Veni Creator Spiritus (“Come Creator Spirit”) is a hymn believed to have been written by Rabanus Maurus in the 9th century. When the original Latin text is used, it is normally sung in Gregorian Chant. As an invocation of the Holy Spirit, in the practice of the Roman Catholic Church it is sung during the liturgical celebration of the feast of Pentecost (at both Terce and Vespers).

Veni Creator Spiritus.

It is also sung at occasions such as the entrance of Cardinals to the Sistine Chapel, when electing a new pope, as well as at the consecration of bishops, the ordination of priests, when celebrating the sacrament of Confirmation, the dedication of churches, the celebration of synods or councils, the coronation of kings, the profession of members of religious institutes and other similar solemn events.

1732. Pentecost, painted by Jean II Restout.

The hymn is also widely used in the Anglican Communion and appears, for example, in the Ordering of Priests and in the Consecration of Bishops in the Book of Common Prayer, 1662. It has been translated into several languages; one English example is Creator Spirit! by whose aid, written 1690 by John Dryden and published in The Church Hymn book 1872. Martin Luther used it as the basis for his chorale for Pentecost “Komm, Gott Schöpfer, Heiliger Geist”, first published in 1524.

Gustav Mahler

Mitchell describes Part I as resembling a giant motet, and argues that a key to its understanding is to read it as Mahler’s attempt to emulate the polyphony of Bach’s great motets, specifically Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied (“Sing to the Lord a new song”). The symphony begins with a single tonic chord in E-flat, sounded on the organ, before the entry of the massed choirs in a fortissimo invocation: “Veni, veni creator spiritus”.

The three note “creator” motif is immediately taken up by the trombones and then the trumpets in a marching theme that will be used as a unifying factor throughout the work. After their first declamatory statement the two choirs engage in a sung dialogue, which ends with a short transition to an extended lyrical passage, “Imple superna gratia”, a plea for divine grace. Here, what Kennedy calls “the unmistakable presence of twentieth-century Mahler” is felt as a solo soprano introduces a meditative theme. She is soon joined by other solo voices as the new theme is explored before the choirs return exuberantly, in an A-flat episode in which the soloists compete with the choral masses.

In the next section, “Infirma nostri corporis/virtute firmans perpeti” (“Our weak frames fortify with thine eternal strength”), the tonic key of E-flat returns with a variation of the opening theme. The section is interrupted by a short orchestral interlude in which the low bells are sounded, adding a sombre touch to the music. This new, less secure mood is carried through when “Infirma nostri corporis” resumes, this time without the choruses, in a subdued D minor echo of the initial invocation At the end of this episode another transition precedes the “unforgettable surge in E major”, in which the entire body of choral forces declaims “Accende lumen sensibus” (“Illuminate our senses”).

The first children’s chorus follows, in a joyful mood, as the music gathers force and pace. This is a passage of great complexity, in the form of a double fugue involving development of many of the preceding themes, with constant changes to the key signature. All forces combine again in the recapitulation of the “Veni creator” section in shortened form. A quieter passage of recapitulation leads to an orchestral coda before the children’s chorus announces the doxology “Gloria sit Patri Domino” (“Glory be to God the Father”). Thereafter the music moves swiftly and powerfully to its climax, in which an offstage brass ensemble bursts forth with the “Accende” theme while the main orchestra and choruses end on a triumphant rising scale.

Movement 1: Lied 1: Hymnus: Veni Creator Spiritus.

Movement 1: Lied 1: Hymnus: Veni Creator Spiritus.

Movement 1: Lied 1: Hymnus: Veni Creator Spiritus, score print.

Hymnus: Veni Creator Spiritus (Come, creator, holy spirit)

  • Part: 1.
  • Allegro impetuoso.
  • Page score: 3.
  • Bar: 1.
  • Duration: 1:34.
  • Veni Creator Spiritus”.
  • Choir I/II.

Veni, creator spiritus,

Mentes tuorum visita.

  • Part: 2.
  • A tempo. Etwas (aber unmerklich) gemassigter; immer sehr fliessend.
  • Page score: 3.
  • Bar: 46.
  • Duration: 3:34.
  • Imple superna gratia“.
  • Soprano I, tenor, soprano II, alto I/II, baritone, bass; choir I/II.

Imple superna gratia,

Quae tu creasti pectora.

Qui Paraclitus diceris,

Donum Dei altissimi.

Fons vivus, ignis, caritas,

et spiritalis unctio.

Veni, creator spiritus, etc. 

  • Part: 3.
  • Etwas drangend – Noch einmal so langsam. (Nicht schleppend).
  • Page score: 19.
  • Bar: 131.
  • Duration: 2:10.
  • Infirma nostri corporis“.
  • Choir II/I; soprano 1/II, alto I/II, tenor, bass, baritone.
  • Part: 4.
  • Tempo I. Allegro, etwas hastig.
  • Page score: 24.
  • Bar: 170.
  • Duration: 1:18.
  • Part: 5
  • Sehr fliessend – Noch einmal so langsam als vorher. Nicht schleppend.
  • Page score: 28.
  • Bar: 211.
  • Duration: 2:44.
  • Infirma nostri corporis“.
  • Bass, tenor, alto I/II, baritone, soprano I/II .

Infirma nostri corporis,

virtute firmans perpeti; rep.

  • Part: 6.
  • Plotzlich sehr breit und leidenschaftlichen Ausdrucks – Mit plotzlichem Aufschwung.
  • Page score: 33.
  • Bar: 258.
  • Duration: 4:54.
  • Accende lumen sensibus“.
  • Soprano I/II, alto I/II, tenor, baritone, bass; boys’ choir, choir I/II.

Accende lumen sensibus,

infunde amorem cordibus, rep.

Hostem repellas longius,

pacemque protinus dones;

praevio, ductore sic te praevio

vitemus omne pessimum.

Hostem repellas longius, etc. 

Munere tu septiformis,

digitus paternae dexterae.

Ductore praevio te, etc.

Tu septiformis munere, etc.

Per te sciamus da Patrem,

noscamus (atque) Filium,

(Teque utriusque) credamus Spiritum

omni tempore.

Accende lumen sensibus,

infunde amorem cordibus, etc.

  • Part: 7.
  • Veni Creator Spiritus“.
  • Page score: 54.
  • Bar: 408.
  • Duration: 4:13.
  • Soprano I/II, alto I/II, tenor, baritone, bass; choir I/II, boys’ choir.

Veni, creator spiritus, etc.

Da gaudiorum praemia,

da gratiarum munera;

pacem protinus dones;

dissolve litis vincula,

adstringe pacis foedera.

Pacemque protinus dones, etc. 

  • Part: 8.
  • Wieder frisch.
  • Page score: 65.
  • Bar: 499.
  • Duration: 2:58
  • Gloria sit Patri Domino“.
  • Boys’ choir, soprano I/II, alto I/II, tenor; choir I/II; baritone, bass.

Gloria Patri Domino,

gloria sit Domino

natoque, qui a mortuis surrexit,

Deo sit gloria et Filio

ac Paraclito

in saeculorum saecula.

Gloria Patria.

Total duration: 23:25. 

() = words omitted by Mahler.

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