Veni Creator Spiritus

"Veni Creator Spiritus" (Come, Creator Spirit) is a traditional Christian hymn believed to have been written by Rabanus Maurus, a ninth-century German monk, teacher, and archbishop. When the original Latin text is used, it is normally sung in Gregorian Chant. It has been translated and paraphrased into several languages, and adapted into many musical forms, often as a hymn for Pentecost or for other occasions that focus on the Holy Spirit.

Veni Creator Spiritus
Veni Creator Spiritus-1.jpg
First verse
EnglishCome, Creator Spirit
Written9th century
Textattributed to Rabanus Maurus
Meter8 8 8 8
MelodyGregorian chant

Liturgical useEdit

As an invocation of the Holy Spirit, Veni Creator Spiritus is sung in the Catholic Church during liturgical celebrations on the feast of Pentecost (at both Terce and Vespers). It is also sung at occasions such as the entrance of Cardinals to the Sistine Chapel when they elect a new pope, as well as at the consecration of bishops, the ordination of priests, the sacrament of Confirmation, the dedication of churches, the celebration of synods or councils, the coronation of monarchs, the profession of members of religious institutes, and other similar solemn events. There are also Catholic traditions of singing the hymn on New Year's Day for plenary indulgence.

Martin Luther used the hymn as the basis for his Pentecost chorale "Komm, Gott Schöpfer, Heiliger Geist", first published in 1524.

Veni Creator Spiritus is also widely used in the Anglican Communion and appears, for example, in the Ordering of Priests and in the Consecration of Bishops in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, and in the Novena to The Holy Ghost in Saint Augustine's Prayer Book (1947).[1] The translation "Come Holy Ghost, our souls inspire" was by Bishop John Cosin in 1625, and has been used for all subsequent British coronations. Another English example is "Creator Spirit, by whose aid", written in 1690 by John Dryden and published in The Church Hymn Book (1872, n. 313).


Many variations exist. The following Latin and English versions were recently published by the Vatican:

Latin text[2]
English version[2]
Veni, creator Spiritus,
mentes tuorum visita,
imple superna gratia,
quae tu creasti, pectora.
Come, Holy Ghost, Creator, come
from thy bright heav'nly throne;
come, take possession of our souls,
and make them all thine own.
Qui diceris Paraclitus,
donum Dei altissimi,
fons vivus, ignis, caritas,
et spiritalis unctio.
Thou who art called the Paraclete,
best gift of God above,
the living spring, the living fire,
sweet unction and true love.
Tu septiformis munere,
dextrae Dei tu digitus,
tu rite promissum Patris,
sermone ditans guttura.
Thou who art sevenfold in thy grace,
finger of God's right hand;
his promise, teaching little ones
to speak and understand.
Accende lumen sensibus,
infunde amorem cordibus,
infirma nostri corporis
virtute firmans perpeti.
O guide our minds with thy blest light,
with love our hearts inflame;
and with thy strength, which ne'er decays,
confirm our mortal frame.
Hostem repellas longius
pacemque dones protinus;
ductore sic te praevio
vitemus omne noxium.
Far from us drive our deadly foe;
true peace unto us bring;
and through all perils lead us safe
beneath thy sacred wing.
Per te sciamus da Patrem
noscamus atque Filium,
te utriusque Spiritum
credamus omni tempore.
Through thee may we the Father know,
through thee th'eternal Son,
and thee the Spirit of them both,
thrice-blessed three in One.

In some instances, a doxology follows:[3]

Deo Patri sit gloria,
et Filio qui a mortuis
surrexit, ac Paraclito,
in saeculorum saecula.
All glory to the Father be,
with his coequal Son;
the same to thee, great Paraclete,
while endless ages run.

