Aquinas and the Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit gets to tussle with Thomas Aquinas in this pairing. No question that the angelic doctor is a deeper favorite in Catholicism than even Marty Haugen. I’ve lost track of the Aquinas hymns in the Dance. Is this number four or five?

Neither of these tunes made it to the NPM top-25, but both are undeniably favorites in many parishes. “Come Holy Ghost” makes an annual appearance at the end of the Fifty Days. But it seems like every Catholic I’ve ever known knows it well. Most don’t know or recognize it as an adaptation of the plainchant hymn, “Veni Creator Spiritus.”

Pope John Paul II’s commentary on it:

This ancient liturgical hymn reminds every priest of his Ordination day, recalling the commitment made in that unique moment to be completely open to the action of the Holy Spirit. It reminds him as well of the Paraclete’s special assistance and of the many moments of grace, joy and intimacy which the Lord has granted him to enjoy on his life’s journey.

The Belgian Jesuit Louis Lambillotte compsed the hymn tune most often sung to this English adaptation. Interesting, since Fr Lambillotte’s love was for Gregorian chant.

Adoro Te Devote is yet another Thomas Aquinas entry into the Dance. This tune may not be quite as well-known as “Come Holy Ghost.” Though parishes, if they sing it at all, probably sing it more often. Fr Edward McNamara’s commentary on it from Zenit a few years ago:

Effectively there are two variants of this beautiful hymn. Most of the variations occur in the first two verses. The substitution of the words “posset omni scélere” for “quit ab omni scélere” in the second-to-last verse and “cupio” for “sitio” in the closing one are practically the only other changes. This hymn is usually attributed to St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) even though the earliest extant manuscript hails from about 50 years after his death. References to Aquinas’ hymn in the writings of his Franciscan contemporary Jacopone da Todi (1228-1306, author of the Stabat Mater) tend to confirm its authenticity. In spite of its saintly authorship the hymn never entered into the official liturgy and was only saved from obscurity when Pope St. Pius V included it among the prayers of thanksgiving after communion in his missal of 1570. Paul VI incorporated it into the Roman ritual, using a critical text established by the liturgist Dom André Wilmart.


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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One Response to Aquinas and the Holy Spirit

  1. Pingback: Green & Red Brackets « Catholic Sensibility

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