Posted by: rcottrill | July 5, 2017

Creator Spirit, by Whose Aid

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Words: Ambrose of Milan (b. circa 340; d. 397); translator John Dryden (b. Aug. 9, 1631; d. May 1, 1700)
Music: St. Catherine, by James George Walton (b. Feb. 19, 1821; d. Sept. 1:1905)

Wordwise Hymns (Ambrose of Milan)
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: This hymn is so ancient that the original authorship is not entirely certain. Some believe it was composed by Ambrose of Milan, which would make it sixteen centuries old. Yet it is still sung in churches today. Ambrose was a Roman governor of Northern Italy, and later served as the Christian bishop of Milan. The hymn has been translated or paraphrased many times.

The version quoted here is by John Dryden, the poet laureate of Britain. The Cyber Hymnal lists three possible tunes for the hymn. I have chosen to use St. Catherine (to which we sing Faith of Our Fathers).

How often have you had a plumbing problem at home, and wished you had an expert on the spot to guide you? Or something wrong with the car, and lacked a master mechanic to lend a hand? There are experts around, of course, though they are sometimes inaccessible, either because of distance, or the high cost of their services.

But let’s make it more personal. When it comes to our own character, and our ability to handle life in a meaningful and productive way, we could use a practiced hand to help there too. And imagine if great artists in other fields could be commandeered for the purpose, using their gifts to the repair and develop our souls. (It may seem an odd comparison, but bear with me.)

Antonio Stradivari was a violin maker, three centuries ago. But the amazing tone of the instruments he made is legendary, and they are still in demand today for astronomical prices. Imagine if he could work his magic on our inner selves and equip us to enrich others with the music of our lives. Or what if the painter Rembrandt could apply his skill to our characters so they would have a beauty that blessed those around us? Or what if Shakespeare could inspire our tongues with glorious words that would convey wisdom and grace to all who heard them?

In truth, there is Someone who is ready to do this work, and that is God, the ultimate expert Helper. Speaking of Him Ephesians says, “We are His workmanship” (Eph. 2:10). The Greek word translated “workmanship” is poiema, from which we get our word poem. In a real sense, through faith in Christ, each person becomes a work of art in the hands of God. “The Lord, He is God; it is He who has made us” (Ps. 100:3). And as we cooperate with what He is doing in our lives, “the Lord will perfect that which concerns [us]” (Ps. 138:8).

The maturing and perfecting work of God is, in a real sense, the completion of His original creative work. The triune Godhead was involved in creation, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God the Father had a part in that, as did God the Son (II Cor. 8:6; Eph. 3:9). But we sometimes forget that the Spirit of God was an active agent in creation too. He was there in the beginning (Gen. 1:2), and continued to be involved (Job 26:13; 33:4).

The work of the Holy Spirit, in bringing us to spiritual maturity, first involves the new birth, a spiritual rebirth that comes through faith in Christ (Jn. 1:12-13; 3:3, 6). And the Christian is said to be indwelt by the Spirit (Rom. 5:5). Part of His work in us is to bring us more and more to Christlikeness (Rom. 8:29). And “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Gal. 5:22-23).

All of this leads us to the text of a very old hymn, called in Latin Veni Creator Spiritus (Come, Creator Spirit). Dryden’s text says:

CH-1) Creator Spirit, by whose aid
The world’s foundations first were laid,
Come, visit every waiting mind;
Come, pour Thy joys on human kind;
From sin, and sorrow set us free;
And make Thy temples worthy Thee.

CH-4) Refine and purge our earthly parts;
But, oh, inflame and fire our hearts!
Our frailties help, our vice control;
Submit the senses to the soul;
And when rebellious they are grown,
Then, lay Thy hand, and hold them down.

CH-5) Create all new; our wills control,
Subdue the rebel in our soul;
Make us eternal truths receive,
And practice all that we believe;
Give us Thyself, that we may see
The Father and the Son by Thee.

1) How do our lives compare to a beautiful poem?

2) What is the area the Lord and you are working on especially, in your own life?

Wordwise Hymns (Ambrose of Milan)
The Cyber Hymnal


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