Notable English translationsEdit

Since the English Reformation in the 16th century, there have been more than fifty English-language translations and paraphrases of Veni Creator Spiritus.[4] The version attributed to Archbishop Cranmer, his sole venture into English verse, first appeared in the Prayer Book Ordinal of 1550. It was the only metrical hymn included in the Edwardian liturgy. In 1561 John Day included it after the psalms in his incomplete metrical psalter of that year. From 1562 onwards, in The Whole Booke of Psalmes, Day printed Cranmer's version at the start of the metrical paraphrases.[5] In terms of concision and accuracy, Cranmer compares poorly with Luther. Cranmer's sixth stanza, which mentions the Last Judgement and religious strife within Christendom ("the last dreadful day... strife and dissension..."), was a new addition, with no parallel in the Latin original or in Luther's version.

The version included in the 1662 revision of the Book of Common Prayer compressed the content of the original seven verses into four (with a two-line doxology), but retained the Latin title. It was written by Bishop John Cosin for the coronation of King Charles I of Great Britain in 1625.[6] The same words have been used at every coronation since, sung by the choir after the Creed and before the Anointing.[7] The first verse is:

Come, Holy Ghost, our souls inspire,
and lighten with celestial fire.
Thou the anointing Spirit art,
who dost thy sevenfold gifts impart.[8]

Another well-known version by the poet John Dryden was first published in his 1693 work, Examen Poeticum. It may be sung to the tune "Melita" by John Bacchus Dykes,[9] and excerpts of the Dryden text have been set to the German hymn tune "Lasst uns erfreuen".[10] Dryden's first verse is:

Creator Spirit, by whose aid
The world's foundations first were laid,
Come, visit every pious mind;
Come, pour thy joys on humankind;
From sin and sorrow set us free,
And make thy temples worthy thee.

German paraphrasesEdit

Martin Luther wrote a paraphrase in German, "Komm, Gott Schöpfer, Heiliger Geist" (literally: Come, God Creator, Holy Ghost) as a Lutheran hymn for Pentecost, first published in 1524, with a melody derived from the chant of the Latin hymn. It appears in the Protestant hymnal Evangelisches Gesangbuch as EG 126.

Heinrich Bone published his own German paraphrase in 1845, "Komm, Schöpfer Geist, kehr bei uns ein" (literally: Come, Creator Spirit, visit us), also using an adaptation of the plainchant melody. It appears in the German Catholic hymnal Gotteslob (2013) and its 1975 predecessor.

A rhymed German translation or paraphrase, "Komm, Heiliger Geist, der Leben schafft" (literally: Come, Holy Spirit who creates life), was written by Friedrich Dörr to a melody close to the Gregorian melody, published in 1972. It became part of the common German Catholic hymnal Gotteslob in 1975, and of its second edition in 2013, as GL 342 in the section "Pfingsten – Heiliger Geist" (Pentecost – Holy Spirit).

Musical settingsEdit

Over the centuries, Veni Creator Spiritus has inspired the following works by notable composers, in approximate chronological order:


  1. ^ Saint Augustine's Prayer Book (1967) [1947]. (Revised ed.) West Park, New York: Holy Cross Publications. p. 316.
  2. ^ a b "Mass and Rite of Canonisation" (PDF). pp. 32–35. Retrieved 18 October 2015.
  3. ^ "Come, Holy Ghost, Creator, Come / Veni Creator Spiritus". Breviary Hymns. 7 January 2013. Retrieved 4 June 2017.
  4. ^ Charles S. Nutter; Wilbur F. Tillett. The Hymns and Hymn Writers of The Church (Smith & Lamar, 1911), p. 108.
  5. ^ Beth Quitslund, The Reformation in Rhyme: Sternhold, Hopkins and the English Metrical Psalter (Ashgate, 2008), pp. 204, 229.
  6. ^ Ivan D. Aquilina, The Eucharistic Understanding of John Cosin and His Contribution to the 1662 Book Of Common Prayer (University of Leeds, 2002), p. 6.
  7. ^ "Guide to the Coronation Service". Westminster Abbey. Archived 11 December 2013.
  8. ^ "The Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II". Retrieved 14 October 2020.
  9. ^ "Creator Spirit, by whose aid". Retrieved 14 October 2020.
  10. ^ "Creator Spirit, By Whose Aid" (PDF). Oregon Catholic Press. Retrieved 9 May 2017.

External linksEdit