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Composer: Mary J. Hammond (1920)
Published in 20 hymnals

Printable scores: PDF, MusicXML
Audio files: MIDI

Composer: Mary J. Hammond

Born: 1878, England. Died: January 23, 1964, Hilligdon Nursing Home, St. Albans, Hertfordshire, England. Near the end of her life, Hammond lived in Harpenden, Hertfordshire. --www.hymntime.com/tch/ Go to person page >

Tune Information

Composer: Mary J. Hammond (1920)
Incipit: 17564 32551 12353
Key: D Major
Copyright: © Successor to M. J. Hammond


The name SPIRITUS VITAE derives from the Latin translation of Bessie P. Head's text "O Breath of Life, " for which Mary Jane Hammond (b. England, 1878; d. St. Albans, Hertfordshire, England, 1964) composed the tune around 1914. That text and SPIRITUS VITAE were first published in Heavenly Places and Other Messages (1920). Little is known about Hammond except that she lived in Harpenden, Hertfordshire, toward the end of her life and died at the Hillingdon Nursing Home in nearby St. Albans. One of few tunes that begin on their highest tone, SPIRITUS VITAE virtually repeats lines 1 and 2 in lines 3 and 4, with only a cadential change. Antiphonal performance is appropriate if the entire psalm is sung. The setting with the melody in the tenor, composed by Emily R. Brink (PHH 158) in 1987, is well suited for a choral stanza or as an alternate organ setting. --Psalter Hymnal Handbook, 1988


The Cyber Hymnal #4704
Text: O Breath of Life
  • Adobe Acrobat image (PDF)
  • Noteworthy Composer score (NWC)
  • XML score (XML)
Psalter Hymnal (Gray) #28
Text: O LORD My Rock, in Desperation
  • Full Score (PDF, XML)
  • Bulletin Score (PDF)
  • Bulletin Score (melody only) (PDF)
Worship and Rejoice #328
Text: O Breath of Life


Instances (1 - 15 of 15)Text InfoTune InfoTextScoreFlexScoreAudioPage Scan
Ancient and Modern: hymns and songs for refreshing worship #615aText
Complete Anglican Hymns Old and New #476Text
Hymns for Today's Church (2nd ed.) #43
Hymns for Today's Church (2nd ed.) #237Text
Psalter Hymnal (Gray) #28Text InfoTune InfoScoreAudio
Sing Joyfully #152TextPage Scan
Singing the Faith #391
The Cyber Hymnal #4704TextScoreAudio
The Worshiping Church #299TextPage Scan
Together in Song: Australian hymn book II #409
Together in Song: Australian hymn book II #495
Trinity Hymnal (Rev. ed.) #341TextPage Scan
Voices United: The Hymn and Worship Book of The United Church of Canada #202Text
Voices United: The Hymn and Worship Book of The United Church of Canada #203
Worship and Rejoice #328TextScoreAudioPage Scan
Include 5 pre-1979 instances
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