Pentecost Hymn Festival

The "hymn festival" is rapidly growing in popularity. With the explosion of new songs for worship, the rediscovery of old gems, as well as the joy of singing familiar favorites, the hymn festival provides an opportunity for congregations, choirs, and instruments to join in varied ways of singing hymns together. A hymn festival can celebrate the hymns of a season or of a given tradition, author, composer, or theme. Any good reason will do!

Bert Polman prepared this Pentecost Hymn Festival for a combined evening service of some Christian Reformed congregations in Toronto. Several of the texts chosen were written in the twentieth century, reflecting much renewed interest in the work of the Holy Spirit. Most of the songs are scheduled for inclusion in the new Psalter Hymnal. The singing was almost entirely congregational. The choir had learned the new melodies in advance and served mainly as support to the congregation.

The original program for this service included all the song texts. We separated the texts from the service to save space. The last page of the program included the "Notes on the Hymns" which we have printed on page 30. Reformed Worship also lists sources and publishers' addresses to facilitate permission requests for congregations wishing to reproduce any of the texts in their own bulletins.

(After words of greeting and welcome, the people shall stand: *)

*Psalm My Soul, Praise the Lord! (Psalm 104)


Leader: O Lord God, how great you are! On the first day of the week we commemorate your creation of the world and all that is in it.

People: Lord, send forth your Spirit and renew the face of the earth.

Leader: O Lord God, how great you are! On the first day of the week we commemorate the resurrection of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior, from the dead.

People: Lord, create in us a pure heart and renew a steadfast spirit within us.

Leader: O Lord God, how great you are! On the first day of the week we celebrate in song the presence of your Holy Spirit in the church and throughout the whole world.

People: Amen and amen!

*Hymn: For Your Gift of God the Spirit (st. 1-2: all; st. 3: women; st. 4: men; st. 5: all)


Scripture Reading: from Genesis 1-2, Psalm 104, and Isaiah 11

Hymn: Spirit, Working in Creation

Hymn: There's a Spirit in the Air(st. 1-2: all; St. 3-4: women; st. 5: men; st. 6-7: all)

Scripture Reading: from Romans 8 and Ephesians 4—5

Hymn: The Spirit Came, as Promised (st. 1: all; st. 2: men; st. 3: women; st. 4: all)

Scripture Song: Fear Not, Rejoice and Be Glad (Prophecy of Joel)
(The choir will introduce the refrain to the congregation. Then the choir will sing the verses, the congregation the refrain.)

Offering of Gifts

Offertory Hymn (to be sung during the offering): We Have Told the Blessed Tidings

Scripture Reading & Sermon

*Hymn: Born by the Holy Spirit's Breath

*The Biblical Rule of Thanksgiving (paraphrase of the Ten Commandments)

Leader: As we are to walk humbly with our God in lives of gratitude,
let us hear again his word:
God commands us to serve him alone as God,
to serve him according to his Word,
to speak of him only with deep respect and love,
to attend faithfully the assembly of God's people on the day of rest,
and everyday to let the Lord work in us through his Spirit;
to respect and cooperate with all God-given authority,
to nurture human life as God's precious gift,
to live purely and joyfully with the gift of sex,
to use the resources of this earth as stewards of God's creation,
to use the gift of speech for promoting the truth in love,
and to exercise purity of heart in all of life.
People: May the Spirit of God guide us to be obedient to this word. Amen!

Hymn before Prayer: I Am the Church, You Are the Church (The choir sings the verses, the congregation the refrain.)

Prayers of the Church, concluded with singing: Spirit of the Living God, Fall Afresh on Me

*Hymn: Love Divine, All Loves Excelling (st. 1: all; st. 2: women st. 3: all)

*Benediction, concluded with the singing of a threefold Amen.

Notes on the Hymns Used in This Service

(Most are from the twentieth century.)

The paraphrases from Psalm 104 are a selection of verses from the revised Psalter Hymnal text; they are sung to the Houghton tune (PH 206) by Gauntlett, 1861. (Alternative tunes: Hanover, Laudate Dominum, Lyons.)

