|Composer:||Mary J. Hammond (1920)|
|Incipit:||17564 32551 12353|
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
Voices: Vocal Solos and Duets