This Sunday, during the Mass for Pentecost, an ancient liturgical prayer will be proclaimed. The Pentecost sequence, also known as the “Veni Sancte Spiritus” is a beautiful call to the Holy Spirit to come into this world in a powerful way.
During the Middle Ages, sequences were added to various liturgies to enhance the celebration of certain feasts. Today, only two remain as fixed parts of their respective Masses – Easter and Pentecost. It used to extend the Alleluia (Gospel Acclamation) but according to the current liturgical instructions, it is now sung (preferred) or prayed before the Alleluia.
The Easter sequence invokes gratitude for the redeeming sacrifice of Christ and reflects upon the women finding the empty tomb – fulfilling the promise of the resurrection.
There are other sequences that are no longer official parts of any Masses but are still sung throughout many churches. For example, the Stabat Mater (sorrowful mother) is a beautiful Marian hymn which often accompanies the Stations of the Cross. Likewise, the Pange Lingua (Sing, my Tongue, the Savior’s Glory) by St. Thomas Aquinas recalls the profound mystery of the Eucharist and is often sung during Adoration or other Eucharistic celebrations.
The Pentecost sequence became part of the Mass in the 16th century, though it was most likely written in the 13th. It is a powerful invocation that can be prayed throughout the year – outside of Mass – whenever one wants to petition the Holy Spirit for an increase in His grace and power.
Read this beautiful prayer for yourself here:
Come, Holy Spirit, come!
And from your celestial home
Shed a ray of light divine!
Come, Father of the poor!
Come, source of all our store!
Come, within our bosoms shine.
You, of comforters the best;
You, the soul’s most welcome guest;
Sweet refreshment here below;
In our labor, rest most sweet;
Grateful coolness in the heat;
Solace in the midst of woe.
O most blessed Light divine,
Shine within these hearts of yours,
And our inmost being fill!
Where you are not, we have naught,
Nothing good in deed or thought,
Nothing free from taint of ill.
Heal our wounds, our strength renew;
On our dryness pour your dew;
Wash the stains of guilt away:
Bend the stubborn heart and will;
Melt the frozen, warm the chill;
Guide the steps that go astray.
On the faithful, who adore
And confess you, evermore
In your sevenfold gift descend;
Give them virtue’s sure reward;
Give them your salvation, Lord;
Give them joys that never end. Amen.