Hymn: “Come, Holy Ghost, God and Lord”

Two weeks ago (tomorrow) was Pentecost. So today I’d like to talk about one of my favorite hymns that is especially suitable for that holiday—the hymn, in fact, that I had particularly in mind when I began this series.

Come, Holy Ghost, God and Lord!
Be all Thy graces now outpoured
On each believer’s mind and heart;
Thy fervent love to them impart.
Lord, by the brightness of Thy light
Thou in the faith dost men unite
Of every land and every tongue;
This to Thy praise, O Lord, our God, be sung.
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

Thou holy Light, Guide divine,
Oh, cause the Word of Life to shine!
Teach us to know our God aright
And call Him Father with delight.
From every error keep us free;
Let none but Christ our Master be
That we in living faith abide,
In Him, our Lord, with all our might confide.
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

Thou holy Fire, Comfort true,
Grant us the will Thy work to do
And in Thy service to abide;
Let trials turn us not aside.
Lord, by Thy power prepare each heart
And to our weakness strength impart
That bravely here we may contend,
Through life and death to Thee, our Lord, ascend.
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

I first encountered this hymn the one year I was still in my college residence at Pentecost; the third verse was used as the closing song in my church there for that and subsequent Sundays. When I returned home, I looked through all our hymnals, trying to find that text, without success, until I finally found the complete hymn in a somewhat old (1941) Lutheran hymnal.

The music that this text is usually sung to is somewhat … difficult … compared to the regularized tunes we have become used to these past few centuries (part of it is that measures are not of a consistent length), but once I got past the awkwardness of the unfamiliar style I found it both charming and uplifting. And much of the irregularity of the tune comes, I suspect, from the slightly irregular meter of the text, which I wouldn’t wish to give up (the obvious words to cut are important ones to the sense of the hymn).

This hymn, slightly altered (to regularize the meter, modernize pronouns, and so on), “retuned” (set to a tune newly written for it), is also on the Cardiphonia collection of Pentecost Songs (which I highly recommend for some of its other songs).

Of the three verses, while I came across the last one first, I think my favorite is the second. I’m very fond of the end of the first and last verses, but everything in the second verse rings true to me.

Any thoughts? And do you have a favorite Pentecost or Trinity hymn?

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