420. Breathe on Me, Breath of God

1 Breathe on me, Breath of God,
fill me with life anew,
that I may love the way you love,
and do what you would do.

2 Breathe on me, Breath of God,
until my heart is pure,
until my will is one with yours,
to do and to endure.

3 Breathe on me, Breath of God,
so shall I never die,
but live with you the perfect life
for all eternity.

Text Information
First Line: Breathe on me, breath of God
Title: Breathe on Me, Breath of God
Author: Edwin Hatch (1878, alt.)
Publication Date: 1987
Meter: SM
Scripture: Ezekiel 36:27; Joel 2:28; John 20:22; John 20
Topic: Will of God; Songs for Children: Hymns; Pentecost and Holy Spirit
Language: English
Tune Information
Name: TRENTHAM
Composer: Robert Jackson (1878)
Meter: SM
Key: E♭ Major


Text Information:

Scripture References:
st. 1 = Ezek. 36:27
st. 1-3 = Joel 2:28, John 20:22

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 (b. Derby, England, 1835; d. Oxford, England, 1889) 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.

Hatch grew up in a Non-conformist home, was educated at Pembroke College, Oxford, England, and 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).

Liturgical Use:
Pentecost; as a prayer for renewal; ordination and other commissioning services; profession of faith.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Tune Information:

Robert Jackson (b, Oldham, Lancashire, England, 1842; d. Oldham, 1914) originally, composed TRENTHAM as a setting for Henry W. Baker's "O Perfect Life of Love" (380). 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).

After receiving his musical training at the Royal Academy of Music, Jackson 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.

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 (see PHH 276), 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.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook


Media
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