Veni Creator Spiritus
is a hymn prescribed for second Vespers on Whit Sunday, but often used apart from this at the ordination of priests and bishops. The hymn is of considerable antiquity and is thought to have been composed in the ninth century, probably by Rabanus Maurus, Abbot of Fulda and Archbishop of Mainz. It was included in a comprehensive collection of Victoria’s hymn settings covering the whole church year which was published in Rome in 1581 by Francisco Zanetti. Victoria’s four-part alternatim setting begins with the plainsong melody, which will be familiar to those who know the Whitsun Hymn ‘Come, Holy Ghost, our souls inspire’ from the English Hymnal
. Victoria uses all seven verses of the hymn and, once again, the plainsong is employed in the polyphonic sections as a cantus firmus moving from part to part and sometimes augmented or lightly ornamented.
from notes by Jon Dixon © 1996