Veni Creator Spiritus

Representative Text

1 Veni, Creator Spiritus,
Mentes tuorum visita:
Imple superna gratia
Quae tu creasti pectora.

2 Qui diceris Paraclitus,
Altisimi donum Dei,
Fons vivus, ignis, caritas,
Et spiritalis unctio.

3 Tu septiformis munere,
Digitus paternae dexterae,
Tu rite promissum Patris,
Sermone ditans guttura.

4 Accende lumen sensibus,
Infunde amorem cordibus,
Infirma nostri corporis
Virtute firmans perpeti.

5 Hostem repellas longius,
Pacemque dones protinus:
Ductore sic te praevio,
Vitemus omne noxium.

6 Per te sciamus da Patrem,
Noscamus atque Filium
Teque utriusque Spiritum
Credamus omni tempore.

7 Deo Patri sit gloria,
Et Filio, que a mortuis
Surrexit, ac Paraclito,
In saeculorum saecula.


Source: RitualSong (2nd ed.) #650

Author: Rabanus Maurus

Rabanus Maurus (c. 776-856) or Hrabanus Magnentius Maurus, was born of noble parents at Mainz, and educated at Fulda and Tours under Alcuin, who is reputed to have given him the surname, Maurus, after the saint of that name. In 803, he became director of the school at the Benedictine Abbey at Fulda. He was ordained priest in 814, spending the following years in a pilgrimage to Palestine. In 822, he became Abbott at Fulda, retiring in 842. In 847, he became archbishop of Mainz. He died at Winkel on the Rhine, February 4, 856. This distinguished Carolingian poet-theologian wrote extensive biblical commentaries, the Encyclopaedic De Universo, De Institutione Clericorum, and other works which circulated widely during the Middle Ages. Som… Go to person page >

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Veni Creator Spiritus, Mentes tuorum visita. [Whitsuntide.] In annotating this great hymn we shall deal (i.) with the manuscripts and the various forms of the Text; (ii.) with its Authorship and Date; and lastly (iii.) with the differences found in its Use.
i. Manuscripts and Text. From the 12th century onwards manuscripts of this hymn are innumerable, as it is commonly found in the Hymnals, Breviaries, &c, of almost all churches of the West. Before the 12th century copies are much less plentiful.
ii. Authorship and Date. It is curious how very little is known of the authorship of this hymn, which has taken deeper hold of the Western Church than any other mediaeval hymn, the Te Deum alone excepted. The real author is as yet unknown, but it has been ascribed (α) to the Emperor Charles the Great (Charlemagne), (ß) to St. Ambrose, (γ) to Gregory the Great, and to (δ) Rhabanus Maurus. The evidence is too scanty to draw a positive conclusion. The hymn is clearly not the work of St. Ambrose nor of Charles the Great. Nor is there sufficient evidence to allow us to ascribe it either to Gregory the Great, to Rhabanus Maurus, or to any of the ecclesiastics connected with the court of Charles the Fat. The references to the hymn do not help us much in determining the authorship, as the following facts will show.
The closing lines:—

”Te utriusque Spiritum
Credamus omni tempore,"

have been thought to imply that the hymn was written after the Council of Aachen (Aquisgranum or Aix-la-Chapelle) in 809, when the doctrine of the Double Procession was definitely promulgated. The hymn however does not emphasize the doctrine in any way, and similar language was used in the Western Church from a very early period.
iii. Use. In mediaeval times the singing of this hymn was generally marked with special dignity, by the ringing of bells, the use of incense, of lights, of the best vestments, &c. Its use in the Hour Services at Pentecost can be traced back, with tolerable certainty, to the 10th century. The earlier manuscript for the most part allot it only to Vespers, and so late as the 14th century Radulf, Dean of Tongres, giving the “Veni Creator" for Vespers, says that at the lesser hours “more Romano" the hymn was never changed. But some time before this date it had certainly been adopted in some churches at Tierce, for a St. Alban's Breviary of the 12th century gives it for this service and not for Vespers; and this was also the Sarum use. In two Mozarabic service-books of the 11th century, now in the British Museum, viz. a Breviary (Add. 30848), and an Antiphonary (Add. 30850), it is assigned to Lauds. It is also ordered for use at Lauds, as well as Vespers, in a German Breviary, circa 1100, now in the British Museum (Add. 18302); but otherwise its use at Lauds seems to be quite exceptional. In the Ordination Service its use has not been traced earlier than the 11th century.

