Christians throughout the world sing Pentecost hymns in celebration of Pentecost Sunday, the seventh Sunday after Easter. This celebration commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit on the apostles following the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ.

By El Greco

The Pentecost, by El Greco (1541-1614)

New Testament Eyewitness Accounts

Eyewitness accounts from the New Testament book of Acts, Chapter two, describe a sound like the rush of a violent wind. The wind “filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.”

From that day, the disciples were emboldened to fulfill the great commission Jesus gave in Matthew 28:19. “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…”

Pentecost Sunday - Whitsunday

Pentecost Sunday later became a popular day for the baptism of new Christian converts. In England, this Sunday is known as “Whitsunday” after the white garments traditionally worn by those being baptized.

The Holy Spirit calls, connects, enables, and empowers believers past, present, and future, in relationship with God and in mission to others. It is no exaggeration to state the Holy Spirit inspires hymnwriters and those who sing inspired hymns.

Hymns on the Holy Spirit

Among the many hymns on the Holy Spirit, here are three that together, span over five centuries of Christian experience. “Come Down, O Love Divine,” by Bianco de Siena, dates from the 14th century. It was translated into English by Richard Frederick Littledale in 1867. “Come, Holy Spirit, Heavenly Dove,” by Isaac Watts, is an early 18th-century hymn. “Breathe on Me, Breath of God,” by Edward Hatch, dates from 1878. In this latter hymn the author addresses the Holy Spirit as “Breath of God.”

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Come Down, O Love Divine

Come down, o Love Divine;
Seek out this soul of mine,
And visit it with your own ardor glowing.
O Comforter, draw near;
Within my heart appear,
And kindle it, your holy flame bestowing.

O let it freely burn,
Till earthly passions turn
To dust and ashes in its heat consuming;
And let your glorious light shine ever on my sight, and
clothe me round, the while my path illuming.

So with yearning strong,
With which the soul will long,
Shall far outpass the power of human telling.
For none can guess God’s grace,
Till Love creates a place
Wherein the Holy Spirit makes a dwelling.

Come, Holy Spirit, Heavenly Dove

Come, Holy Spirit, heavenly Dove,
With all thy quickening powers;
Kindle a flame of sacred love in
These cold hearts of ours.

In vain we tune our formal songs; in
vain we strive to rise;
Hosannas languish on our tongues,
And our devotion dies.

Dear Lord, and shall we ever live
At this poor dying rate?
Our love so faint, so cold to thee,
And thine to us so great!

Come, Holy Spirit, heavenly Dove,
With all thy quickening powers;
Come, shed abroad a Savior’s love,
And that shall kindle ours.

Breath on Me, Breath of God

Breathe on me, Breath of God.
Fill me with live anew,
That I may love what thou dost love,
And do what thou wouldst do.

Breathe on me, Breath of God,
Until my heart is pure, until
with thee I will one will,
To do and to endure;

Breathe on me, Breath of God,
Till I am wholly thine,
Until this earthly part of me
Glows with thy fire divine.

Breath of God, Breathe on me,
So shall I never die,
But live with thee the perfect life
Of thine eternity.

About the Author Larry Frazier

Larry spent 24 years teaching music at the University of West Georgia to over 6,000 students. Ten years ago, Larry and his wife Mary Lynn, received comfort, support and inspiration from traditional Christian hymns while she overcame stage-three colon cancer. Larry is on a mission to help you discover God’s incredible power through the intersection of faith and Christian music in your life.

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