Saturday, June 3, 2017

Breathe in us, Holy Spirit

It's interesting how my relationship with God has shifted as I've grown and changed through life. As a child, I related most to God as a father figure, probably because I have a wonderful dad. When I reached my teen years, I got to know BJ, or Brother Jesus, at a youth retreat, and he became my dearest friend. But now that I'm in middle age, it's the mysterious Holy Spirit who speaks to me the most through my creative endeavours, through the beauty of creation, and in the quietness of morning meditation. I have come to love the Spirit's gentle proddings... and I suspect today's moodling is about one of them.

In organizing our Taizé Prayer schedule for 2017 back in November, I decided, as usual, that it would be a good idea to take a break in the schedule for June, July and August as people are usually into camping/holiday/summer mode in those months, and it's hard to get musicians together for rehearsals. But the morning after our May 14th prayer, the last one scheduled until September, this chant to the Holy Spirit started playing in my brain and wouldn't quit. So I emailed my musician friends to see if any of them would be willing to lead a prayer at the beginning of June, and got enough immediate positive responses to set up a prayer for Pentecost tomorrow. I guess we were all open to the Holy Spirit's promptings... and, of course, the first church I called was willing to host a prayer.

"Breathe in us, Holy Spirit" is the translation of the German Atme in uns, Heliger Geist. It's a beautiful prayer -- asking God to fill us up, to sustain us, to bring life to our world, and the repetition of such a simple phrase makes room for the Spirit to move, at least in my experience.

In Taizé last October, this chant moved me deeply, and right away I asked Brother Jean-Marie if it would be possible to get the music, but it hadn't been released yet. When new music is being developed in the Taizé community, they take their time trying it out and perfecting it before they make it available to the public.

I love the descants to this piece, at least the ones I can understand. The English verse is from a beautiful prayer, the Invocation to the Holy Spirit by St. Symeon the New Theologian, and the first French verse lists the gifts of the Holy Spirit from Galatians 5:22-23. I don't know what is being sung in Spanish and German, but it all sounds just beautiful to me, and brings to mind the many languages spoken when the Spirit descended on the apostles.

The chant was released for publication last month, and even though our music group doesn't have access to the official sheet music, we will sing and pray it tomorrow evening as best we can. If you are in Edmonton and are able to join us, we'll meet for ecumenical prayer on June 4th at Assumption Church, 9040 95 Street, at 7 p.m. All are welcome. Feel free to bring a friend.

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