It’s easy to fall into one of two ditches regarding the Holy Spirit in our gathered worship services.
One the one hand, we can overemphasise the Holy Spirit’s work, and end up giving Him more attention than the other parts of the Trinity that the Spirit wants to direct our attention towards. And so we do things like plead for the Spirit to come, as if He isn’t already dwelling among Christians.
On the other hand, we can also underemphasise the Holy Spirit’s work, and go week after week in our songs and prayers not addressing or acknowledging the Spirit’s vital work in our regeneration, ongoing sanctification, assurance and more. And so we ignore Him completely even though He’s coequal with the Father and the Son.
In my private worship, I’ve appreciated using two songs addressed to the Holy Spirit to help me ponder His ministry in a balanced way. I think they’d both be suitable for congregational singing.
Holy fount of inspiration
By whose gift the great of old
Spoke the word of revelation
Marvellous and manifold
Chorus: God the Spirit we adore Thee,
In the Triune Godhead One
One in love and power and glory
With the Father and the Son
Author of the new creation,
Giver of the second birth
May thy ceaseless renovation
Cleanse our souls from stains of earth
When we wander Lord direct us,
Keep us in the Master’s way
Let they strong swift sword protect us
Warring in the evil day
Shall the church now faint or fear
When the Comforter is near
I love the tag that sums up the encouragement of the Holy Spirit’s ministry: “Shall the church now faint or fear, when the Comforter is near?”
The text was originally written in the 1860s by Samuel Stone (he wrote “The Church’s One Foundation”), who used them in this church to help his parishioners ponder the various articles of the Apostles’ Creed.
This one by Stuart Townend and Keith Getty has a more reflective, circumspect sound, featuring a beautiful oboe solo. The Gettys have recorded it here as more of a solo item, but the easy hymn meter lends itself to congregational singing too. There are some excellent words here – I love the repeated appeals that the Holy Spirit would point us to Christ:
Holy Spirit, living Breath of God,
Breathe new life into my willing soul.
Bring the presence of the risen Lord
To renew my heart and make me whole.
Cause Your Word to come alive in me;
Give me faith for what I cannot see;
Give me passion for Your purity.
Holy Spirit, breathe new life in me.
Holy Spirit, come abide within;
May Your joy be seen in all I do—
Love enough to cover ev’ry sin
In each thought and deed and attitude,
Kindness to the greatest and the least,
Gentleness that sows the path of peace.
Turn my striving into works of grace.
Breath of God, show Christ in all I do.
Holy Spirit, from creation’s birth,
Giving life to all that God has made,
Show Your power once again on earth;
Cause Your church to hunger for Your ways.
Let the fragrance of our prayers arise.
Lead us on the road of sacrifice
That in unity the face of Christ
Will be clear for all the world to see.
Words and Music by Keith Getty & Stuart Townend
© 2006 Thankyou Music
There’s other hymns that address the Holy Spirit too:
- Come Thou Almighty King has a verse for each of the members of the Trinity, and in verse 3 addresses the Holy Spirit (“Come, holy Comforter, Thy sacred witness bear, In this glad hour: Thou who Almighty art, Now rule in every heart, And ne’er from us depart, Spirit of power.”)
- Cardiophonia’s Pentecost Songs album have a collection of 25 songs and hymns written to celebrate the person and work of the Holy Spirit, composed at various points between the 9th century and the 21st.
What other songs do you use to consider the person and work of the Holy Spirit?