"For Your Gift of God the Spirit" comes from Toronto author Margaret Clarkson, who is one of the most theologically astute hymnwriters of our day. Her text is sung to a sturdy Welsh tune, Blaenwern. (Available in Rejoice in the Lord: text #382, tune #115.)

Combining aspects of the Spirit's work from biblical history with prayers for the renewal of the Spirit's work today, "Spirit, Working in Creation" is sung to the tune Omni Die from Luxembourg, 1768. The text is by John Richards. (Several alternative tunes are possible; the meter is 87 87 D.)

"There's a Spirit in the Air" is one of the simplest and finest of current hymn texts suitable for Pentecost; the text was written by the British pastor Brian Wren, and its carol-like tune comes from the British hymnologist John Wilson. (Available in Rejoice in the Lord, #380.)

"The Spirit Came, as Promised" was written by Jim Seddon (England) after a study of Paul's letter to the Ephesians. Its tune, Ellacombe, comes from Wur-temberg, 1784. (Available in Psalm Praise, G. I. A. Publications, 7404 S. Mason Ave., Chicago, IL 60638; 312-496-3800.)

The Scripture song "Fear Not, Rejoice and Be Glad" is a paraphrase of sections from the Book of Joel; the textual arrangement was made by Priscilla Wright, who also composed the tune Clay. (Available in Sound of Living Waters, which is no longer in print, and in Songs for Celebration, available from The Church Hymnal Corporation, 800 Second Ave., New York, NY 10017-4754; 212-661-6700.)

"We Have Shouted Blessed Tidings," written by Christian Reformed poet Marie Post, first appeared in the Psalter Hymnal Supplement and for this service will be sung to an old Dutch tune, In Babilone, 1710.

Based on Romans 8, "Born By the Holy Spirit's Breath" was penned by Timothy Dudley-Smith (who also wrote "Tell Out, My Soul") and, for this service, will be sung to Winchester New, 1690. (Available in the recently published hymnal The Singing Church, #308, Hope Publishing Co., Carol Stream, IL 60188; 800-323-1049.)

"The Biblical Rule of Thanksgiving" was prepared by Rev. Jack Vos and uses Heidelberg Catechism phrases to summarize the Ten Commandments.

Richard Avery and Donald Marsh (a pastor/church musician team in the USA) wrote "I Am the Church" (both text and tune) in their series of songs entitled Hymns Hot and Carols Cool. (Also available in The Singing Church, #217.)

The tune and first stanza of "Spirit of the Living God" were written by Daniel Iverson at Moody Bible Institute. The second stanza was added later by the British Anglican Bishop Michael Baughen. (Also available in The Singing Church, #183.)

"Love Divine, All Loves Excelling" is one of Charles Wesley's famous prayer hymns on the work of Christ, work which is operative in the Christian life through the power of the Holy Spirit. It is sung today to another great Welsh tune, Hyfrydol. (Available in Rejoice in the Lord, #464, and the Trinity Hymnal, #460.)

Congregations wishing to reprint those texts under copyright are requested to contact the publisher for permission. Addresses and phone numbers are listed for your convenience.

Hymn Texts for the Pentecost Hymn Festival

Psalm 104
My Soul, Praise the LORD

(1) My soul, praise the Lord! The Lord is most great,
with glory arrayed, majestic his state.
The light is his garment, the skies form a tent,
and over the waters his couriers are sent.

(2) He causes the springs of water to flow
in streams from the hills to valleys below.
Our God gives those streams for all living things there
while birds with their singing enrapture the air.

(3) Your Spirit, O Lord, makes life to abound.
The earth is renewed and fruitful the ground.
To God ascribe glory and wisdom and might.
Let God in his creatures forever delight.

Text: Psalm 104; vers. Psalter, 1912, alt. (In public domain.)

For Your Gift of God the Spirit appears on p. 37 of this issue of Reformed Worship.

