It is for 4 weeks only. This week we are looking at the background to the hymns.
The hymn for Monday Week 4 Morning Prayer : also Monday Week 2 Morning Prayer : begins with the lines “Come, O Creator Spirit, come, and make within our hearts Your home” and has four stanzas.
Originally this hymn was in Latin, and very famous, as the Veni Creator Spiritus. Of venerable origin this Latin hymn is attributed to St Rabanus Maurus, 776-856, a 9th century Benedictine abbot who became Archbishop of Mainz in Germany and who studied under an extraordinary teacher named Alcuin of York. To the young Rabanus was given the nickname Maurus by Alcuin: Maurus being the name of the first disciple of St Benedict of Nursia – founder of the Benedictine order.
The Veni Creator Spiritus is sung at very special occasions to invoke the help of the Holy Spirit. Versions of it are sung at Pentecost. It is particularly sung in Latin at the beginning of a papal conclave, at the beginning of Vatican II and other Councils and Synods, at the consecration of bishops and the ordination of priests, at the dedication of churches, whenever a religious profession is made, and at the coronation of monarchs. Recently it was sung in Latin at Westminster Abbey for the coronation of King Charles III. It is also highly recommended as the hymn to start each new year with. It was sung at the beginning of the retreat by Duquesne University students in Feb 1967 that God used to begin the Catholic Charismatic Renewal.
But we pray a truncated version of this Veni Creator Spiritus in English on these Mondays of Morning Prayer. The person who translated it was Robert Seymour Bridges, 1844-1930, an Englishman who was England’s poet laureate in 1913. He studied medicine at Oxford, became a physician for a while, but then moved into writing poetry and translating hymns as a full time occupation.
Whenever we pray this hymn as part of Morning Prayer it becomes a gentle reminder to start each new week with seeking the help of the Holy Spirit.
But it is also a reminder to work to the best of our ability with the gifts and talents that God has given us. When we do that, like Alcuin and Rabanus Maurus and Robert did, then God crowns that inspired work with His favour and causes it to be used in ways far beyond what they could ever have imagined.
St Rabanus Maurus, pray for us.