This article first appeared in the May 2016 issue of our parish magazine. You can read it again here:
Our former Priest in Charge, Debby Plummer is a talented songsmith. I recall how, during our first Holiday Club back in the summer of 2009, she managed to engage Thomas and Jonathan in writing a song about Dr Who, complete with time travel and monsters, to the tune of “Summer Holiday” – quite successfully!
This hymn is one of Debby’s compositions, particularly appropriate for Pentecost. She told us about how she came to write it in a sermon once, describing the pertinence and relevance of the references within it, but sadly the details escape me. The music has a Jewish feel to it, which was probably influenced by Debby’s visit to the holy land. The lyrics are:
- Come, Holy Spirit, come, come heav’nly dove of peace,
- come Holy Spirit, come, bring truth and righteousness,
- that we may see Christ’s face, in each and ev’ry one,
- come mercy, love, and grace, come Spirit, come!
- Come, Spirit of our God, come, breathe upon these bones,
- come, Spirit of our God, let all be living stones;
- and build of one and all your temple in this land:
- come Holy Spirit come – join hand in hand.
- Come, Holy Spirit, come, let living water flow
- down from Jerusalem, that nine-fold fruit may grow.
- ‘neath green and shady trees, all nations come to rest;
- here history is healed and all are blest.
This time last year I wrote about the hymn “Spirit of God”, the story of the Samaritan woman at the well and Jesus’ offer to her of “living water” (recorded in John’s gospel, 4:4-26), and linked that to Handel’s “Wash Me Throughly”, which I had written about at the beginning of Lent.
This year we have “living stones”. What does that mean?
Without the breath of the Holy Spirit we are merely water, carbon and a few other trace elements. With the breath of the Holy Spirit we are transformed to be living stones. Think about that for a moment. We like to delude ourselves that we are living, dynamic, autonomous beings, able to choose and control our destiny. We consider stones to be dry and dusty building blocks. We use them for our own purposes, sometimes in a good way, sometimes not. How wrong we are, and how arrogant! Together, we are God’s building blocks. But He doesn’t want us to be dry and dusty. He needs us to be living, vibrant and dynamic pillars of his building – his living temple. To be transformed into living stones we need the breath of the Holy Spirit. We pray every Sunday “…by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit…” This can be interpreted in (at least) two ways. Scientifically, “inspiration”‘can be linked to “respiration” and “expiration”, that is, breathing in. We pray to breathe in the Holy Spirit. Alternatively, “inspiration” can be linked to “inspiring” or “inspirational”. We pray to be inspired by the Holy Spirit. Either way, we need the Holy Spirit within us – physically and spiritually – to guide us to be worthy components of God’s living temple here on earth.
There is no recording of this hymn for you to listen to on YouTube. Instead, find a quiet place, breathe deeply, and allow yourself to be fully inspired.