11 Songs of the Spirit for Pentecost & Confirmation

The joyful 50 days of Eastertide culminate in the wonderful festival of Pentecost. It’s often referred to as the birthday of the church… That day when a group of timid disciples hiding-out in an upper room, poured onto the streets with hearts ablaze, no longer able to stay silent about the Good News of the gospel.

We need the Holy Spirit as much as ever. More than ever, maybe. We hope these 11 contemporary ‘Songs of the Spirit’ can help to nurture and express our longing for a new Pentecost, in this our day:

1. Come Holy Spirit – Dan Callow & Emily Clark

This is song from the EP We Will Go Out, by our friends at One Life Music. The first 3 verses give it something of a Trinitarian flavour. But the refrain and fourth verse bring a clear Holy Spirit focus. Dan and Emily have been sharing this song in their Confirmation preparation retreats far and wide, and it is becoming a firm favourite.

“Spirit, may our lives be blest
and in our hearts take up your rest.”

Sheet music and backing track is available on We Will Go Out CD-Rom
Recorded on the album We Will Go Out (EP)

2. Come O Lord (Gospel Acclamation) – Mike Stanley

This piece was written for our Diocesan pilgrimage to Lourdes in the ‘Year of the Spirit‘. It serves well as a Gospel Acclamation in general, but especially when the Holy Spirit is more of a focus. It is also a great “short song” for non-Eucharistic liturgies and other acts of collective worship. The refrain can be adapted by replacing the ‘Alleluias‘ with the phrase ‘Veni Sancte Spiritus‘.

“Come, O Lord, give us your Spirit
Come, O Lord, into our lives…”

Sheet music is available in Rejoice n Sing Digital Songbook
Recorded on the Rejoice ‘n’ Sing Audio Collection

3. Holy Spirit Come into our Lives – Ken Canedo

Written by American-Filipino composer and liturgist Ken Canedo, the first two verses are based on Isaiah 11:2, referencing the gifts of the Spirit. The other verses are adapted from the Pentecost Sequence. The rhythmic ostinato-style refrain is easily accessible – although some groups will need to make a concerted effort not to smooth out the syncopation.  A soloist sings the verses over the refrain, sort of Taizé-style, but with more groove.

“Holy Spirit, come into our lives
Holy Spirit, make us truly wise”

LISTEN: Holy Spirit Come into our Lives (audio sample)

Sheet music and mp3 is available from www.ocp.org
Available on iTunes

4. Holy Spirit, Living Breath of God – Keith Getty

The Irish influence of songwriters can be instantly heard in the lilting melody of this modern-day hymn. The words are a prayer for the action of the Holy Spirit to be seen in our lives in word and in deed. It is accessible and instantly singable. It is perhaps a little low in the voice in the published key of D major – worth trying in E major.

“Holy Spirit, come abide within
May your joy be seen in all I do”

Sheet music is available from Musicnotes.com
Lyrics and song info on Worshiptogether.com
Recorded on the album How Can We Keep From Singing? Vol. 4

5. Holy Spirit, Lord of Light (Pentecost Sequence) – Mike Stanley

This is a wonderful, stirring setting of the Pentecost Sequence (which occurs after the second reading in the Liturgy of the Word for Pentecost). The text is traditionally attributed to In­no­cent III (1160-1216) and translated from La­tin to Eng­lish by Ed­ward Cas­wall. In this setting, the many verses are broken up with a simple refrain to give a point of immediate accessibility for the whole congregation.  The refrain could be used on its own as a prayer response or acclamation.

“Holy Spirit, Lord of light,
From Thy clear celestial height
Thy pure beaming radiance give”

Sheet music is available in Rejoice n Sing Digital Songbook
Recorded on the Rejoice ‘n’ Sing Audio Collection

6. Holy Spirit We Have Come (Veni Sancte Spiritus) – Mike Stanley

This is the first of three songs in this list that are from the Mike Stanley album Dewfall. (He wrote one as a dedication for the Confirmation of each of his three sons). The flowing melody is a fine example of Mike’s gift as a songwriter. The refrain gives an opportunity for everyone to join immediately, first soaring longingly, and then coming to rest reassuringly.

