Hymns for Pentecost (Whit Sunday)

There is really only one hymn for Pentecost. It is the Office hymn Veni Creator Spiritus sung at Vespers and Terse on Pentecost and throughout the octave. If you have never sung any chant before, this is the perfect place to start. This is a fantastic piece to sing, not just for Pentecost, but for anytime you need an invocation of the Holy Spirit, anytime you need help and guidance basically.. After the Te Deum this is probably number two in the Catholic charts of quite wonderful music I really ought to know but were afraid to ask about.  It is also probably the only Catholic hymn that has its own Facebook page. The other incredible fact about this hymn is if you sing it on the feast of Pentecost (and the 1st January) a plenary indulgence is granted…

According to The Hymns of  the Brevary and Missal (Rev Matthew Britt),  Veni Creator Spiritus was probably written by Rabanus Maurus (776-856) although some attribute it to Gregory the Great.  It is written Mode 8, the same Mode as Lumen ad revelationem gentium (Candlemas), Lux aeterna (Requiem Mass).

According to http://www.hymnary.org/text/veni_creator_spiritus:

In mediaeval times the singing of this hymn was generally marked with special dignity, by the ringing of bells, the use of incense, of lights, of the best vestments, &c.

On Holy Thursday 1998 Pope John Paul II wrote in his letter to priests:

This ancient liturgical hymn reminds every priest of his Ordination day, recalling the commitment made in that unique moment to be completely open to the action of the Holy Spirit. It reminds him as well of the Paraclete’s special assistance and of the many moments of grace, joy and intimacy which the Lord has granted him to enjoy on his life’s journey.

The full text can be found on the Vatican website HERE

When singing this hymn, make sure you do not breathe after every line. The lines should be sung in pairs with the breath coming after the 2nd and then 4th line. This will also give you a good indication of the speed to sing the piece. If you cannot make it through to the end of the second line, you are singing it too slowly.  Remember the main break in each verse should occer at the double bar line in the middle of the stanza, not at the end of the verse. If you are alternating verses between two choirs, make sure each choir is prompt picking up the next verse. If you have a good balance of strong male and female voices alternate the verses between men and women.

Other hymns for Pentecost:

Breathe on me, breath of God

Come Down O love divine

Come Holy Ghost Creator Come (the English version of Veni Creator Spiritus)

Holy Spirit, Lord of Light (English version of Veni Sancte Spiritus)

Veni Sancte Spiritus (Taize)

Veni Sancte Spiritus (Christopher Walker)

Hymns that ought to take away a plenary indulgence for Pentecost:

God’s Spirit is in my head.

Rejoice Rejoice (Kendrick)

She sits like a bird (?!!)

Walk in the light


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