Beyond the Work of Words

In the same way, the Spirit too comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit itself intercedes with inexpressible groanings.

Romans 8:26
O God, I do not have the word
to speak a ray of light,
but let my silent prayer be heard
and shine throughout the night.

O Spirit, come and speak for me
the words I do not know,
for light or darkness—let it be
as from your wisdom flows.

O Christ in heaven, sorrow's man,
what comfort can I preach?
As far as stars from earth you stand—
how can my whispers reach?

O Spirit, come and pray for me
in groans too deep for words,
for sorrows that I cannot see—
and may your prayer be heard!

For heaven seems a place too far;
my poor words cannot find,
yet I have touched the Savior's scars,
and God has yet been kind.

O Spirit, come and carry me
beyond the work of words.
By love and mercy, may it be
my silence there is heard!
Cave 69, wreath-bearing dove By Painter: 7th century, Public Domain 2D painting.Photographer: undetermined – [1], Public Domain,


Another challenge from my husband, though he gave it to me (and I wrote it) several weeks ago: “It’s a windy day; you should write about the wind.” Okay, then.

The wind is blowing. Lo! we hear the sound
that shakes the trees and rises from the ground,
but whence it comes, or where will next be found
we cannot tell, and it will not be bound.

The storm that sweeps across an arid land,
the gentle breath on dying embers fanned,
the gale that bows us down when we would stand:
Oh, Spirit, thus you guide our heart and hand!

Teach us once more, for we, undisciplined,
have thrown the yoke; rebellious cries have dinned;
have raised ourselves in pride; have, falling, sinned.
Teach us again, oh heaven-given wind!

Then blow once more, oh Spirit, where you will,
and in your mercy all our spaces fill.
Remake our hearts; renew the world until
it moves with you, and at your word is still.
A rock formation in the AltiplanoBolivia, sculpted by wind erosion By Thomas Wilken, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Blow the Trumpet, Zion

It shall come to pass I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even upon your male and female servants, in those days, I will pour out my spirit. I will set signs in the heavens and on the earth, blood, fire, and columns of smoke; The sun will darken, the moon turn blood-red, Before the day of the LORD arrives, that great and terrible day.

Joel 3:1-4

For Pentecost, to the Ralph Vaughan Williams tune, KING’S WESTON:

Lord, send out your Spirit,
and awake our hearts.
Though we cringe and fear it,
rouse our drowsing parts,
lest we fail to hear it,
that your Word imparts:
Your judgment is nearing.
Even now, it starts.

Blow the trumpet, Zion;
weep this dreadful day.
Weep, for Judah's lion
comes to judge his prey.
All that we rely on
he will cast away.
Our hearts, standing trial,
bow beneath his sway.

Spirit, fall like lightning,
flaring down this night.
Come, our vision bright'ning
toward the dawning light.
In your thunders fright'ning
you have shown your might.
Come, Spirit, enlight'ning;
teach us truth and right.
By Stefan Lochner –  Last Judgment, c. 1435. Wallraf-Richartz Museum, Cologne. Postcard, Public Domain,

How Many Are Your Wonders

Send forth your spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the earth.

Psalm 104:30

For Pentecost, tune the tune ES IST EIN ROS ENTSPRUNGEN (“Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming”).

How many are your wonders,
the world your works unfold:
Heaven your glory thunders;
by stars your tales are told,
but we in darkness bold
are tearing all asunder
your wonders manifold.

You, Lord, have made us mighty;
indeed, we fear no fall.
Proud clamor of our fighting
drowns out the orphan's call.
But you, who made us all
call us to be uniting
our pow'r to serve the the small.

Come, Spirit, world renewing;
come, touch us with your grace,
creation reimbuing,
your light on every face.
And all through time and space,
reach out, our hearts pursuing:
Catch us in your embrace!
Ingeborg Psalter, Public Domain,

Night Prayer to the Holy Spirit

To the tune of “All Through the Night” (ARD HYR Y NOS):

Spirit, brooding o'er the waters,
draw softly near.
Be our comfort; courage foster;
drive out our fear.
Though the night is swift-descending,
your protection never-ending,
as the flames at Pentecost were,
rests on us here.

Through the night-watch hours of darkness,
hover beside:
sick'ning fears and famine-starkness,
still be our guide.
Lonesome work or sleep's forgetting,
keep us by your sweet abetting.
Walking paths unknown and markless,
Spirit, abide!

Courage for the dawn ascending,
give us at day.
Your compassion, mercy's tending,
show us the way.
Guide the steps we will be taking;
lead us through the day soon breaking.
Every breath on you depending,
give us, we pray.
Representation as both dove and flames, Ravensburg, Germany, 1867 By Fidelis Schabet – Self-photographed, Public Domain,

The Spirit Comes

Jesus said to his disciples:

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.

And I will ask the Father,

and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always,

the Spirit of truth.

John 14: 15-17

This comes out of an online retreat I did this weekend. It looks forward to Pentecost, and is written for the tune of “The King Shall Come When Morning Dawns.”

The Spirit comes, as promised us
by Christ before he left,
to lead us into holiness
and leave us not bereft.

Not as of old in wind and flame,
but signs and wonders still
are born in us when we proclaim
God's promises fulfilled.

As we were promised light and life
and sharing in Christ's joys,
the Spirit comes to still our strife
and let us hear God's voice.

As we were promised pain and death
upon our crosses all,
the Spirit comes to give us breath
in answer to God's call.

And when the promised day shall come,
when Christ shall come again,
the Spirit gives us back to him
to join the great Amen.
Detail of a statue at St Bartholomew’s Church in Orford, photo By Ziko-C – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,