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Breathe on me, breath of God – Carlisle

First line:
Breathe on me, breath of God
author of text

One of the great gifts of hymns to church is that they so often convey the profoundest theology in such simple a manner without compromising the integrity of the thought. This a supreme example, all the more valuable in that hymns on the Holy Spirit are rare. Hatch was professor of classics at Toronto, before returning to Oxford to pursue a distinguished career in theology. Those who knew him remarked on the way he united profound scholarship with simple faith and Christian living. These characteristics are clearly displayed here as he distils his thought on the Spirit into four short verses.

As with all our great hymns, it is woven from strands of the Bible: from Genesis comes the breath of God in creation; the breath of the Holy Spirit in the new birth in Christ is from St John; then bringing the life and love promised by St Paul in Galatians, and leading to purity and obedience, surrender, inspiration, eternal life. A fruitful time could be spent searching all these out.

Many tunes are sung to these words; they have never settled down as do some hymns to a single tune. Here is probably the most common, by the blind musician Charles Lockhart who was organist of the Lock Hospital in London, a charitable institution whose chapel was an important musical centre.

from notes by Alan Luff © 2004


The English Hymn, Vol. 5 - Lead, kindly Light


Track 4 on CDP12105 [1'45]

Track-specific metadata for CDP12105 track 4

Recording date
13 November 2003
Recording venue
Wells Cathedral, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Mark Brown
Recording engineer
Julian Millard
Hyperion usage
  1. The English Hymn, Vol. 5 - Lead, kindly Light (CDP12105)
    Disc 1 Track 4
    Release date: August 2004
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