Spirit, Working in Creation

(1) Spirit, working in creation,
bringing order out of strife, come among God's gathered people,
giving harmony and life. Spirit, speaking through the prophets
so the voice of God was heard, come, inspire, alert your people
to this day's prophetic word.

(2) Spirit, coming from the Father
as a dove upon our Lord, come upon your chosen people;
may your blessings be outpoured. Spirit, driving to the desert
even God's Anointed One. come to us in trial and testing
that God's will in us be done.

(3) Spirit, breathed on the disciples,
giving peace where there was fear, come among us, touch us, send us,
makingjesus' presence near. Praise and glory. Holy Spirit,
for your love on us outpoured, giving honor to the Father,
and proclaiming Jesus "Lord."

Text: John Richards (No information available as to copyright)

There's a Spirit in the Air

(1) There's a spirit in the air,
telling Christians everywhere:
praise the love that Christ revealed, living, working in our world.

(2) Lose your shyness, find vour tongue;
tell the world what God has done:
God in Christ has come to stay.
We can see his power today.

(3) When believers break the bread,
when a hungry child is fed:
praise the love that Christ revealed,
living, working in our world.

(4) Still his Spirit leads the fight,
seeing wrong and setting right.
God in Christ has come to stay.
We can see his power today.

(5) When a stranger's not alone,
where the homeless find a home:
praise the love that Christ revealed,
living, working in our world.

(6) May his Spirit fill our praise,
guide our thoughts and change our ways,
God in Christ has come to stay.
We can see his power today.

(7) There's a Spirit in the air,
calling people everywhere:
praise the love that Christ revealed,
living, working in our world.

Text: Brian Wren. 1969; © 1979, Hope Publishing Co.. Carol Stream. IL 60188 (800-323-1049). Usee by permission.

The Spirit Came, as Promised

(1) The Spirit came, as promised.
in God's appointed hour;
and now to each believer
he comes in love and power.
And by his Holy Spirit
God seals us as his own.
and through the Son and Spirit
makes access to his throne.

(2) The Spirit makes our bodies
the temple of the Lord.
He binds us all together
in faith and true accord.
The Spirit in his greatness
brings power from God above,
and with the Son and Father
dwells in our hearts in love.

(3) He bids us live together
in unity and peace;
employ his gifts in blessing,
and let base passions cease.
We should not grieve the Spirit
by open sin or shame;
nor let our words and actions
deny his holy name.

(4) The Word, the Spirit's weapon,
will bring all sin to light;
and prayer, by his directing,
will give new joy and might.
Be filled then with his Spirit,
live out God's will and word;
Rejoice with hymns and singing.
make music to the Lord.

Text: James E. Seddon. 1973; based on references to the Holy Spirit in Ephcsians. © 1973. Hope Publishing Co., Carol Stream, IL 60188 (800-323-1049). Used by permission.

Fear Not, Rejoice and Be Glad

Fear not. rejoice and be glad,
the Lord has done a great thing;
has poured out his Spirit on all who live,
on those who confess his name.

(1) The fig tree is budding, the vine bearing fruit,
the wheat fields are golden with grain.
Thrust in the sickle, the harvest is ripe,
the Lord has given us rain.

(2) We shall eat in plenty and be satisfied,
the mountains will drip with sweet wine.
"My children shall drink of the fountain of life,
my children will know they are mine."

(3) "My people will know that I am the Lord,
their shame 1 have taken away.
My Spirit will lead them together again,
my Spirit will show them the way."

(4) His children will dwell as a body of love.
a light to the world they will be.
Life shall come forth from the Father above,
his Word shall set each of us free.

Text: Joel 2-4; Priscilla Wright, 1971. 1975, Mar-anatha! Music. P.O. Box 1396. Costa Mesa. CA 92626 (714-979-8536). Used by permission.

We Have Told the Blessed Tidings

(1) We have told the blessed tidings
to a dark and troubled world.
From the poles to the equator
Christ's own banner is unfurled.
With the blessing of the Spirit
and the pentecostal flame,
those who else would death inherit
now sing praises to God's name.

