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Home > Catholic Encyclopedia > V > Veni Sancte Spiritus Et Emitte Coelitus

Veni Sancte Spiritus Et Emitte Coelitus

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The sequence for Pentecost (the "Golden Sequence"). It is sung at Mass from Whitsunday until the following Saturday inclusively, and comprises ten stanzas of the form:

Veni, Sancte Spiritus,
Et emitte coelitus
Lucis tuae radium.

Some hymnologists bind two such stanzas into one, doubtless in order to complete the rhythmic scheme for the third line, as in the case of the "Lauda Sion" and the "Stabat Mater". The peculiar feature of the "Veni Sancte Spiritus", however, the persistence throughout the hymn of the same rhythmic close in "ium" For all the stanzas — a feature imitated in Dr. Neale's translation (given in the Baltimore Manual of Prayers"). This version of the Anglican hymnologist is only less popular than that of Brother Caswall, which is found alike in Protestant and Catholic hymnals and in the "Raccolta" (Philadelphia, 1881). Dean Trench and others follow Durandus in ascribing the authorship of the sequence to Robert II, who reigned in France from 997-1031. With Cardinal Bona, Duffield gives it to Hermann Contractus and argues earnestly for the ascription. The sequence has indeed been found in manuscripts of the eleventh century, and of the twelfth, but written by a later hand, and the conclusion is drawn that it dates sometime after the middle of the twelfth century. This makes probable the ascription to Stephen Langton (q.v.), made by a writer whom Cardinal Pitra thinks an English Cistercian who lived about the year 1210. More probable is the ascription to Innocent III made by Ekkehard V in his "Vita S. Notkeri", written about 1220. Ekkehard, a monk of St. Gall, says that his abbot, Ulrich, was sent to Rome by Frederick II, conferred with the pope on various matters, and was present at the Mass of the Holy Spirit celebrated before the Holy Father. The sequence of the Mass was Sancti Spiritus adsit nobis gratia". Hereupon Ekkehard remarks (what he probably learned from Abbot Ulrich himself on his return to St. Gall) that the pope himself "had composed a sequence of the Holy Spirit, namely Veni Sancte Spiritus". The older sequence yielded but gradually to its rival, which was almost universally assigned to one or more days within the octave. The revised Missal of 1570 finally assigned it to Whitsunday and the octave. The revision (1634) under Urban VIII left, it unaltered. Well styled by medieval writers the "Golden Sequence", it has won universal esteem, the reasons for which are set forth by Clichtoveus, who in his "Elucidatorium" considers it "above all praise because of its wondrous sweetness, clarity of style, pleasant brevity combined with wealth of thought (so that every line is a sentence), and finally the constructive grace and elegance displayed in the skilful and apt juxtaposition of contrasting thoughts . Daniel applauds this appreciation. Gihr spends not a little space in his work on the Mass in praise of the hymn, and Julian accords it a careful and appreciative tribute.


Sources

KAYSER, Beiträge zur Gesch. u. Erklärung der alten Kirchen-hymnen, II (Paderborn, 1886), 61-76, a good commentary; JULIAN, Dict. of Hymnol. (2nd ed., London, 1907), 1212, 1721, discussion of authorship, first lines of trs., etc.; to his list should be added: BAGSHAWE, Breviary Hymns and Missal Sequences (London, s. d.), 36: "Come, O Holy Spirit, down ; DONAHOE, Early Christian Hymns (New York, 1908), 149: "Holy Spirit, come and shine"; Irish Monthly (Nov., 1887): "O Holy Spirit, come!"; Missal for the Use of the Laity (London, 1903), 410: "oly Spirit, come possess us", a four-lined stanza, etc. The version frequently used by Catholic sodalities is a revision of that by AUSTIN (1668): "Come Holy Spirit, send down those beams which gently flow in silent streams" etc. For indulgences, plenary and partial, attached to the recitation of the sequence, see tr. of the Raccolta. TRENCH, Sacred Latin Poetry (3rd ed., London, 1874), 198-9 for text with notes, and 197 for biographical notice of Robert II; Trench thinks the sequence "the loveliest . . . of all the hymns in the whole circle of Latin sacred poetry". DUFFIED, The Latin Hymn Writers and Their Hymns (New York, 1889), 149-68 (prose tr., 163). DREVES, Analecta Hymnica (Leipzig), for hymns founded on the sequence, e.g., IX, p. 199: Veni sancte Spiritus, Katharin coelitus Invitatus meritor; Consolator optime, Doctor disertissime, Katharinam instruens; O lux beatissima" etc.; for other illustrations see: X., 32, 122, 253; XXXVIII, 166; XXI, 56; XXXIX, 30; XL, 52; XLI, 195; XLII, 69. Hymns Ancient and Modern (hist. ed., London, 1909), 263-6 for Latin text, tr. based on CASWALL, plainsong and modern setting. The Vatican Graduale (Rome, 1908) gives the typical and official plain, song. SHIPLEY, Annus Sanctus (London, 1874), for trs. (pp. 164, 166, 169, 173: also, in Appendix, pp. 33-4, Primers of 1685 and 1706). The Seven Great Hymns of the Mediæval Church (7th ed., New York, 1868), 126-33, text and tr. of WINKWORTH. MARCH, Latin Hymns (New York, 1875), 92 (text), 268 (grammatical notes). JOHNER, An New School of Gregorian Chant (New York, 1906), 115: "Do not lengthen the accented syllables, as otherwise an unpleasant 6-8 time is unavoidable".

About this page

APA citation. Henry, H. (1912). Veni Sancte Spiritus Et Emitte Coelitus. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/15342a.htm

MLA citation. Henry, Hugh. "Veni Sancte Spiritus Et Emitte Coelitus." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 15. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/15342a.htm>.

Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Wm Stuart French, Jr. Dedicated to Rev. Raymond Geyer, O.S.B.

Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. October 1, 1912. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.

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