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Appreciating Our Lutheran Hymns

We Now Implore God the Holy Ghost

A Pentecost Hymn

#231 in The Lutheran Hymnal

Artists and writers often pride themselves on the originality of their works. They like to think that their paintings and novels originate in their minds alone and that they are indebted to no one else for their ideas.

In this they are often foolishly proud, not wanting to acknowledge that all of man’s creative works are influenced by the work of others and that man’s good ideas have their origin in things that God created. God is the only true creator, after all, the only true original artist and author.

Martin Luther understood this and for his work gave God the glory. And he was not above making use of the work of others, humbly acknowledging his debt to them and adding to their work his own God-given talent and labor.

The first stanza of the Pentecost hymn We Now Implore God the Holy Ghost was an old hymn stanza that Luther found quoted in a sermon by the famous preacher, Berthold of Regesburg who lived in the 13th century. This stanza, of unknown origin, was itself probably inspired by a prayer sung in Pentecost services, asking the Holy Spirit for His blessings and gifts.

To the old hymn stanza that he had discovered, Luther added three stanzas of his own, each one a hymn of praise to the Spirit acknowledging His gifts of grace.

One stanza addresses the Holy Spirit as “most precious Light”–the One who reveals to us Christ our Savior, leading us to believe in Him. Another calls Him “sacred Love”–the source of true unity and peace among believers. A third calls Him our “highest Comfort in every need”–the One who sustains our faith in Christ through all the trials of life and finally in the hour of our death.

Luther recognized that the highest and noblest of thoughts and words are not original with man but are those that are inspired by the words of Holy Scripture authored by the Holy Spirit. It is to God alone that the glory belongs for all our works.

–Pastor John Klatt