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About Sunday’s Music – Feast of Pentecost

Come, Holy Ghost, holy Light, holy Fire   The HYMN OF THE DAY, “Come Holy Ghost, God and Lord” (497), is by Martin Luther (1483-1546), based on a German-translation of a Latin antiphon for the Vigil of Pentecost “Veni, Sancte Spiritus.”  Luther once stated that this was “composed by the Holy Ghost himself, both words and music.”  Luther added two stanzas of his own.  The tune is based on the German version of the antiphon.

The PRELUDE is a setting of this hymn by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) from his collection known as The Great Eighteen Chorale Preludes.  They represent the pinnacle of Bach’s organ compositions, written in the last decade of his life.  Today’s prelude features the hymn melody in the bass, played in long notes on the pedals, while the hands play an exuberant toccata to portray the “mighty rushing wind” of the Holy Spirit.

The CHORAL VOLUNTARY is a setting of “Come, Holy Ghost, Creator Blest” (498-499) the medieval office hymn for the Office of Terce (daily prayer at 9am) which commemorated the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.  It is a three-part setting by Hugo Distler (1908-1942).  His career, spent in Lübeck, Stuttgart, and Berlin, produced a large amount of music based on German Lutheran hymns with a twentieth-century style.

O Holy Spirit, Enter In   The ENTRANCE HYMN and HYMN TO DEPART (The Lutheran Hymnal 235) is by Michael Schirmer (1606-1673).  It was published in the Berlin Newes vollkömmliches Gesangbuch in 1640.  Schirmer was born and educated in Leipzig and became the assistant rector of Greyfriars Gymnasium in Berlin.  He suffered from bad health, the death of two children, and the general suffering of the Thirty Years’ War, which led him to join other faithful Christians in writing hymns and poetry concerning suffering in the Christian life.  He published a collection, Biblische Lieder in 1650.  The translation is by Catherine Winkworth (1829-1878) for the Chorale Book for England in 1863.

O Day Full of Grace (503), one of the DISTRIBUTION HYMNS, is based on a pre-Reformation Swedish hymn.  A new Danish version was written by Nikolai Grundtvig (1783-1872) to commemorate the thousandth anniversary of Christianity in Denmark.  The English translation is from 1932.  The tune was written in Denmark in 1826.

The lessons are Genesis 11.1–9; Acts 2.1–21; and St. John 14.23–31.
The hymns are: TLH 235 O Holy Spirit, Enter In
497 Come, Holy Ghost, God and Lord
501 Come Down, O Love Divine
500 Creator Spirit, By Whose Aid
503 O Day Full of Grace
768 To God the Holy Spirit Let Us Pray

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