Spirit Of God, Descend Upon My Heart

One of the finest of all hymns for the Pentecost season is “Spirit of God, Descend Upon My Heart.” It was written by Anglican minister George Croly, who was known among his associates as a “fundamentalist in theology, a fierce conservative in politics, and intensely opposed to all forms of liberalism.” The hymn first appeared in 1854 in Croly’s own hymnal, Psalms and Hymns for Public Worship. It was originally titled “Holiness Desired.”

Each stanza contributes an important truth for our spiritual benefit:

Stanza One— A desire to change the focus of one’s life from things temporal to things spiritual.

Spirit of God, descend upon my heart:

Wean it from earth, through all its pulses move.

Stoop to my weakness, mighty as Thou art,

and make me love Thee as I ought to love.

Stanza Two— The total dedication of one’s self to God.

Hast Thou not bid us love Thee, God and King?

All, all Thine own—soul, heart and strength and mind.

I see Thy cross—there teach my heart to cling:

O let me seek Thee, and O let me find.

Stanza Three— A prayerful concern for knowing fully the Spirit’s abiding presence.

Teach me to feel that Thou art always nigh;

teach me the struggles of the soul to bear—

to check the rising doubt,the rebel sigh;

teach me the patience of unanswered prayer.

Stanza Four— A most beautiful metaphor of a Spirit-filled life: “my heart an altar, and Thy love the flame.”

Teach me to love Thee as Thine angels love,

one holy passion filling all my frame:

The baptism of the heav’n descended Dove—

my heart an altar and Thy love the flame.

by K. W. Osbeck in Amazing Grace : 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions (electronic edition), page 153.

2 thoughts on “Spirit Of God, Descend Upon My Heart

  1. Pingback: Pentecost Links Around the Blogosphere « Lent & Beyond

  2. Thanks for posting Ken Osbeck’s comments on George Croly’s great hymn. (Today happens to be the 150th anniversary of Croly’s death.)

    If you enjoy reading about our hymns and their authors, I invite you to check out my daily blog on the subject, Wordwise Hymns.

    And if you’ll excuse a brief “commercial:” If you do not have a good book on the subject of our Christmas carols, I encourage you to take a look at my own, Discovering the Songs of Christmas. In it, I discuss the history and meaning of 63 carols and Christmas hymns. The book is available through Amazon, or directly from Jebaire Publishing. (Might make a great gift too!)

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