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Come, Holy Spirit, Heavenly Dove

Full Text

1 Come, Holy Spirit, heavenly Dove,
with all thy quickening powers;
kindle a flame of sacred love
in these cold hearts of ours.

2 In vain we tune our formal songs;
in vain we strive to rise;
hosannas languish on our tongues,
and our devotion dies.

3 Dear Lord, and shall we ever live
at this poor dying rate?
Our love so faint, so cold to thee,
and thine to us so great!

4 Come, Holy Spirit, heavenly Dove,
with all thy quickening powers;
come, shed abroad a Savior's love,
and that shall kindle ours.

Source: Glory to God: the Presbyterian Hymnal #279

Author: Isaac Watts

Isaac Watts was the son of a schoolmaster, and was born in Southampton, July 17, 1674. He is said to have shown remarkable precocity in childhood, beginning the study of Latin, in his fourth year, and writing respectable verses at the age of seven. At the age of sixteen, he went to London to study in the Academy of the Rev. Thomas Rowe, an Independent minister. In 1698, he became assistant minister of the Independent Church, Berry St., London. In 1702, he became pastor. In 1712, he accepted an invitation to visit Sir Thomas Abney, at his residence of Abney Park, and at Sir Thomas' pressing request, made it his home for the remainder of his life. It was a residence most favourable for his health, and for the prosecution of his literary… Go to person page >


Come, Holy Spirit, Heavenly Dove, With all Thy, &c. I. Watts. [Whitsuntide.] First published in his Hymns & Sacred Songs, 1707, (cd., 1709, Bk. ii., No. 34, in 5 stanzas of 4 lines), and entitled, "Breathing after the Holy Spirit; or, Fervency of Devotion desired." The changes which have been made in this hymn are very numerous. About twenty texts are now in common use, each differing from the other in some detail, and all joining in rejecting certain expressions in the original. The original reads:

"Come, Holy Spirit, Heav'nly Dove,
With all Thy quick'ning pow'rs,
Kindle a flame of sacred love
In these cold hearts of ours.

“Look how we grovel here below,
Fond of these trifling toys:
Our souls can neither fly nor go
To reach eternal joys.

"In vain we tune our formal songs,
In vain we strive to rise,
Hosannas languish on our tongues,
And our devotion dies.

“Dear Lord! and shall we ever live
At this poor dying rate,
Our love so faint, so cold to Thee,
And Thine to us so great?

“Come, Holy Spirit, Heav'nly Dove,
With all Thy quick'ning pow'rs,
Come, shed abroad a Saviour's love,
And that shall kindle ours."

The changes which have been made in this text have been mainly directed against stanzas ii. and iv. J. Wesley met the difficulty in his Collection of Psalms and Hymns, 1743, by omitting stanza ii. and making stanza iv., line 1, to read, "And shall we then for ever live." This text was given in the Supplement to the Wesleyan Hymn Book, 1830; the revised edition, 1875, and others. The reading of stanza ii., lines 3, 4, which has been received with the greatest favour is:—

"Our souls, how heavily they go
To reach eternal joys."

This was given in G. Whitefield's Collection, 1753, No. 99, and repeated by M. Madan, 1760; Toplady, 177G; Bickersteth, 1833, and thus to modern collections, The most acceptable reading of stanza iv, lines 1, 2,

"Dear Lord! and shall we ever be
In this poor dying state,"

was given in Bickersteth's Christian Psalmody, 1833. The numerous minor changes in the text of this hymn we cannot note. The re-written forms of the text, one by Cotterill, in his Selection, 1819, and the second by Hall or Osier, in the Mitre, 1836, are both failures. The American collections vary in their readings in common with those of Great Britain. In its various forms the use of this hymn is extensive.

--John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)


ST. AGNES (Dykes)

John B. Dykes (PHH 147) composed ST. AGNES for [Jesus the Very Thought of Thee]. Dykes named the tune after a young Roman Christian woman who was martyred in A.D. 304 during the reign of Diocletian. St. Agnes was sentenced to death for refusing to marry a nobleman to whom she said, "I am already eng…

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ST. MARTIN'S (Tansur 11215)



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The Cyber Hymnal #995
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Instances (1 - 19 of 19)Text InfoTune InfoTextScoreFlexScoreAudioPage Scan
African American Heritage Hymnal #314TextPage Scan
Chalice Hymnal #248Text
Common Praise (1998) #640
Glory to God: the Presbyterian Hymnal #279Text InfoTextFlexScoreAudioPage Scan
Hymnal 1982: according to the use of the Episcopal Church #510TextFlexScorePage Scan
Hymns and Psalms: a Methodist and ecumenical hymn book #297a
Hymns and Psalms: a Methodist and ecumenical hymn book #297b
Hymns for a Pilgrim People: a congregational hymnal #225
Presbyterian Hymnal: hymns, psalms, and spiritual songs #126TextFlexScorePage Scan
Seventh-day Adventist Hymnal #269
Sing Joyfully #155TextPage Scan
Small Church Music #623Audio
Small Church Music #1074Audio
Small Church Music #3750Audio
The Colored Sacred Harp, Third Revised edition #91b
The Cyber Hymnal #995TextScoreAudio
The New Century Hymnal #281Text
The Worshiping Church #298TextPage Scan
Trinity Hymnal (Rev. ed.) #332TextPage Scan
Include 942 pre-1979 instances