Creator Spirit, by Whose Aid

Scripture References

Confessions and Statements of Faith References

Further Reflections on Confessions and Statements of Faith References

God’s children are called to and gathered to give worship to all three members of the Trinity. Belgic Confession, Article 8, gives the clearest explanation of the three persons of the Trinity, including not only their identity, but also their nature and tasks: “The Father is the cause, origin, and source of all things, visible and invisible. The Son is the Word, the Wisdom, and the image of the Father. The Holy Spirit is the eternal power and might, proceeding from the Father and the Son.”

Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 8, Questions and Answers 24 and 25 does so in much briefer form. As does the Belhar Confession, Section 1: “We believe in the triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, who gathers, protects and cares for the church through Word and Spirit. This, God has done since the beginning of the world and will do to the end.”

Tune Information

C Major


Hymn Story/Background

The ninth-century Latin hymn "Veni, Creator Spiritus" is the basis for this text. Almost as well known as the earlier "Te Deum Laudamus," “Veni, Creator Spiritus” is an anonymous hymn; it has been attributed to Rhabanus Maurus (776-856), but with no solid proof to date. The Hymnal 1982 Companion provides the following information:
Of all Latin Hymns, this has probably been the most familiar to Anglicans throughout the centuries. Most likely written in the ninth century, it has been in continuous use in English coronation rites since the accession of Edward II in 1307. . . . Its original use is unknown, but it has been sung at various Pentecost offices at least since the tenth century and at ordination services at least since the eleventh (Vol. Three B, pp. 502-503).
Several translations are in use, all rather free paraphrases from the Latin. The translation provided here is by John Dryden, published in his Miscellany Poems (1693).
The text is a prayer for the creative, dynamic work of the Holy Spirit in God's people. The prayer is cast in older English expressions: "Paraclete" is Greek for comforter, advocate, or counselor (st. 2); "sevenfold energy" is based on the medieval reading of Isaiah 11:2, in which the Hebrew list of six characteristics of the Spirit was mistakenly translated into the Latin Vulgate as seven traits, thereby spawning a medieval tradition of "sevenfold… of the Spirit" (st. 3).
The original chant melody associated with this text is found in most hymnals of denominations where chant has played a role, including the Lutheran tradition, which has produced much organ music on this well-known chant.
The setting here is by John B. Dykes, originally composed as a setting for William Whiting's "Eternal Father, Strong to Save." Published in Hymns Ancient and Modern (1861) with that text, MELITA is often referred to as the "navy hymn." The tune is named after the island of Malta where Paul was shipwrecked.
A fine tune, MELITA is marked by good use of melodic sequences and a harmony that features several dominant sevenths (both are Dykes's trademarks). Sing in harmo­ny; because the lines flow into each other in almost breathless fashion, use a stately tempo.

Author Information

One of the prime literary figures of his time, John Dryden (b. Aldwinkle, Northamptonshire, England, 1631; d. London, England, 1700) received his education at Trinity College, Cambridge, England. His first major poem was "Heroic Stanzas on the Death of Oliver Cromwell." After James I was restored to the throne, Dryden became both a royalist and Roman Catholic. At the height of his career he was appointed poet laureate and royal historian. Because he remained a Roman Catholic when the Protestants William and Mary came to the throne in 1688, he lost his official positions. A writer of plays, poems, odes, and satires, Dryden also translated the works of classical poets such as Virgil and Bocaccio. His English translations of Latin hymns were published posthu­mously in The Primer of Office (1706).
— Bert Polman

Composer Information

As a young child John Bacchus Dykes (b. Kingston-upon-Hull' England, 1823; d. Ticehurst, Sussex, England, 1876) took violin and piano lessons. At the age of ten he became the organist of St. John's in Hull, where his grandfather was vicar. After receiving a classics degree from St. Catherine College, Cambridge, England, he was ordained in the Church of England in 1847. In 1849 he became the precentor and choir director at Durham Cathedral, where he introduced reforms in the choir by insisting on consistent attendance, increasing rehearsals, and initiating music festivals. He served the parish of St. Oswald in Durham from 1862 until the year of his death. To the chagrin of his bishop, Dykes favored the high church practices associated with the Oxford Movement (choir robes, incense, and the like). A number of his three hundred hymn tunes are still respected as durable examples of Victorian hymnody. Most of his tunes were first published in Chope's Congregational Hymn and Tune Book (1857) and in early editions of the famous British hymnal, Hymns Ancient and Modern.
— Bert Polman