Posted by: rcottrill | November 23, 2012

Spirit of God, Descend Upon My Heart

Words: George Croly (b. Aug. 17, 1780; d. Nov. 24, 1860)
Music: Morecambe, by Frederick Cook Atkinson (b. Aug. 21, 1841; d. Nov. 30, 1896)

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: This is a marvelous and passionate hymn on the ministry of the Holy Spirit. (A slight qualification of that statement is discussed further in the Wordwise Hymns link.) On the whole, the song is far superior to many hymns about the third Person of the Trinity, songs that fail to recognize the post-Pentecost position of the church of Jesus Christ. George Croly, a faithful evangelical pastor, offers a powerful prayer that is worthy to be repeated by us all.

In CH-1 the prayer hymn calls upon God to “wean [our hearts] from earth, teaching us to love Him as we ought to. This contrast is discussed by the Apostle John. And notice how love for God is paralleled not only with avoiding worldly values and priorities, but with obedience to God. That was a prominent theme in the Lord’s Upper Room Discourse (Jn. 14:15, 21, 24; 15:10).

“Whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him….Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world–the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life–is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.” (I Jn. 2:5, 15-17)

CH-2. There is no need for us to seek the kind of other-worldly supernatural manifestations sometimes experienced by prophets in the Scriptures. Rather, in order the know God more deeply and obey Him more fully, the hymn writer prayers, “take the dimness of my soul away.” In other words, what we need is spiritual insight and godly wisdom. As we meditate upon, and apply God’s Word, the Holy Spirit teaches us. “Through Your precepts I get understanding; Therefore I hate every false way. Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path” (Ps. 119:104-105; cf. II Tim. 2:7).

CH-3. We can also pray that the Lord will remind us and give us an awareness of His promised presence (cf. Matt. 28:20), teaching us patience in times when prayers seem to go unanswered, and teaching us to trust Him, rather than doubt and rebel. “The rebel sigh” is a colourful turn of phrase. It speaks of an impatient irritation with what the Lord is doing, or not doing, breeding the sarcasm of the scoffer:

“Scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, ‘Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation’” (II Pet. 3:3-4).

CH-3 Teach me to feel that Thou art always nigh;
Teach me the struggles of the soul to bear.
To check the rising doubt, the rebel sigh,
Teach me the patience of unanswered prayer.

CH-4 and 5. As the hymn draws to a close, there’s an earnest plea to love God more wholeheartedly, “as Thine angels love, one holy passion filling all my frame.” With the psalmist, the writer wants to seek after God, and find Him, in continuing and deepening fellowship.

“As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God” (Ps. 42:1). “O God, You are my God; early will I seek You; my soul thirsts for You; my flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water. So I have looked for You in the sanctuary, to see Your power and Your glory” (Ps. 63:1-2). “ My soul longs, yes, even faints for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God” (Ps. 84:2).

CH-4) Hast Thou not bid me love Thee, God and King?
All, all Thine own, soul, heart and strength and mind.
I see Thy cross; there teach my heart to cling:
O let me seek Thee, and O let me find!

1) Why is this kind of passion so often lacking in our lives? (And what can we do to nurture it?)

2) What other hymns about the Person and work of the Holy Spirit would you be willing to use?

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal


  1. I’ve been trying to find the lyrics (and if possible, music) for another hymn written by George Croly. Would you have any suggestions for finding “Lord, Who Hast Sought Us Out, Un­sought”? Thanks for your advice.

    • Good news! I contacted my friend Dick Adams, creator of the Cyber Hymnal. Your quest inspired him to do his own skillful search. He found Croly’s hymn, and posted it on his site. You can see it here. Thanks again for the question. It motivated us to do some digging. 🙂

      • Wow, that was fast! Thanks to you and Dick Adams for your help.


%d bloggers like this: