Veni Sancti Spiritus

A month or so ago I used the Veni Sancte Spiritus as a prayer at the end of a sermon.  A parishioner asked that I share it here.  The prayer, sometimes called the “Golden Sequence,” is prescribed in the Roman Liturgy for the Masses of Pentecost.  It is usually attributed to either the thirteenth-century Pope Innocent III or to the Archbishop of Canterbury Stephen Langton, among others.  In the second to last stanza the supplicant prays to receive the seven-fold gifts.

The seven-fold gifts (of the Holy Spirit) are: wisdom, understanding, counsel, knowledge, fortitude, piety, and fear of the Lord (wonder and awe).  Praying for the seven-fold gifts originated with patristic authors and was likely inspired by the characteristics that Isaiah attributes to the Messiah in chapter 11.1-3: 1 A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots.  2 The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. 3a His delight shall be fear of the Lord.  Notice that in the Masoretic Hebrew from which the NRSV is derived the “Spirit of the Lord” is described with six characteristics (wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, knowledge, fear of the Lord), and then the last characteristic (fear of the Lord) is mentioned a second time.

I like what Isaiah goes on to testify in the following verses:  isaiah_chagall3b He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide by what his ears hear; 4 but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked. 5 Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist, and faithfulness the belt around his loins.

                                                                                                                                                                                  -The Prophet Isaiah, by Marc Chagall Here’s the Golden Sequence:

Come, Holy Spirit,
send forth the heavenly
radiance of your light.

Come, father of the poor,
come, giver of gifts,
come, light of the heart.

Greatest comforter,
sweet guest of the soul,
sweet consolation.

In labor, rest,
in heat, temperance,
in tears, solace.

O most blessed light,
fill the inmost heart
of your faithful.

Without your grace,
there is nothing in us,
nothing that is not harmful.

Cleanse that which is unclean,
water that which is dry,
heal that which is wounded.

Bend that which is inflexible,
fire that which is chilled,
correct what goes astray.

Give to your faithful,
those who trust in you,
the sevenfold gifts.

Grant the reward of virtue,
grant the deliverance of salvation,
grant eternal joy.

Happy Monday,


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6 Responses to Veni Sancti Spiritus

  1. Eileen says:

    As Catholic school children we were taught the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. We memorized and rattled them off when about to be confirmed into the Church. In sixty years I’ve never learned the history or derivation of the gifts. It’s satisfying to know some of these things, and aren’t they among the most wonderful traits a human can hope to aspire to. Thanks for taking the time to remind us and really teach them, Jim.

  2. There is so much goodness and truth and trust in you Jim, in your prayers I feel it. You are really the most wonderful of all who are in Christ.

  3. You can only be converted by the Living God.

  4. I love you, Jim. I am walking hand in hand with Jesus; this is the right love. This is the love you need. It is not sin. It is purity.

  5. I have prayed with so many tears to Jesus personally, as you taught me, for your salvation and your closeness to Christ.

  6. Even though you and I are sick and sinful, yet I know in my heart of hearts that you are true, Jim. And I have never known a man more true than you. What does that mean? That you have Jesus in your heart. But you must follow HIM and not the congregation and not others and not work.

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