Veni Creator Spiritus

A Pentecost Prelude (based on 'Veni Creator Spiritus')     C. Callahan
Susan Addington — Flute

[Offertory by Bells]


'Veni Creator Spritus' ('Come, Creator Spirit') is a hymn text believed to have been written by Rabanus Maurus in the 9th century. When the original Latin text is used, it is normally sung in Gregorian Chant.

Rabanus Maurus Magnentius (c.780 – 856) was a Frankish Benedictine monk and theologian who became archbishop of Mainz in Germany. He was born of noble parents in Mainz, and in 801 he was ordained a deacon at Benedictine Abbey of Fulda in Hesse, where he had been sent to school and had become a monk. At the insistence of his abbot he went to Tours to complete his studies.

Returning to Fulda in 803, he was entrusted with the principal charge of the abbey school, which under his leadership became one of the most preeminent centers of scholarship and book production in Europe. In 814 Rabanus was ordained a priest. Shortly afterwards, apparently on account of disagreement with the Abbot, he withdrew for a time. Rabanus returned in 817 on the election of a new abbot, after whose death five years later Rabanus himself became abbot. He handled this position efficiently and successfully, and in 842 age 62 he resigned so as to have greater leisure for study and prayer, retiring to the neighboring monastery of St Petersberg. In 847 Rabanus was constrained to return to public life when he was elected to succeed Otgar as Archbishop of Mainz. He died in 856, age 76.

Rabanus composed a number of hymns, the most famous being Veni Creator Spiritus — a hymn to the Holy Spirit often sung at Pentecost. This hymn has been used by various composers including Bach, Mahler, Berlioz, Bruckner, Hindemeth and Stockhausen. Luther based one of his hymns on it, it appeared in the Anglican Book of Common Prayer of 1662, it is sung on the election of a new Pope, and it even appears in our hymnal!