May 28, 2023
Beginning in the 10th century, a liturgical innovation occurred in which a sung poem was added after the alleluia before the Gospel reading. This was called a sequence (from “to follow”) and grew to prominence in the 13th century when hundreds of sequences had been written and composed for the liturgy. Virtually every Sunday mass had a sequence, as well as, a number of other special liturgies. They served as a meditation upon the meaning of the Gospel or of the Feast being celebrated. In the counter reformation reforms of Pope Pius V in the 16th century, the number of sequences was dramatically limited. After the Second Vatican Council, they were slightly limited further and there remain only two obligatory sequences, now moved to before the alleluia, in our current liturgical calendar. They are the Easter Sequence (“Victimae Paschali Laudes”) and the Pentecost Sequence (“Veni Sancte Spiritus”).
Used in a limited way, you may think, “What’s that?” It is unusual in our celebrations. This weekend, as we celebrate Pentecost, this sequence had become known as the “Golden Sequence” for its musical beauty and depth of meaning. As poetry, it is best reflected upon, meditated with, and pondered. The text is below for your use. I hope you will find it beneficial. Come, Holy Spirit, come!
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.