• Iain McLarty

Pentecost B

Acts 2:1-21

Psalm 104:24-34, 35b

Romans 8:22-27

John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15


You can find a YouTube playlist here with many of the songs suggested below.



Gathering


Hail thee, Festival Day (CH 581) and Come down, O love divine (CH 489 / MP 89) are classic opening hymns for Pentecost Sunday while Spirit of truth and grace (CH 608) is an alternative text to the latter tune which picks up many of the themes from the readings. You could also consider songs which call for the presence of the Holy Spirit and there are songs in a wide variety of styles ranging from the 9th century plainchant hymn Come, Holy Ghost, our souls inspire (CH 586 / MP 90) to contemporary hymn and worship songs such as Be still for the presence of the Lord (CH 189 / MP 50) or Holy Spirit (CCLI). The reading from Acts also makes it particularly appropriate to use songs in a variety of languages and a short song such as Come O Holy Spirit / Wa Wa Wa Emimimo (WGRG) would be very easy for a congregation to learn.



Word


There are quite a few songs which are well suited to singing before the reading of Scripture at Pentecost including Spirit of God, unseen as the wind (CH 600 / MP 1351), set to the beautifully lilting Skye Boat Song, and Listen now for the Gospel (CH 779), a simple call and response from Zimbabwe.


Many settings of Psalm 104 focus on the first section and on God as creator. However, for today’s readings it’s important to find songs which include v30 and the focus on the Spirit. Probably the easiest metrical setting to use is Your Spirit, O Lord, makes life to abound (PFAS 104E / Hymnary) which is sung to Hanover and where you can choose the appropriate verses to sing. Apart from that it would be simplest to sing the psalm responsorially and there are some very attractive refrains you can use such as Send forth your Spirit, O Lord (PFAS 104D), Lord, send out your Spirit (GIA) and Creator Spirit, come we pray (PFAS 104G), the latter using an excerpt of the Veni Creator Spiritus plainchant melody.



Response


There is a lot of overlap between songs that are relevant for the readings today. Firstly, there are songs which explore the role and actions of the Holy Spirit throughout the Bible such as She sits like a bird (Enemy of apathy) (CH 593), Holy Spirit, gift bestower (CH 590) and Praise the Spirit in creation (CH 588). As the wind song through the trees (Hymnary) turns this idea on its head by tackling head on our inability to see the Spirit but instead to see the result of its actions, summed up beautifully in the line “never see, ever known”.


There are many songs which call for the presence of the Spirit in our lives today, with Breathe on me, breath of God (CH 596 / MP 67) and Spirit of the living God (CH 619 / MP 613) probably the best known while Holy Spirit, living breath of God (MP 1183 / CCLI / Getty) and Breath of God (Common) are some more contemporary options here. Short chants such as Come, Holy Spirit, descend on us (CH 589 / MP 818) and Come, come, O Holy Spirit / Ven, Espíritu Santo (GSW 24) could be used either as more reflective songs or as prayer responses.


The Spirit interceding in our lives is a theme from Romans and Loving Spirit, loving Spirit (CH 597), Fresh wind (CCLI) and Spirit of love, you move within creation (CH 618) and can all link to this in different ways. This passage also has the famous and challenging line that “the whole creation has been groaning” which is often used in relation to the climate crisis and Nature shines with beauty (Resound) gives us an opportunity to reflect on this.


The Gospel focuses on the “Spirit of truth” and we can link to this in hymns such as Come, Holy Ghost, our hearts/souls inspire (CH 598) and Great and deep the Spirit’s purpose (CH 617) or the wonderful Tanzanian song Gracious Spirit, hear our pleading (CH 613) which can of course be sung a capella or with simple hand percussion but also works wonderfully with a Gospel feel. Spirit of God (Resound) is a simple three part round which would also tie into this theme.



Sending


As we go out into the world we want to call on the Spirit to act in and transform our lives. Pentecost seems to be a time when it’s popular to set new words to well-known tunes and God’s Spirit is here (WGRG) is a call to follow the dance the Spirit leads us in which can be sung to tunes such as Hanover or Laudate Dominum while Come, Holy Spirit, come (CH 594) is sung to Diademata and picks up some images from the readings today while calling for transformation. Holy Spirit rain down (CCLI) is a 90s Hillsong number which offers a laid back and jazzy contrast to the style of many more recent songs which could start reflectively and then build, while Spirit break out (CCLI) is a more recent worship song to consider. Finally, there are songs which focus on the Spirit of the Lord setting us free such as If you believe and I believe (CH 771) and Free amen (CCLI).



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