Veni Creator Spiritus
VENI CREATOR SPIRITUS
An office hymn addressed to the Holy Spirit. In the middle ages, it was prescribed for Terce and Vespers of Pentecost. It was also sung at ordination liturgies. This hymn of six Ambrosian stanzas is a deeply personal prayer. Stanzas two and three recall Who the Spirit is, and enumerate the titles under which He is invoked, while the last three stanzas elaborate the pleading imperatives veni (come), visita (visit), and imple (fill).
The oldest MS of the hymn is 10th century; its earliest recorded use is at the third session of the Council of
Reims (1049) when it was sung instead of the Exaudi nos, Domine. About this same time the hymn was incorporated into the ordination ritual. At various times the hymn has been attributed to St. ambrose and to St. gregory I the Great and with some apparent reason to charle magne and to rabanus maurus. Charlemagne's supporters cite the emperor's devotion to the Holy Spirit, and his insistence on the double procession from the Father and the Son such as is reflected in line 23, "Teque utriusque Spiritum credamus." Rabanus's claim rests on a 10th-century MS of Fulda, no longer extant. Because the MS attributed to him also certain hymns known definitely not to be his, this evidence is unreliable. However, the content of the Veni Creator parallels that of Rabanus's chapter on the Holy Spirit (Patrologia Latina ed. J. P. Migne (Paris 1878–90) 111:23–26). In any event, the true author remains unknown. He probably lived in the Frankish Empire in the late 9th century. This hymn has been widely translated into the vernacular and set to polyphony.
Bibliography: s. g. pimont, Les Hymnes du brévaire romain, 3 v. (Paris 1874–87) 2:125–143. Analecta hymnica 50 (1907) 193–194, text. j. julian, ed., A Dictionary of Hymnology (New York 1957) 2:1206–11, 1594. a. s. walpole, ed., Early Latin Hymns (Cambridge, Eng. 1922) 373–376. a. wilmart, "L'Hymne et la sequence du Saint-Esprit," Auteurs spirituels et textes dévots du moyen-âge (Paris 1932) 37–45. p. doret, Un Commentaire du Veni Creator Spiritus (Brussels 1946). f. j. e. raby, A History of Christian-Latin Poetry from the Beginnings to the Close of the Middle Ages (Oxford 1953) 183. j. szÖvÉrffy, Die Annalen der lateinischen Hymnendichtung (Berlin 1964–65) 1:120–121.
[m. i. j. rousseau]