(2) Time and skills are ours, Lord, use them
toward the great commission's goals.
Pour your Spirit out upon us
in compassion for lost souls.
May we use our gifts and talents
never for ourselves alone;
make us servants, working always.
only that your praise be known.

(3) With your blessing still ignite us,
burn our lips that we may speak;
witnessing to friends and family.
neighbors, strangers, all we meet.
Always diligent in service,
spreading Jesus' love abroad,
with the Holy Spirit's power,
gathering all the church of God.

Text: Marie J. Post, 1973, rev. 1985. © 1987. CRC Publications. 2850 Kalamazoo Ave., Grand Rapids, MI 49560 (616-246-0797). (Permission is granted to subscribers of REFORMED WORSHIP to reprint this text in their church bulletins.)

Born by the Holy Spirit's Breath

(1) Born by the Holy Spirit's breath,
loosed from the law of sin and death,
now cleared in Christ from every claim,
no judgment stands against our name.

(2) In us the Spirit makes his home
that we in him may overcome;
Christ's risen life, in all its powers,
its all-prevailing strength, is ours.

(3) Sons, then, and heirs of God most high,
we by his Spirit "Father" cry;
that Spirit with our spirit shares
to frame and breathe our wordless prayers.

(4) One is his love, his purpose one;
to form the likeness of his Son
in all who, called and justified,
shall reign in glory at liis side.

(5) Nor death nor life, nor powers unseen,
nor height nor depth can come between;
we know through peril, pain, and sword,
the love of God in Christ our Lord.

Text: Timothy Dudley-Smith; © 1972. Hope Publishing Co.. Carol Stream. IL 60188 (800-323-1049). Used by permission.

I Am the Church

I am the church, you are the church,
we are the church together!
All who follow Jesus, all around the world.
yes. we're the church together!

(1) The church is not a building,<> the church is not a steeple,
the church is not a resting place,
the church is a people!

(2) We're many kinds of people,
with many kinds of faces,
all colors and all ages, too,
from all times and places.

(3) At Pentecost some people
received the Holy Spirit
and told the good news through the world
to all who would hear it.

(4) And when the people gather,
there's singing and there's praying,
there's laughing and there's crying sometimes,
all of it saying:

Text: Richard Avery and Donald Marsh. 1972; © 1973, Hope Publishing Co., Carol Stream. IL 60188 (800-323-1049). Used by permission.

Spirit of the Living God

(1) Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me;
Spirit of the living God. fall afresh on me. Melt me, mold me. fill me, use me.
Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me.

(2) Spirit of the living God, move among us all;
make us one in heart and mind, make us one in love:
humble, caring, selfless, sharing—
Spirit of the living God. fill our lives with love!

Text: st. 1. Daniel Iverson. b. 1926; st. 2, Michael Baughen, b. 1930. st. 1 © 1935. 1963. Moody Press. 2101 West Howard St.. Chicago. IL 60645 (312-973-7800). Used by permission, st. 2 © 1973 Hope Publishing Co., Carol Stream, IL 60188 (800-323-1049). Used bv permission.

Love Divine, All Loves Excelling

(1) Love divine, all loves excelling,
joy of heaven, to earth come down;
fix in us thy humble dwelling,
all thy faithful mercies crown.
Jesus, thou art arc all compassion,
pure, unbounded love thou art;
visit us with thy salvation,
enter even' trembling heart.

(2) Come, almighty to deliver.
let us all thy life receive;
suddenly return, and never,
nevermore thy temples leave.
Thee we would be always blessing,
serve thee with thy hosts above,
pray, and praise thee without ceasing,
glory' in thy perfect love.

(3) Finish then thy new creation;
pure and spotless let us be.
Let us see thy great salvation,
perfectly restored in thee.
Changed from glory into glory
till in heaven we take our place,
till we cast our crowns before thee,
lost in wonder, love, and praise!

Text: Charles Wesley, 1747. In public domain.

Bert Polman was a hymnologist, professor and chair of the music department at Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan. He passed away in July 2013. 

Reformed Worship 3 © March 1987, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship. Used by permission.