The “Veni Creator Spiritus, Mentes” has frequently been translated into German. Through two of these versions it has passed into English as follows:—
i. Komm, Gott Schopfer, heiliger Geist. This is a full and faithful version by M. Luther, first published in Eyn Enchiridion, Erfurt, 1524. Translated as:—
1. Come, Thou Creator God. As an ode of 63 lines by Miss Fry, in her Hymns of the Reformation, 1845, p. 26.
2. Creator Spirit, Holy Dove. In full by R. Massie in his Martin Luther's Spiritual Songs, 1854, p. 35.
Other translations are:—
(1) "Come God, Creator! Holy Ghost! Thy, &c." By J. Anderson, 1846, p. 21. (2) “Creator Spirit! hear our prayer." By Dr. J. Hunt, 1853, p. 51. (3) "Come, God, Creator, Holy Ghost! And visit every.” By Miss Manington, 1863, p. 18. (4) "Come, God, Creator, Holy Ghost, Visit." By Dr. G. Macdonald in the Sunday Magazine , 1867, p. 387, altered in his Exotics , 1876, p. 56. (5) "Come, God, Creator, Holy Ghost, And visit Thou." In Dr. Bacon's Hymns of Martin Luther , 1884, p. 24, partly based on Mr. Massie's translation.
ii. Zu dir, Geist Schöpfer, flehen wir. This is a free version, in 8 stanzas of 4 lines, by J. A. Schlegel, first published in the 2nd ed., 1772, of his Sammlung geistlicher Gesäng (1st ed. 1766), p. 99, entitled " On the Names and Gifts of the Holy Ghost. The old Ambrosian hymn, 'Veni Creator Spiritus,' newly translated. A Whitsuntide hymn.” [Rev. James Mearns, M.A.]
The translations of the Veni Creator Spiritus direct from the Latin into English have been numerous and important. They include the following:—
1. Come Holy Ghost, eternal God. This translation in CM. in the Ordering of Priests in The Book of Common Prayer, was apparently printed in the Ordinal of 1549, and certainly in the 2nd book of Edward 6th, where it is given in 7 stanzas of 8 lines (British Museum).
2. Come, Holy Ghost, our souls inspire. By Bishop John Cosin. This is in his Collection of Private Devotions in the Practice of the Ancient Church, called the Hours of Prayer, &c., 1627. This book was modelled on the Primers which were extensively used during the reigns of Henry VII. and Elizabeth. It contains devotions and a hymn for each of the Canonical Hours, together with other devotions, hymns, and prayers.
3. Creator Spirit, by Whose aid . By J. Dryden. This appeared in his Miscellaneous Poems , pt. iii., 1693, and the Primer of 1706 and 1732, in 7 stanzas of unequal length, numbering 39 lines in all. It is found in numerous collections, both of the past and the present centuries, but always in an altered and abbreviated form. One of the first to adapt it for congregational purposes was J. Wesley, who included it in his Psalms & Hymns, 1741, in an abbreviated form. He was followed by G. Whitefield, 1753, A. M. Toplady, 1776, and others, until the adoption of the hymn became general. The variations which have been introduced into the text are so many and various that it is almost impossible to set them forth in an intelligible manner. In some American collections it begins "0 Source of uncreated light."
4. Come, Holy Ghost, Creator come, And visit all the souls of Thine >. By Tate and Brady in the Supplement to the New Version of the Psalms, &c, circa 1700.
5. Come, Holy Ghost, Creator, come, Inspire the [these] souls of Thine. Tate and Brady. This is the CM. version in the Supplement as above, circa 1700 (3rd ed., 1702).
6. Holy Spirit, gently come. By W. Hammond, in his Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs, &c, 1745, p. 205, in 5 stanzas of 8 lines.
7. Come, Holy Ghost, Creator blest, Come, visit Thou each willing breast. By Bishop R. Mant in his Ancient Hymns, 1837, p. 62, in 7 stanzas of 4 lines (ed. 1871, p. 110). Its use is limited.
8. Come, Holy Ghost, Creator, come. The 2nd stanza of this tr. in the Irvingite Hymns for the Churches, 1864 and 1871.
9. Come, Holy Ghost, Creator, come! The darkness of our minds illume. By F. W. Faber, in his Jesus and Mary , 1849, in 7 stanzas of 4 lines, and again in his Hymns, 1862.
10. Come, 0 Creator Spirit blest! And in our souls take up Thy rest. By E. Caswall in his Lyra Catholica, 1849, p. 103, in 7 st. of 4 1., and in his Hymns, 1873, p. 58. It is given in several modern hymnals.
11. Come, 0 Creator Spirit! Visit this [these] soul of Thine. By E. Caswall. This tr. of a slightly different text from the above.
12. Creator, Spirit, lord of grace. By R. Campbell, in his Hymns and Anthems, &c, 1850, p. 79, in 7 stanzas of 4 lines. with 11. 1, 2, of st. v. from Dryden.
