Pentecost, Sunday 31st May
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ
Now we approach Pentecost, that time when the Holy Spirit flooded into the hearts of humanity. And one of the most beautiful expressions of this miracle is the sacred poem, ‘Veni Sancte Spiritus’, also known as the Golden Sequence. It has long been part of the celebration of Pentecost, and was likely written by Stephen Langton (d. 1228) Archbishop of Canterbury.
And so now you probably think I’m going to give you a copy of this poem, but I’m not. Instead I’m going to share with you a poem that I found written on small, half sheet of paper in a used book I bought. The book is Evelyn Underhill’s Golden Sequence (published 1932). I bought it for an essay that I was working on when I was training at St Hild’s over in Mirfield. It was pretty inexpensive, and I was pleased to have this important book on the work of the Holy Spirit by Underhill. Boy was I thrilled when I realized that the book had once been owned by L.V. Holdsworth, a Quaker writer and poet—and has her notes in it. And I was ever more thrilled when I found in the leaves of the book a letter by the Quaker theologian, Rufus M. Jones. It’s a friendly letter, and I do intend to send it to Haverford College, in Pennsylvania eventually so they can add it to their collection of Jones’s letters. All this was really fun for someone like me who loves books and letters and thinking about people from the past. But one last treat was instore for me, A poem written by Holdsworth inspired by ‘Veni Sancte Spiritus’, which appears in Latin on page xiv of Underhill’s book. I think this is an original poem that has never been published, and may never have been seen before, except by me, and now by all of you…though don’t quote me on that for I haven’t done much research on the poem yet. I find it such a beautiful poem especially for this time and so I wanted to share it with you:
Creator Spirit Come
Creator Spirit, Come
And visit at this hour
Our mind which Thou has made
To give us Heavenly Power.
Thou Strengthener of souls,
Great Gift of God, bestow
The Life, the Fire, the dove
That from Thy Presence flow.
The sevenfold gifts are Thine,
Strength of the Lord’s right hand,
Give us a word to speak
Our feeble lips command
Oh set cold hearts on fire
And give dull eyes thy light;
Change our infirmity
To thine own Glorious Might
Scatter our deadly foes
And give us peace & calm;
Lead us from day to day
Out of the snares that harm.
Show us the Father’s love
Teach us to know The Son;
Since Thou for ever more
With Them art Three in One.
Praise the Father be,
To Son & Spirit blest
Christ, May Thy Spirit Pour
Upon Thy Children rest.
(likely written by L.V. Holdworth)
Evelyn Underhill wrote that ‘God is Spirit’ and that God’s Spirit is the ground of our being. Through the Holy Spirit we receive a ‘capacity for God’ a kinship with our Divine creator. As we worship, celebrate, and pray during this time of Pentacost, let us think on what that means for each of us, for our lives, in times of hardship and in times of joy. I believe that is what L.V. Holdsworth tries to do in her poem.
In case you are missing a sermon, I’ve attached Bishop Jonathan’s Pentecost sermon (below) which he has allowed us to circulate.
We will not have a parish ‘zoom’ service this week. Instead, Bishop Nick Baines, the Bishop of
Leeds has invited us all to worship with him.
Two services will be streamed, which will include Bishop Nick’s
contribution - Bradford Cathedral’s website at 10.15am here and via
Wakefield Cathedral’s website at 11am here.
You can read all about this here.
We will be back together for a ‘zoom’ Eucharist service on June 7th.
May the seven blessings of Pentecost: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and awe for our Lord be present and working in your lives today, tomorrow and always.
Revd Jessica Malay