Sunday, 19 May 2013

Come, Holy Spirit Heavenly Dove

Come, Holy Spirit Heavenly Dove,
Come to Thy people from above,
Fill them with graces and restore
Thy people as they were before.

For Comforter is Thy sweet name,
A gift which from the highest came,
A precious ointment from above,
A living fount, a fire of love.

Komm, Gott Schoepfer, Heiliger Geist
Translated into German from a 9th C. Latin hymn by Martin Luther in 1529 and set to a plainchant melody; rendered into English by Richard Massie, 1854. 

I say that we must be wise and take care that we do not boast of the Holy Spirit too confidently and joyously, that we may not become too secure and imagine that we are perfect in all respects. For a pious Christian still is flesh and blood like other people, but he fights against sin and evil lust and feels what he would rather not feel--Rom 7, 15 ff. The unbelievers are indifferent and make no such fight.
 It makes no difference that we feel evil lusts if we only battle against them. Therefore, the Christian must not judge according to his feelings, believing because of them that he is lost, but he must labor all his life with the remaining sin of which he is conscious and must permit the Holy Spirit to work, groaning without ceasing, to be rid of sin. Such groaning never ceases in believers, but is more profound that can be uttered, as St. Paul declares to the Romans (8, 26). But there is a precious listener, the Holy Spirit himself, who deeply feels our longing and also comforts our consciences.
The two must always be mingled, in our feelings--the Holy Spirit and our sin and imperfection. Our case must be like that of a sick man who is in the hands of the physician; presently he will be better. Therefore let no one think: Such a one possesses the Holy Spirit, consequently he must be altogether strong, without infirmities, and do only precious works. No, not yet. The Gospel is not a proclamation for everybody. It is a proclamation exceedingly gracious, but a coarse, hard heart may hear it without receiving any good; rather are such made more audacious and careless, imagining they need not war against the flesh, because they do not feel their sin and misery. The Holy Spirit is given to none except to those who are in sorrow and fear; in them it produces good fruit. This gift is so precious and worthy that God does not cast it before dogs. Though the unrepentant discover it themselves, hearing it preached, they devour it and know not what they devour. The hearts which receive it with profit are such as feel their evil lust but are unable to escape from it. There must be struggling if the Holy Spirit is to abide in the heart, and let no one dare think it will be otherwise.

A Sermon by Martin Luther; taken from his Church Postil, 1523
(Taken from volume III:273--287 of The Sermons of Martin Luther, published by Baker Book House (Grand Rapids, MI))

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