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“Come, Holy Spirit”

TITLE: "Come, Holy Spirit"
AUTHOR: The Iona Community
COMPOSER: The Iona Community
SOURCE: Worship & Song, no. 3091 SCRIPTURE: Luke 1:34-36; Acts 1:8; 2:1-4; Revelation 22:20 TOPICS: Pentecost; Holy Spirit; Maranatha


The Iona Community is an ancient Christian community on the small island of Iona in the Inner Hebrides Islands of western Scotland. It was founded by St. Columba, a monk from Ireland and missionary to Scotland, in 563 A.D. It became an important monastery in the Early Middle Ages and played a major role in the conversion of the Picts to Christianity and in the evangelization of Europe. Today, the Iona Community is a place of pilgrimage from all over the world. It has become a major center for ecumenism, social justice, healing, reconciliation, and worship renewal. The community has had a major impact on worship renewal around the world through the development, recording, and publishing of liturgies, music, and worship resources by its Wild Goose Resource Group.


"Come, Holy Spirit" is a short, sixteen-measure response or refrain that can be used effectively as a prayer response, call to worship, or response to Scripture. In Worship & Song, it is presented in call-and-response fashion with a solo leader sounding the phrase to be repeated by the congregation. It could also be performed antiphonally by two ensembles or divided congregation. The long, sustained notes at the end of each chant-like phrase provide the merest skeleton of a harmonic structure. The tonality is a sustained G minor harmony, left unresolved and open at the end with both voice parts sustaining the dominant note D. Despite the two-staff realization in most collections, the music is actually composed as a canon at the unison or octave.


The text is simple and biblical: "Come, Holy Spirit. Maranatha! Come, Lord, come." The Aramaic word "Maranatha" occurs twice in the New Testament: 1 Corinthians 16:22 and Revelation 22:20. It is variously translated: "Come, O Lord," "Our Lord, come!" and "Our Lord has come." The footnote in the Worship & Song source gives the meaning as "Come, soon." Bookending "Maranatha" in this text are two statements about the coming of the Lord. The first is related to the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, "Come, Holy Spirit," a prayer commonly repeated in liturgy, prayer, and song. The second, "Come, Lord, come," seems more related to the appearance at the end of Scripture in Revelation 22:20, referring to the expected second coming of Jesus.


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