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Gracious Spirit, Holy Ghost – Lake MacDonald

First line:
Gracious Spirit, Holy Ghost
author of text
based on 1 Corinthians 13 and Psalm 68: 13

This is a very serviceable, not very poetic hymn that enables us to think about the great passage in St Paul’s first Epistle to the Corinthians ‘Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels and have not charity …’ (1 Corinthians 13: 1). It in many ways reflects the life of its author.

Christopher Wordsworth (nephew of the poet William Wordsworth) had a brilliant academic career. As headmaster of Harrow he initiated a great moral reform. In 1836 he was made a canon of Westminster, which in those days did not entail living on the premises as it does now, but only moving in for the three months of the year in which he was on duty. In 1850 he took up the Abbey parish of Stanford-in-the-Vale-cum-Goosey, in Berkshire. It sounds a typical, rather easy life, as a country vicar, moving with his family three times a year to be ‘in residence’ in the cloisters of Westminster Abbey. In fact he was a very diligent and hard-working parish clergyman. His hymns were written to teach his parishioners about all the seasons of the Christian Year. In 1868 he was appointed Bishop of Lincoln where, among other things, he published a commentary on the whole of the Bible.

The tune ‘Lake MacDonald’ was composed by Malcolm Archer in 2003, while he was directing the Montreal Boys Choir course at Lake MacDonald in the Laurentian Hills. This idyllic spot has hosted the course over many years and Malcolm Archer has directed it five times. It has also been the inspiration for other composers including Alan Ridout. The tune was written especially for the words ‘Gracious Spirit, Holy Ghost’, which the composer has always felt need to be sung to a 3/2 time signature, not only to capture the lyrical quality of the words, but also their natural syllabic stresses.

from notes by Alan Luff © 2004


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


Track 14 on CDP12105 [2'31]

Track-specific metadata for CDP12105 track 14

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 14
    Release date: August 2004
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