . .

  4. Not that I'm Jewish myself, but Pentecost is the Jewish commemoration of the giving of the Law on Mount Sinai. Thus the Christian Pentecost also celebrates the giving of the New Law of grace, written upon the heart by the Holy Ghost. Pax!

  5. John - Thanks! Those 'linkages' between Christianity and our Jewish heritage are incredibly cool!

  6. How'd I miss this post?

    Curiously while I have always regarded Pentecost and its significance, the local churches really kine wrap it up together with Easter and treat them as the same event, almost as a post-script. Kinda curious.

    "Bend what is rigid,
    Warm what is chilled,
    Guide what is astray."

    Wise words, those are ....

  7. Xavier - Well, I hardly ever post on consecutive days; that probably threw you off. . . ;)

    In my experience, different churches will have their own points of emphasis, where Pentecost is concerned. The Catholic Church tends to focus on the 'birthday of the Church', or things relating to the sacrament of Confirmation - ie, empowerment for mission. And of course, the Pentecostal churches have their own unique take on it. . .

    Those ancient hymns can be real treasure-troves of wisdom and insight. . .