“Holy Spirit shake us up,
disturb our hearts with sacredness.
Apathy change into care,
that all may know your presence here…”

Sheet music & Backing Track is available in Dewfall Resource Book
Recorded on the album Dewfall

7. Joy of the Holy Spirit – Mike Stanley

This second offering from the Dewfall CD is inspired – in part – by the fruit and gifts of the Holy Spirit. The verses speak of joy, love and peace and the bridge makes reference to the gift of wonder (and awe…). Although it doesn’t get to all nine fruit and seven gifts, it is a joyful acknowledgement of the power of the Spirit at work in our lives. Using sign language adds a wonderful, interactive dimension to the song.

“I’ve got that peace, it’s resting deep down in my soul
I’ve got that joy, love, peace of the Holy Spirit”

Sheet music & Backing Track is available in Dewfall Resource Book
Recorded on the album Dewfall
BSL Signing video available here

8. Like the Dewfall – Mike Stanley

This title track from the album Dewfall was inspired by the revised English translation of Eucharist Prayer II, which reads: Make holy, therefore, these gifts, we pray, by sending down your Spirit upon them like the dewfall“. It is a beautiful and striking simile, worthy of a song lyric or two.

The first half of the song is an echo of God’s promise to pour out his spirit upon us {c.f. Acts 2:17}. The second part of the song speaks of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Sign language offers a powerful way to explore these beautiful words.

“Like the dewfall, I will send down my spirit on you
Like the dewfall, you are covered by grace…”

Sheet music & Backing Track is available in Dewfall Resource Book
Recorded on the album Dewfall
BSL Signing video available here

9. Receive the Power – Guy Sebastian and Gary Pinto

This epic worship ballad is based on Acts 1:8 “…you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses…”. It was the theme song for World Youth Day 2008 in Sydney, Australia. It’s not really a congregational song, as such. Although the chorus is certainly easy enough for all to sing.

It would be a great piece for a contemporary choir or band. We have often used the chorus as a Gospel Acclamation, and then the entire song later in the liturgy – perhaps at the Preparation of the Gifts, or after Communion. It’s worth noting that the published key of C major is a little high – we tend to do it in A major.

“As your Spirit calls to rise
we will answer and do Your Will.
We’ll forever testify
of your mercy and unfailing love.”

LISTEN: Receive the Power (audio sample)

FREE Sheet music Download is available from www.xt3.com

10. Send us the Rain Lord – Dave Wellington

We recorded this moving invocation of the Spirit on How Can You Keep From Singing? Vol. 2. The text is full of  powerful scripture-inspired imagery, and the intuitive melody is suitable for assemblies of all ages.  The tempo and structure of the song really lends itself to dance or movement. And the rising, anthemic refrain has a Gospel-choir style intensity, while also being instantly singable.

“Send us the rain, Lord; rain of your Spirit
Rain on this dry, barren land…”

Sheet music coming soon…
Recorded on the album How Can We Keep From Singing? Vol. 2

11. Spirit Come Down – Janet Vogt & Mark Friedman

This fun, rythmic song has a four simple verses, which can be embellished with three possible counter-melody refrains. (Similar to our popular Eucharistic song, Taste and See).  Each of the individual refrains is simple enough, and groups love the challenge – and the resulting effect – of singing the parts against each other.

It feels somehow symbolic of that first Pentecost, when the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit,  began to speak in other languages, and people of every nation were able to hear and understand. The singing of different words and different melodies at the same time should just sound like chaos. But it becomes a harmonious sound that all can hear and understand.

“Spirit, come down from heaven
and fill us with your love”

LISTEN: Spirit Come Down (audio sample)

Sheet music is available from www.ocp.org
Available on iTunes

Some of these songs have served us well for years, others are more recent additions to our repertoire. We hope there’s something in this list that will help you as you plan your Pentecost and Confirmation liturgies.

We pray that the Holy Spirit will fall afresh on us all… #ComeHolySpirit.