Come, Holy Spirit

Scripture References

Confessions and Statements of Faith References

Further Reflections on Confessions and Statements of Faith References

It is difficult to isolate certain confessional themes in each song about the Holy Spirit. Rather, there are several themes that are woven together in nearly all of these songs. The Holy Spirit is identified as one with the Father and the Son in the Holy Trinity; we plead for the coming and indwelling of the Spirit in our lives; the Spirit’s work is evident in creation and in God’s people throughout redemptive history; the Spirit calls and empowers the church for mission; and the Spirit is the source of power, fruit, and hope. These themes are expressed in confessional statements such as these:

  • Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 20, Question and Answer 53 testifies, “…the Spirit, with the Father and the Son, is eternal God.” In addition, the Spirit “makes me share in Christ and all his benefits, comforts me, and will remain with me forever.”
  • Our World Belongs to God has helpful references to these multiple themes of the Spirit’s work and ministry.
    • “Jesus becomes the baptizer, drenching his followers with the Spirit, creating a new community where Father, Son and Spirit make their home” (paragraph 28)
    • “The Spirit renews our hearts and moves us to faith… stands by us in our need and makes our obedience fresh and vibrant” (paragraph 29).
    • “God the Spirit lavishes gifts on the church in astonishing variety…equipping each member to build up the body of Christ and to serve our neighbors.”
    • “The Spirit gathers people from every tongue, tribe and nation into the unity of the body of Christ” (paragraph 30).
    • “Men and women, impelled by the Spirit go next door and far away…pointing to the reign of God with what they do and say” (paragraph 30).  
  •       Our Song of Hope also contributes very clearly regarding the Spirit’s work:
    • “The Holy Spirit speaks through the Scriptures…has inspired Greek and Hebrew words, setting God’s truth in human language, placing God’s teaching in ancient culture, proclaiming the Gospel in the history of the world” (stanza 6).

    •  “The Holy Spirit speaks through the church, measuring its words by the canonical Scriptures…has spoken in the ancient creeds, and in the confessions of the Reformation” (stanza 7).
    • “The Spirit sends [the church] out in ministry to preach good news to the poor, righteousness to the nations, and peace among all people” (stanza 16).
    • “The Holy Spirit builds one church, united in one Lord and one hope, with one ministry around one table” (stanza 17).
    • The Spirit calls all believers in Jesus to respond in worship together, to accept all the gifts from the Spirit, to learn from each other’s traditions, to make unity visible on earth” (stanza 17).

“…The Spirit works at the ends of the world before the church has there spoken a word” (stanza 20).


Come, Holy Spirit

Call to Worship

Come, Creator Spirit, and move over this chaotic world.
Come, Creator Spirit, and bring life to this world.
Come, Creator Spirit, and move over the chaos of our lives.
Come, Creator Spirit, and bring us new life. Amen.
[Reformed Worship 35:20]
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

Spirit of the living God, visit us again on this day of Pentecost.
Come, Holy Spirit.
Like a rushing wind that sweeps away all barriers,
come, Holy Spirit.
Like tongues of fire that set our hearts aflame,
come, Holy Spirit.
With speech that unites the Babel of our tongues,
come, Holy Spirit.
With love that overlaps the boundaries of race and nation,
come, Holy Spirit.
With power from above to make our weakness strong,
come, Holy Spirit. Amen.
[Reformed Worship 39:32]
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

Additional Prayers

Gracious God, your Holy Spirit hovered over the waters at creation.
You made a world that was breathtaking and life-giving.
Sin invaded this world and shattered it.
Pollution, disease, and natural disasters plague our world.
God, our provider, heal the sick, give peace to the dying,
shelter the homeless, and protect the vulnerable.
With your Holy Spirit, renew your creation.
When you formed humanity, you breathed your spirit into us.
You walked in the garden. You wanted fellowship with us.
Our sin separated us from you, so we live in a world of pain and hurt.
Some are hungry. Some are lonely. Some are empty.
Almighty God, giver of strength, feed the hungry, quench the thirsty,
support the orphans, uplift the depressed, and free the downtrodden.
With your Holy Spirit, point us to new life in Christ.
You called a people to be your own and to be a light to the world.
Throughout the world your church suffers.
Some are mocked for professing your name. Some are killed for praying to you.
Some pursue personal preferences rather than loving unity.
God, our refuge, shield from harm those who love you,
surround us with your mercy, and gird your church with the fruit of your Spirit.
With your Holy Spirit, empower your church to witness to your glory.
Through the grace of Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit we pray.
[The Worship Sourcebook]
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

