Friday, May 26, 2006

The hymn thing again

So what is your favorite/least favorite Pentecost-Holy Spirit hymn?

I have to say that Spirit, Spirit of Gentleness is starting to work on my last nerve. The words are okay, but it's just too darn slow. Even with a good organist doing his/her level best, it always ends up sounding like the congregation is dragging itself through a vat of oily peanut butter by about the middle of verse three.

On Pentecost they gathered Quite Early in the Day is so rhymey rhymey that I expect Burma Shave to appear at the end of a stanza before it's all over.

I guess on this holiday I end up a traditionalist: I like Spirit of the Living God, Blessed Quietness, and Come Holy Ghost, Our Souls Inspire.

16 comments:

cheesehead said...

Well, you are obviously working a week ahead of me! I will probably start thinking seriously about this, oh, about Tuesday. I should really write tomorrow's sermon first.

But---since you asked, I hear you about "Spirit". By the "valleys of sleep" I've had quite enough, thank you.

I know what ever I choose, "Wind Who Makes all Winds that Blow" will end up on my list. Because of that Welsh thing. (I have to throw the people a bone once in awhile.) But while I'm singing it, I will be thinking about the watchman.

peripateticpolarbear said...

Spirit works my last singsongy nerve. But I am ALWAYS stuck with a congregation that LOVES it.

Quotidian Grace said...

Ditto cheesehead and Polar Bear and you--Spirit is a snore. And I'm sure we'll have to sing it, too.

Songbird said...

I loathe "Spirit of Gentleness," especially when accompanied by an organ. Maybe it's better with guitars?
I like "There's a Sweet, Sweet Spirit," but sadly my congregation didn't know it (despite having it in the hymnal since 1976), and still struggles to sing it.
I love "Spirit of the Living God," which is appropriately ooky-spooky, I think.
cheesehead I don't know that one, but if it's Welsh, i would probably love it.

zorra said...

OK, minority opinion here: I love "Spirit". I was chagrined several Pentecosts ago when the verse about Jesus and Pentecost was inadvertently left out of the bulletin, so, uh, we didn't sing it...

The one that annoys me (this is probably a minority opinion too) is "Like the Murmur of the Dove's Song". Some of the lyrics are clunky ("the new flame's eager might"?) and so are both of the melodies it's usually set to. Just me, I know.

cheesehead said...

Songbird: It's "Watchman tell us of the night" (tune: Aberystwyth) with Pentecost-y words by Troeger.

Teri said...

dang...I read this in the round-up and my FIRST thought was "spi....ri....t....spp....iii....rrriiittt...of gennnnnntttlllllleeeennessssssssss...." (gag). It's not better with guitar, piano, organ, drums, or a capella. In no way have I EVER sung that song (in church or seminary or youth group or at a young-adult gathering or as a YAV) and had it go well. ugh.

Now that I'm singing that in my head (thanks) I can't even think of another Pentecost hymn. In fact, I might prefer not to think at all. LOL!

revabi said...

Well, I don't even know the Spirit, Spirit of Gentleness, But I grew up with Spirit of the Living God, learned the other, Come Holy Ghost, Our Souls Inspire.

But this church does a few praise choruses so we will probably do Surely the Presense, Sweet Holy Spirit and/or Spirit Song.

And Cheesehead I am still pulling together my thoughts too.

reverendmother said...

I agree about Spirit. And we sing it every single year. We don't even have an organ, still it's ponderous.

I like "Every Time I Feel the Spirit" on piano and/or guitar with a good tambourine, as long as people can do the harmony.

Rainbow Pastor said...

Breathe on Me Breath of God AKA The Halitosis Hymn...my least favourite.

Although Spirit of the Living God is close... way too draggy and slow. If you speed it up, ir doesn't sound right, either.

Pentecost and Good Shepherd Sunday--the two days I am especially glad I have a musician to deal with those impossible choices.

She Comes Sailing on the WInd is good as a solo, not congregationally sung, BTW.

Songbird said...

Cheesehead, that means I would love it. That's one of my favorite tunes ever. And I just found it in a sample hymnal I have here at home. I'm so excited!!!
rm, I enjoy Ev'ry Time I Feel the Spirit when the choir sings it, but the verses are a challenge for the congregation...

Kathryn said...

Come down, oh love divine (the place for which the tune is named is just down the road at Down Ampney) is on my favourites list, together (of course) with Oh thou who camest from above (which was the Gradual hymn at my first Eucharist last year)...
This side of the Pond, we're protected from Spirit, Spirit of gentleness...don't know it at all.
I used to love Spirit of the living God (well, part of me still does) till I found myself in a congregation with a survivor of abuse. It made me hear those "break me, mould me" words so differently...

Cordelia's Mother said...

Well, tomorrow I will find out what we sing at Big Landmark Church on Pentecost. The remarks about Spirit of Gentleness and On Pentecost They Gathered made me snort with laughter! I like Come Down O Love Divine also, and am quite fond of Blessed Quietness, and also the one we call Holy Spirit, Truth Divine, with the lovely Louis Moreau Gottschalk tune (the cyberhymnal has slightly different words). And I would think I had died and gone to heaven if we sang There's a Sweet, Sweet Spirit -- but we don't get a lot of gospel (music that is) here.

Transcendentalist said...

Ran across this blog while trying to find the lyrics to "Spirit, Spirit of Gentleness". How unfortunate that everyone hates it. That is the one Christian hymn that I actually enjoy, and gives me shivers every time I hear it.

Shelley said...

Too funny. We had to sing this incessantly in my father's last church, as the author's brother was a congregant and choir member. My siblings and I all had a lovely time making up off-color verses and singing them under our breath.

At my church here in Oregon, I once had to sing it two Sundays in a row while the minister was on vacation... I almost died laughing.

robert said...

There are few good hymns about the Holy Spirit and His ministries, perhaps in part because many of the old hymnists were not entirely clear and biblical on this area of doctrine.

Another good hymn on the subject is George Croly's "Spirit of God, Descend Upon My Heart." Even this seems, in a way, to take us back to a pre-Pentecost position. One hymnal changes the second-to-last line from "The baptism of the heaven-descended Dove" to "The kindling of the heaven-descended Dove." It avoids the confusion between the Spirit's baptizing and filling work.

Incidentally, today is the 415th anniversary of the birth of John Cosin, who gave us "Come, Holy Ghost, Our Souls Inspire."