Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Veni Sancte Spiritus

Below are .gifs of an anthem we sang in May, the week before Pentecost. It's really an ancient Sequence hymn to be sung on the day of Pentecost; our Gregorian Schola sang it antiphonally - women's voices first, then men's, singing the same sequence of notes - as the Offertory. Matter of fact, I just now realized that I only know half of it: verses 1, 3, 5, 7, and 9!

Here's a little thing about the song:
"Veni Sancte Spiritus" ("Come, Holy Spirit") is the sequentia of the Mass for Pentecost, sung from Whitsunday until the Saturday following, although it is also in many Protestant hymnals. Composed of ten stanzas, this "Golden Sequence," as it's sometimes termed, is—from an hymnologist's perspective, although not a theologian's—slightly odd in being directed entirely to the third Person of the Trinity: most hymns are to the Father or the Son—there's simply more material available on which to base them. General consensus dates the hymn some time between the middle of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. The translation below is not mine, but seems decent enough, though non-literal. Although some would chafe at the Elizabethan pronoun usage, it doesn't detract overmuch.

This is the translation we used:

Holy Spirit, Lord of light,
From the clear celestial height
Thy pure beaming radiance give.

Come, thou Father of the poor,
Come with treasures which endure;
Come, thou light of all that live!

Thou, of all consolers best,
Thou, the soul's delightful guest,
Dost refreshing peace bestow.

Thou in toil art comfort sweet,
Pleasant coolness in the heat;
Solace in the midst of woe.

Light immortal, light divine,
Visit thou these hearts of thine,
And our inmost being fill.

If thou take thy grace away,
Nothing pure in man will stay;
All his good is turned to ill.

Heal our wounds, our strength renew;
On our dryness pour thy dew,
Wash the stains of guilt away.

Bend the stubborn heart and will,
Melt the frozen, warm the chill,
Guide the steps that go astray.

Thou, on us who evermore
Thee confess and thee adore,
With thy sevenfold gifts descend.

Give us comfort when we die,
Give us life with thee on high,
Give us joys that never end.


Here's an mp3 from the Brazilian monks.

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