Sunday, May 31, 2009
The Feast of Pentecost
Many churches observe the day of Pentecost to mark the descent of the Holy Spirit on the followers of Jesus, as told in Acts 2:1-17. We remember the rushing wind, the tongues of flame that came to rest on them, and their speaking and understanding many different languages.
I think this hymn by the Unitarian Frederick Lucian Hosmer combines the prophetic passage from the book of Joel that Peter alludes to in Acts ("...I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy...") with Hosmer's own favored theme of unity (i.e., the multitude of languages that are all understood as one). This Pentecost experience did not only happen long ago but is still open to us today.
O prophet souls of all the years,
Speak yet to us in love;
Your far-off vision, toil and tears
To their fulfillment move.
From tropic clime and zones of frost,
They come, of every name;
This, this our day of Pentecost,
On us the tongues of flame.
One Life together we confess,
One all-indwelling Word,
One holy call to righteousness,
Within the silence heard.
One Law that guides the shining spheres
As on through space they roll,
And speaks in flaming characters
On Sinais of the soul.
One Love unfathomed, measureless,
An ever-flowing sea,
That holds within its vast embrace
Time and eternity.
Frederick Lucian Hosmer, 1893
Tune: GRAFENBERG (C.M.)
Johann Cruger, 1653
You may recall that the tune GRAFENBERG was already used here for another hymn of the Holy Spirit.
P.S. The painting above, depicting Jesus' mother at the center of the first Pentecost event, is by Jean Restout II, dating from the 18th century and currently held by the Louvre.
One (Liturgical) Year Ago: The Feast of Pentecost
One (Calendar) Year Ago: The Feast of the Visitation