Come, Holy Spirit, Our Souls Inspire

Full Text

1 Come, Holy Ghost, our souls inspire
and lighten with celestial fire;
thou the anointing Spirit art,
who dost thy sevenfold gifts impart.

2 Thy blessed unction from above
is comfort, life, and fire of love;
enable with perpetual light
the dullness of our mortal sight.

3 Teach us to know the Father, Son,
and thee, of both, to be but one;
that through the ages all along
this may be our endless song:

4 Praise to thine eternal merit,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

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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, Our Souls Inspire

Call to Worship

God of life,
as we prepare for worship today,
help us not to take lightly the highly charged message we proclaim.
Help us sense the power, beauty, and mission of your Spirit.
Through Christ, our Lord, Amen.
[The Worship Sourcebook]
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

Blessed be our God at all times,
now and always and forever and ever. Amen.
Glory to you, our God! Glory to you!
Holy Spirit, Lord and Comforter,
Spirit of truth everywhere present, filling all that exists,
treasury of good gifts and source of life, come and dwell in us;
cleanse us from all sin and in your love bring us to salvation:
God, holy; God, strong and holy;
God, holy and immortal; have pity on us. Amen.
[ecumenical prayer from France]
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two


Our God, we come in humility, confessing who and what we are.
We are often unresponsive, for we are afraid.
When your Spirit speaks, we turn deaf ears,
for we fear what you might call us to do.
When your Spirit touches our lips,
we close our mouths,
embarrassed to speak your Word.
When the wind of your Spirit blows,
we close the windows of our hearts,
afraid the breeze will disrupt our ordered lives.
When the fire of your Spirit touches us,
we quench the flame, afraid of the new life it might bring.
Forgive us, O Lord. Amen.
[Reformed Worship 39:33]
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two


We trust in God the Holy Spirit,
everywhere the giver and renewer of life.
The Spirit justifies us by grace through faith,
sets us free to accept ourselves and to love God and neighbor,
and binds us together with all believers
in the one body of Christ, the church.
The same Spirit
who inspired the prophets and apostles
rules our faith and life in Christ through Scripture,
engages us through the Word proclaimed,
claims us in the waters of baptism,
feeds us with the bread of life and the cup of salvation,
and calls women and men to all ministries of the church.
In a broken and fearful world
the Spirit gives us courage
to pray without ceasing,
to witness among all peoples to Christ as Lord and Savior,
to unmask idolatries in church and culture,
to hear the voices of peoples long silenced,
and to work with others for justice, freedom, and peace.
In gratitude to God, empowered by the Spirit,
we strive to serve Christ in our daily tasks
and to live holy and joyful lives,
even as we watch for God’s new heaven and new earth,
praying, Come, Lord Jesus!
With believers in every time and place,
we rejoice that nothing in life or in death
can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus, our Lord.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. Amen.
—from A Brief Statement of Faith
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two


You have given yourself to us, Lord.
Now we give ourselves for others.
You have sent your Holy Spirit and made us a gifted people.
As people of Pentecost,
we will serve you and proclaim your good news with joy.
Your glory has filled our hearts.
Help us to glorify you in all things. Amen.
[Reformed Worship 39:34]
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

Almighty God,
send us out filled with your life-giving Holy Spirit,
that we may proclaim your gospel through our words and deeds.
May your Spirit lead, equip, and empower us to
bring you glory now and always. Amen.
[The Worship Sourcebook]
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

Additional Prayers

God of abundant love,
we thank you for the gift of your Spirit,
poured out on all who live in Christ.
May these gifts be our response of abundant love;
use them to bless others [name the specific cause],
through Christ, our Lord, in the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
[The Worship Sourcebook]
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

Come, Spirit God, Creator blest,
and in our hearts take up your rest;
come with your grace and heavenly aid
to fill the lives which you have made.
O Comforter, to you we cry,
O heavenly gift of God Most High,
O fount of life and spark of love,
anoint us with fire from above.
You bless us with gifts sevenfold,
inspiring Christians to be bold,
for you, the promised breath of God,
help us to speak Christ’s name abroad.
Kindle our senses from above,
and make our hearts o’erflow with love;
with patience firm and virtue high
the weakness of our flesh supply.
Drive far from us the foe we dread,
and grant to us your peace instead;
so shall we not, with you as guide,
turn from the path of life aside.
O Spirit God, through you alone
know we the Father and the Son;
for we confess in ancient creed
that you from both of them proceed.
Praise to the Father and the Son
and Holy Spirit with them one;
to whom all honor, glory be
for now and for eternity. Amen.
—based on “Veni Creator Spiritus”; the entire text may be sung to OLD HUNDRETH or other LM [Long Meter] tunes,
identified in most hymnals in a metrical tune index.
[The Worship Sourcebook]
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

