425. Creator Spirit, by Whose Aid

1 Creator Spirit, by whose aid
the world's foundations first were laid,
come, visit every pious mind;
come, pour thy joys on humankind;
from sin and sorrow set us free
and make thy temples worthy thee.

2 O source of uncreated light,
the Father's promised Paraclete,
thrice holy fount, thrice holy fire,
our hearts with heavenly love inspire;
come and thy sacred unction bring
to sanctify us while we sing.

3 Plenteous of grace, descend from high,
rich in thy sevenfold energy;
make us eternal truths receive
and practice all that we believe;
give us thyself that we may see
the Father and the Son by thee.

Text Information
First Line: Creator Spirit, by whose aid
Title: Creator Spirit, by Whose Aid
Paraphraser: John Dryden (1693)
Publication Date: 1987
Meter: 88 88 88
Scripture: John 14:16; 1 Corinthians 6:19; 1 Corinthians 6
Topic: Commitment & Dedication; Pentecost and Holy Spirit
Source: Latin hymn, Veni Creator Spiritus, 9th cent.
Language: English
Tune Information
Name: MELITA
Composer: John B. Dykes (1861)
Meter: 88 88 88
Key: C Major


Text Information:

Scripture References:
st. 1 = Gen 1:2, 1 Cor. 6:19
st. 2 = John 14:16

The ninth-century Latin hymn "Veni, Creator Spiritus" is the basis for this text as well as 426. Almost as well known as the earlier "Te Deum Laudamus" (504),”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 (b. Aldwinkle, Northamptonshire, England, 1631; d. London, England, 1700), published in his Miscellany Poems (1693). One of the prime literary figures of his time, Dryden 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).

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).

Liturgical Use:
Pentecost; ordination or commissioning services; baptism; profession of faith.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Tune Information:

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 (PHH 147), 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.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook


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