Thursday, June 01, 2006

Pentecost hymns

In choosing hymns for this coming Sunday, I've realized something. Hymns about the Holy Spirit are generally boring. There's "The Comforter Has Come," with tune by William Kirkpatrick, but, other than that, they seem fairly sedate. I truly enjoy "Spirit of God, Descend upon My Heart," but a whole service of songs of that nature would be fairly monotonous.

Are there ones out there to which I'm just unfamiliar? Even contemporary ones I know tend to be more meditative, such as "Breathe" (my least-favorite song), or any of the river/spirit imagery songs.

I guess there is "Ev'ry Time I Feel the Spirit," although I wouldn't really consider that Pentecost. Or, I suppose the Episcopalians have some nice ones—"Hail this joyful day's return," "A mighty sound from heaven," or "Come, thou Holy Spirit bright." Also, there's a second setting of that to the tune ARBOR STREET, which I find stately but joyful, even though in a minor key (see "Jesu Meine Freude," below). And, "Hail Thee Festival Day" has its Pentecost verses (also below).

There's of course the trinitarian verses in so many hymns that mention the Holy Spirit, or the last verse of "A mighty fortress," too. Some of the "Holy Spirit" hymns in many hymnals seem to be focused rather ambiguously, such as "Spirit Song," which switches back and forth from Jesus to the Holy Spirit.

All that to say, what are we missing? It seems like Pentecost was a momentous occasion, and one that would be important for all Christians of all time. Further, I'm sure the first Pentecost was both incredibly frightening and exhilarating. What are we doing singing such flowing, gentle songs about such an event? The Holy Spirit is the Comforter, sure, but the Holy Spirit is also what has indwelled the Church.

So, what are some more appropriate hymns/songs that I don't know? Having gone to churches most of my life that never even knew when Pentecost happened through the year, have I missed out?


millinerd said...

Dale Bruner called the Spirit the "shy member of the Trinity." Considering the role of the Spirit to point to Christ, maybe a Spirit-focused hymn is not the idea.

Lance said...

I'll take that answer. But, we can't leave the Spirit out, either.

millinerd said...

True. He is, after all, God.

Anonymous said...

Lance & Matt -

'Shy' member of the Trinity? There's usually a fair amount of action and excitement when he shows up.

I think such comments are more expressive of the unease of the scholarly types. After all, he's not a tame Spirit.

<>< Ron Troup;

millinerd said...

Action, excitement, and death.

Pastor Michael Jordan said...

Lance--"Breathe" is "your least favorite song?"

I'm not the biggest fan--it is hyperindividualized, over-the-top lyrically, and a bit outre, perhaps even a touch emo.

But--surely there have to be songs you like less? Even Spirit songs you like less? Maybe, "Come Holy Spirit" by John Peterson (or is it Ralph Carmichael? Or Kurt Kaiser? Come to think of it, are all three of those people actually the same person?)

Your least favorite song--I hope this was an unusual break of scholarly reserve rather than the cold, hard truth.


Mike Jordan

Lance said...

I think that by "shy" he's referring to the idea that the Spirit points to Christ, rather than drawing attention to himself.

And, Mike, "Breathe" is definitely in my bottom 5. As to "Come Holy Spirit," I much prefer this version.

Pastor Michael Jordan said...

Bottom five I can live with, though I like it more than that.

Another hymn regarding the Spirit that's OK is "Gracious Spirit, Dwell With Me." The tune is Redhead ("Go to Dark Gethsemane"), so it's by no means jaunty.

However, say what you will about "Pentecostal Power" but it's not boring.

Pastor Michael Jordan said...

PS--what Dennis Jernigan song did Amy do on Sunday? I've always liked "The Blessing Song..."

Lance said...

It was "We Will Worship the Lamb of Glory."

And, I'll take "Pentecostal Power" as a livelier Pentecost hymn. Ah, Charles Gabriel, who gave us "Now I Belong to Jesus"...

Pastor Michael Jordan said...

I didn't make the Charles Gabriel connection...good call!

"...Jesus belongs to me..."