Come, Holy Spirit, Our Souls Inspire

Tune Information

B♭ Major

Come, Holy Spirit, Our Souls Inspire

Hymn Story/Background

The Latin Pentecost hymn Veni Creator Spiritus dates from ninth century and is one of the most treasured hymns of the church, found in translations and melodic adaptations around the world. In fact, it has been the source of other hymns as well, including “Come, Holy Ghost” (text and music) that Martin Luther included in his very first hymnal in 1524, and “Creator Spirit, by Whose Aid” (text only) by John Dryden. The chant also has been set by composers as varied as Hector Berlioz, Paul Hindemith, Gustav Mahler, and Krzysztof Penderecki.
— Emily Brink

Author Information

Rabanus (or Hrabanus or Reabanus) Maurus (b. Mainz, circa 776; d. Winkel on the Rhine, February 4, 856), son of one Ruthard, was born probably at Mainz, about 776. At an early age he was sent to the Monastery of Fulda to receive a religious education. In 801 he was ordained Deacon, and the following year he went to the monastic school of St. Martin at Tours to study under Alcuin, a celebrated teacher of that time, who pave to Hrabanus the name of Maurus to which Hrabanus added Magnentius. On his return to Fulda in 804 he became the head of the school connected with the Monastery. Towards him Ratgar the abbot showed great unkindness, which arose mainly from the fact that Ratgar demanded the students to build additions to the monastery, whilst Hrabanus required them at the same time for study. Hrabanus had to retire for a season, but Ratgar's deposition by Ludwig the Pious, in 817, opened up the way for his return, and the reopening of the school In the meantime, in 814, he had been raised to the Priesthood. Egil, who succeeded Ratgar as abbot, died in 822, and Hrabanus was appointed in his stead. This post he held for some time, until driven forth by some of the community. In 847, on the death of Archbishop Otgar, Ludwig the younger, with whom Hrabanus had sided in his demand for German independence as against the imperialism of his elder brother Lothar, rewarded him with the Archbishopric of Mainz, then the metropolitan see of Germany. He held this appointment to his death. He was buried first in St. Alban's, Mainz, and then, during the early days of the Reformation, in St. Maurice, Halle, possibly because of the opposition he is known to have made to the doctrine of Transubstantiation.
With German historians Hrabanus is regarded as the father of the modern system of education in that country. His prose works were somewhat numerous, but the hymns with which his name is associated are few. We have the "Christe sanctorum decus Angelorum”; “Tibi Christe, splendor Patris”; and the "Veni Creator Spiritus”; but recent research convinces us that the ascription in each case is very doubtful; and none are received as by Hrabanus in Professor Dümmler's edition of the Carmina of Hrabanus in the Poetae Latini aevi Carolini, vol. ii. 1884. Dümmler omits them even from the "hymns of uncertain origin."
— John Julian Dictionary of Hymnology

John Cosin (b. Norwich, England, November 30, 1594; d. Westminster, England, January 15, 1672), son of Giles Cosin, of Norwich, was educated at the Free School of that city and Caius College, Cambridge. Taking Holy Orders he became (besides holding minor appointments) Prebendary of Durham Cathedral; Rector of Brancepeth, 1626; Master of Peterhouse, Cambridge, 1634, and Vice-Chancellor of the University and Dean of Peterborough, 1640. He suffered much at the hands of the Puritans; but after the Restoration in 1660, he became Dean and then Bishop of Durham. His translation of the Veni Greater Spiritus (q. v.), 44. “Come, Holy Ghost, our souls inspire," was included in his Collection of Private Devotions, 1627.
— John Julian Dictionary of Hymnology

Composer Information

Healey Willan (b. Balham, London, England, October 12, 1880; d. Toronto, Ontario, February 16, 1968), theory teacher, composer and organist, was born into an Anglo-Catholic family in England and served several churches in the London area, becoming known especially for his adaptations of Gregorian chant to be able to be sung in English translation. In 1913 he moved to Canada where he led the theory department and was organist at the Toronto Conservatory of Music. He also was organist at St. Paul’s, Canada’s largest Anglican church, and after 1921 at the smaller Church of St. Mary Magdalene. By invitation, he composed an anthem for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, a singular honor for one not residing in England. 
— Emily Brink

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