Pentecost, 2010

Entrance O Spirit All-embracing
Gloria from Beneath the Tree of Life (Marty Haugen)
Psalm Ps 103 (David Saint)
Gospel Acclamation Pentecost Sequence (arr. Richard Proulx); Easter Alleluia
Rite of Confirmation Breathe on me, breath of God (Evelyn Brokish)
Spirit of God (Bernadette Farrell)
Veni Sancte Spiritus (Taizé)
Preparation of the Gifts Hymn to the Holy Spirit (Randolph Currie)
Sanctus, Acclamation, Amen Spring Sanctus (mcb)
Agnus Dei from Beneath the Tree of Life (Marty Haugen)
Communion Spirit of the living God & Psalm 103 (John Ainslie)
Recessional Come Holy Ghost

Evelyn Brokish OSF, the internet reveals, is a Franciscan nun living and working in Highland, Indiana in the USA: a golden jubilarian this year, she combines her musical ministry with that of sweet shop proprietor and purveyor of her creation, the ChocoNutty Trio. Her Breathe on me, breath of God clothes an adaptation of the familiar hymn text in a prayerful chant-like setting with a recurring refrain. It worked well as a gentle accompaniment to the procession of the candidates in today’s rite of Confirmation.

We followed it with Bernadette Farrell’s Spirit of God, having begun our celebration with the powerful and beautiful O Spirit, all embracing, with words by Delores Dufner OSB, to the music of Gustav Holst’s Thaxted. The final verse runs

Come, passion’s power holy, your insight here impart,
And give your servants lowly an understanding heart
To know your care more clearly when faith and love are tried,
To seek you more sincerely when false ideals have died:
For vision we implore you, for wisdom’s pure delight;
In prayer we come before you to wait upon your light.

Are all the best songs to the Holy Spirit written by women, I wonder?

We had the traditional chant melodies for the two great Pentecost hymns. Randolph Currie’s choral anthem sets the chant melody Veni Creator Spiritus with Latin and English words, and then, surprisingly and skilfully, puts the two together in canon. We sang the sequence Veni Sancte Spiritus in its dancing 6/8 guise, in Richard Proulx’s effervescent arrangement. Both the texts came up a second time too, the latter accompanying Jacques Berthier’s meditative ostinato refrain, and the former in Thomas Tallis’s hymn setting, with which our celebration ended on a properly joyful note.


  1. Women composers? Yes, I agree, but how about Christopher Walker's Veni Sancte Spiritus? — a work that will last for a long time — or his "Send forth your Spirit, O Lord" psalm which is probably the most energetic setting out there?

    Then there's John Bell's "Enemy of Apathy" and Paul Inwood's "Litany of the Spirit", not to mention Peter Hurford's Litany of the Holy Spirit.

  2. Yeah, I was being rhetorical really. :-) It's a way of getting people to comment! I think Paul Wellicome's setting in Baptised with Fire might have the edge over CW when it comes to 'energetic'. The Hurford is a charming piece, but not particularly 'Spirit' oriented, aside from the recurring phrase Sweet Spirit comfort me. A bit gloomy for Pentecost, at any rate.

    I don't think I know the Inwood setting. Is it in a collection?

  3. Of course you were being rhetorical. And I rose to your bait.

    My personal opinion is that Wellicome's semiquavers take the steam out of his piece, where Walker's firm two-in-a-bar pounding rhythm definitely triumphs.

    My researches also tell me that Inwood's Litany is now out of print as an OCP octavo, and appeared in the third or fourth St Thomas More Collection, both of which I think are also out of print. But I believe it is still available in Laudate, no. 295 (I'm currently in a country on the European mainland and have no copy to check against).