Today, we celebrate Pentecost, the culmination of the Easter season and the celebration of the giving of the Holy Spirit to the followers of Christ. As part of the today’s liturgy, we will pray the sequence, titled Veni Sancte Spiritus, or “Come, Holy Spirit.” This sequence is part of a number of hymn-poems that were composed in the middle ages. The sequence, which is Latin for sequentia, and means “that which follows,” was originally written to follow the Gospel Acclamation, or Alleluia. The sequence was intended to extend and therefore emphasize the message of the Gospel Acclamation verse. The sequence also had a practical application, it offered musical accompaniment for an extended procession by the deacon with the book of the gospels. By the 12th century, hundreds of theses sequences were sung during Mass. The pre- and post-Vatican Two reforms changed the order of the sequence so that it now appears before the Gospel Acclamation. The number of sequences has been reduced to four: Victimae Paschali Laudes on Easter, Veni Sancte Spiritus on Pentecost, Lauda Sion Salvatorem on Corpus Christi and Stabat Mater, on the Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows, September 15. Two of these, the Victimae Paschali Laudes and Veni Sancte Spiritus, are mandatory. Veni Sancte Spiritus is a beautiful hymn-poem that makes for a great prayer to the Holy Spirit, today and every day of the year.
Come, Holy Spirit, come!
And from your celestial home
Shed a ray of light divine!
Come, Father of the poor!
Come, source of all our store!
Come, within our bosoms shine.
You, of comforters the best;
You, the soul’s most welcome guest;
Sweet refreshment here below;
In our labor, rest most sweet;
Grateful coolness in the heat;
Solace in the midst of woe.
O most blessed Light divine,
Shine within these hearts of yours,
And our inmost being fill!
Where you are not, we have naught,
Nothing good in deed or thought,
Nothing free from taint of ill.
Heal our wounds, our strength renew;
On our dryness pour your dew;
Wash the stains of guilt away:
Bend the stubborn heart and will;
Melt the frozen, warm the chill;
Guide the steps that go astray.
On the faithful, who adore
And confess you, evermore
In your sevenfold gift descend;
Give them virtue’s sure reward;
Give them your salvation, Lord;
Give them joys that never end. Amen.