God of rushing wind,
coming from where it wants
and going to where it wants,
pour out your Spirit upon us.
God of fire,
flaring on gathered disciples
and burning away their stubborn pride,
pour out your Spirit upon us.
God of miraculous speaking and hearing,
amazing the faithful
and riveting their attention to what is about to happen,
pour out your Spirit upon us.
God of the young who see visions,
of the old who dream dreams,
of male prophets and female prophets,
pour out your Spirit upon us.
God of wonders above and signs below,
God of blood and fire and billowing smoke,
God of blackened sun and bloodied moon,
pour out your Spirit upon us.
You raised up Peter to prophesy on Pentecost,
Peter to preach straight truth to a crooked generation,
Peter to accuse people he loved of complicity in the death of Jesus;
pour out your Spirit upon us.
God of wind and fire and tongues,
God of visions and dreams and prophecies,
God of signs and wonders,
pour out your Spirit upon us.
You raised up Peter to preach Jesus to a skeptical audience,
and with the two-edged sword of Peter’s word
you cut through the armor of a crooked generation,
you pricked their hearts and saved them.
Great God, send your Spirit to save us too.
You sent your Spirit to assail hard hearts.
You sent repentance and faith,
baptism and forgiveness,
teaching and fellowship, communion and prayer.
Great God, send your Spirit to save us too. Amen.
[The Worship Sourcebook]
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

Come, Holy Spirit

Tune Information

B♭ Major


Musical Suggestion

I would also suggest that the congregation does not need the music printed out. But make sure your choir or worship team knows when to come in on the repeats and how long to hold the final note of each phrase.
(from Reformed WorshipIssue 55)
— Emily Brink

Using very few notes, this tune creates an austerity in its invocation of the Holy Spirit. Depending how it is used, it can be meditative, pleading, or bold—or all those things in one sitting! The music requires a cantor to sing a line, and the congregation to repeat. When teaching, first sing it straight through and then on subsequent repetitions encourage the holding of the long notes at the end of each phrase to create some harmony. The dynamics should mirror the melody: swell at “Maranatha!” and decrescendo on the final phrase. Although the song’s sparseness implies a certain restraint, do keep the tempo firm. Don’t be afraid to sing a capella.

Come, Holy Spirit

Hymn Story/Background

This text combines two ancient phrases: the Aramaic “Maranatha” (Come, Lord) and the translation of the Latin “Veni Sancte Spiritus” (Come, Holy Spirit). This alliance makes explicit the Spirit’s divinity, and suggests that this song is suitable at many other occasions besides Pentecost.

Author and Composer Information

This song comes from John Bell and Graham Maule. Both are members of the Iona Community, an ecumenical Christian group of men and women based on the small island of Iona off the coast of Scotland. The community began in 1938 when the Rev. George MacLeod of the Church of Scotland began a ministry among the unemployed poor who had been neglected by the church. He took a handful of men to the island to rebuild the ruins of a thousand-year-old abbey church. That rebuilding became a metaphor for the rebuilding of the common life, a return to the belief that daily activity is the stuff of godly service – work, and worship.  The Community has since grown to include a group of members, associates, and friends all over the United Kingdom and many other contries. In addition to many conferences that attract people to Iona from around the world, the Community is known for its publishing of new songs and prayers for worship, both developed in community and gathered from around the world. For more information on the Iona Community, check their website: www.iona.org.uk. John Bell is probably the community’s most well-known member, having composed and arranged much of the community’s music.
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