Breath of the Spirit – a poem, litany and song

The wonderful Philip Garside, musician, poet and publisher from Aotearoa / New Zealand has been in touch to share “Breath of the Spirit” in three forms. It’s a gift to me in the northern hemisphere that someone who is coming into summer warmth and growing to share this lovely winter liturgy with those of us who soon will be feeling winter winds. Philip writes:

For the past 8 years our Methodist church in Wellington, New Zealand, has offered a series of free lunchtime concerts and weekend film showings as part of our Winter @ Wesley festival. We aim to spread some light and warmth in the gloom of winter. We offer free soup and bread after the lunchtime concerts and have found this to be an effective, gentle way of reaching out to our central city neighbours.

Each year I have designed a poster for Winter @ Wesley. Last year my minister suggested that we make wind the theme for the festival. With that in mind I created the spiral logo you see in the poster. Earlier this year I was talking with him again and he said that this year we could focus on breath and wind. That immediately made me think of the Holy Spirit.

winter-at-wesley

A couple of days later this short poem emerged:

Breath of the Spirit, come blow among us
fill and inspire us, with life-giving joy.

Weave your deft patterns, reform and reshape us
link us together to form a new whole.

Roar down our streets – winter gale blowing
sweep clean our dark places – hearts bare and renewed

Uplift and free us, help us to soar
May your energy power us, turn all hearts to you.

Breath of the Spirit, come blow among us
fill and inspire us, with life-giving joy.

Being a worship leader, it soon occurred to me that the poem could be adapted as a responsive litany.

Breath of the Spirit, come blow among us
fill and inspire us, with life-giving joy.

Weave your deft patterns, reform and reshape us
link us together to form a new whole.

Breath of the Spirit, come blow among us
fill and inspire us, with life-giving joy.

Roar down our streets – winter gale blowing
sweep clean our dark places – hearts bare and renewed

Breath of the Spirit, come blow among us
fill and inspire us, with life-giving joy

Uplift and free us, help us to soar
May your energy power us, turn all hearts to you.

Breath of the Spirit, come blow among us
fill and inspire us, with life-giving joy. Amen

I showed the litany to a poet friend, who said, “hymn?”

The next day, when walking home from the bus stop after church, a bit of tune came into my head from the Finale of Jonathan Berkahn’s The Third Day, Easter cantata, which I have sung many times with Festival Singers. It fitted the first few words of the refrain… and a draft song emerged.

My wife Heather offered some helpful suggestions to smooth off a couple of rough corners and we were done. The whole creative process of writing the poem, litany and song took just 3 days.
breath-of-the-spirit

Notes:
The song is set fairly low which will suit basses like me and altos. If you prefer a higher setting, transpose it up a tone or two by using a capo on your guitar.
The verses are much slower than the refrains. Breath marks ^ are suggested for the verses.

You can see a video of me performing the song in our Winter @ Wesley concert series on YouTube here

People, choirs and churches are free to use the poem, litany and song in worship or anywhere else. Please just credit me as the composer/writer. If you want to record or publish any of them commercially please email me at books@pgpl.co.nz

Philip Garside
30 September 2016

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2 Responses to Breath of the Spirit – a poem, litany and song

  1. This is excellent Philip and so appropriate for Wellingtonians! Many blog readers are unlikely to know that our capital city is known as ‘Windy Wellington’ – being situated on the edge of the wild Cook Straight (that separates the North Island from the South) it gets more wind than any other town in Aotearoa.

  2. Maren says:

    That’s wonderful to know! I had no idea.

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