This Sunday, Catholics the world over celebrate Pentecost:
Pentecost commemorates the coming of the Holy Spirit to the apostles. After Jesus rose on Easter, he appeared to the apostles over the next 40 days, teaching them the significance of what had happened to Him. They listened, but didn’t really understand, so Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit, who would enlighten them and give them everything they would need to carry the Good News to people all over the world.
Then Jesus ascended into heaven, and the apostles were more confused than ever!
They gathered in an upper room with the mother of Jesus to pray. Ten days later they heard a loud noise, and the Holy Spirit descended upon them in tongues of fire. When that happened, they received spiritual gifts that transformed their lives and gave them the power to touch the lives of other people.
They ran into the streets and began to tell people about Jesus. Each person in the crowd understood the apostles in his or her own language. Thousands became believers that day.
Today we celebrate Pentecost as the birthday of the Church.
I love the Sequence of Pentecost, whether I’m singing it myself, or just listening – this tribute to the Holy Spirit is is one of the most powerful invocations of the Church.
So imagine my delight when I found this rare audio recording. The Sistine Chapel Choir director, Baron Rudolf Kanzler conducted the Augustinian Fathers singing the “Veni Sancte Spiritus” (Sequence from Pentecost). Recorded in 1904 for the Gregorian Congress.
Holy Spirit, Lord of Light,
From the clear celestial height.
Thy pure beaming radiance give.
Come, thou Father of the poor,
Come, with treasures which endure;
Come, thou Light of all that live!
Thou, of all consolers best,
Thou, the soul’s delightful guest,
Dost refreshing peace bestow.
Thou in toil art comfort sweet;
Pleasant coolness in the heat;
Solace in the midst of woe.
Light immortal, Light divine,
Visit thou these hearts of thine,
And our inmost being fill.
If thou take thy grace away,
Nothing pure in man will stay;
All his good is turned to ill.
Heal our wounds, our strength renew;
On our dryness pour thy 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.
Thou, on us who evermore
Thee confess and thee adore,
With thy sevenfold gifts descend.
Give us comfort when we die;
Give us life with thee on high;
Give us joys that never end.