13. Come, Holy Ghost, Creator blest, And visit every faithful breast. By Jane E. Leeson in her Paraphrases & Hymns, 1853, p. 81, in two parts. Pt. ii. beginning: "Come, Holy Ghost, with sacred fire."
14. Come, Holy Ghost, Creator, come, Down from Thy heavenly throne. This is given in the Irvingite Hymns for the Churches.
15. Come, Holy Ghost, Creator blest, And in our souls serenely rest. In the Catholic Psalmist, 1858, p. 65, and probably by T. J. Potter.
16. Come, Holy Ghost, Creator blest, Vouchsafe within our souls to rest . This is given in Hymns Ancient & Modern, 1861, and again in 1875.
17. Come, Holy Spirit, come, Inspire the souls of Thine. This translation was given anonymously in the Parish Hymn Book, 1863, No. 69.
18. Come, Holy Ghost, Creator, come, From Thy bright heav'nly throne. This appeared anonymously in the Hymns for the Year, 1867, and several later Roman Catholic collections.
Other translations are :—
1. Come, holy ghost, o creator eternall. Prymer (London), 1555.
2. Come, holy Ghoste that us hath made. Primer (Antwerp), 1599.
3. Creatour, holy Ghost descend, Visite our minds. Primer (Mechlin), 1615 and 1619.
4. Come Creator, Spirit divine, Visit now, &c. Primer (Antwerp), 1685.
5. Spirit, Creator of Mankind. Primer (London), 1687.
6. Creating-Spirit, come, possess. Evening Office, 1760. Also in 0. Shipley's Annus Sanctus, 1884.
7. Come, Holy Ghost, Creator come, From Thy celestial home. Garden of the Soul, 1737.
8. Come, Creator Spirit divine. Evening Office, 1748.
9. Come, Spirit, Whose creative power. Anon, in R. W. Almond's Occasional Use in the Parish of St. Peter, Nottingham, 1819.
10. Come Holy Ghost, Creator, come, And make these souls of ours Thine own. Bishop Doane, 1824.
11. Creator Spirit, come, Visit these souls of Thine. Bishop Doane, 1824.
12. Come Thou Creating Spirit blest, And be our Guest. J. Williams, 1839.
13. Come, Holy Ghost, 0 Thou alone. D. French, 1839.
14. Creator-Spirit, from Thy throne, Descend to make our souls Thine own. F. C. Husenbeth, 1841.
15. Come Spirit come! Thy dwelling-place. Bishop J. Williams, 1845.
16. Come, Holy Ghost, Creator come. St. ii., Thou, that art call'd the Paraclete. W. J. Copeland, 1848.
17. Creating Spirit, come! control And visit every willing soul. J. R. Beste, 1849.
18. Creator Spirit! Power divine. J. D. Chambers, in his Psalter, 1852, and Lauda Syon, 1857.
19. Come, Spirit blest, Creator come. W, J. Blew, 1852-55.
20. Creator Spirit, come and rest Within the souls, &c. W. Bright, in his Athanasius, &c, 1858.
21. Creator Spirit! come and bless us; Let Thy love and fear, &c. W. Crosswell, 1860.
22. Creating Spirit, Holy Guest. F. Trappes, 1865.
23. Spirit, heavenly life bestowing. E. C. Benedict, 1867.
24. Spirit creative, power divine. E. C. Benedict, 1851.
25. Come Thou Spirit, life bestowing. E. C. Benedict, 1867.
26. Creator Spirit, come in love, Our struggling souls, &c. D. T. Morgan, 1871.
27. Creator Spirit, come in love, And let our hearts, &c. D. T. Morgan, 1871 and 1880.
28. 0 Come, Creator Spirit, come. W. J. Irons, 1873.
29. Creator Spirit! be our Guest. J. Wallace, 1874.
30. Creator, Holy Spirit! come. H. M. Macgill. In The Juvenile Mission Magazine of the United Presbyterian Church, Jan. 1866, and his Songs, &c, 1876.
31. 0 Spirit, 0 Creator, come. G. S. Hodges, 1876.
32. Creator Spirit, all divine. J. D. Aylward, 1884.
33. O Holy Ghost, Creator, come. S. W. Duffield in Schaffs History of the Christian Church, vol. iv., 1886, p. 427, and Duffield's Latin Hymn-Writers, &c, 1889, p. 121.
The great similarity which is found in the majority of these translations suggests that many of the later translators were very much indebted to their predecessors for the terseness and vigour of their renderings. This suggestiveness is most apparent in the more striking passages of the hymn.

--Excerpts from John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)


Veni Creator Spiritus, Mentes, p. 1206, ii. Bp. Bickersteth has translated this as "Creator Spirit, make Thy throne" (tr. in 1880), and includes it with the Latin text and an extensive note in the 1890 ed. of his Hymnal Companion Several additional translations and altered forms of old renderings of this hymn are known to us; but being of minor importance are omitted here.

--John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology, Appendix, Part II (1907)



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