Breathe on Me, Breath of God

Scripture References

Confessions and Statements of Faith References

Further Reflections on Confessions and Statements of Faith References

This song emphasizes the action of the Christian and the church to call on God to renew our hearts through the word. These requests are based on the truths taught in Belgic Confession, Article 24: True faith is “produced in us by the hearing of God’s Word and by the work of the Holy Spirit, (and) regenerates us and makes us new creatures, causing us to live a new life and freeing us from the slavery of sin.”

Additional Prayers

A Prayer for the Spirit to Breathe on Me
Breathe on me, breath of God. I am empty; fill me. I am chilly; warm me. I am suffocating under the mound of my unconfessed sin; revive me. Breathe on me, breath of God; fill me with life anew in Jesus’ holy name. Amen.
— Cornelius Plantinga, Jr.

Tune Information

E♭ Major

Hymn Story/Background

The text is a prayer for renewal by God's Spirit (like Ps. 51:10-12), a renewal that is to be expressed in a life of love (st. 1), in purity of heart and will (st. 2), and in an intimacy with God that heralds the perfection of eternal life (st. 3). In both Hebrew and Greek the Word for "spirit" is the same as "wind/air/breath"; thus in this text the Spirit of God is referred to as "Breath of God."
Intended as a hymn for ordination, this text by Edwin Hatch was privately printed in 1878 and then published in Henry Allon's The Congregational Psalmist Hymnal in 1886. Hatch evidently had a simple and childlike faith; that description fits this text as well.
Robert Jackson originally, composed TRENTHAM as a setting for Henry W. Baker's "O Perfect Life of Love." Named for a village in Staffordshire, England, close to the town in which Jackson was born, the tune was published with the Baker text in Fifty Sacred Leaflets (1888).
By the turn of the twentieth century, TRENTHAM became associated with the Hatch text. TRENTHAM is a serviceable tune in the mannerist tradition of Victorian hymnody, but it is barely adequate for the fervor of this text. Nonetheless, the tune is loved by many. Sing in harmony and maintain one pulse per bar.
— Bert Polman

Author Information

Edwin Hatch (b. Derby, England, 1835; d. Oxford, England, 1889) grew up in a Non-conformist home, was educated at Pembroke College, Oxford, England, and was ordained in the Church of England in 1859. A teacher of classics and church history, he taught at Trinity College, Toronto, Canada (1859-1862), and at a high school in Quebec City (1862-1867). In 1867 he returned to Oxford, where he served the academic world with great distinction, particularly as a specialist on early Christian history. His few hymn texts were published posthumously in Towards Fields of Light (1890).
— Bert Polman

Composer Information

After receiving his musical training at the Royal Academy of Music, Robert Jackson (b, Oldham, Lancashire, England, 1842; d. Oldham, 1914) worked briefly as organist at St. Mark's Church, Grosvenor Square, in London. But he spent most of his life as organist at St. Peter's Church in Oldham (1868-1914), where his father had previously been organist for forty-eight years. A composer of hymn tunes, Jackson was also the conductor of the Oldham Music Society and Werneth Vocal Society.
— Bert Polman