The majestic Hymn of the Day, Come, Holy Ghost, God and Lord (LSB #497), was written by Martin Luther. In addition to writing catechism hymns for each of the six chief parts of Christian doctrine, Luther wrote this one to help remember the third article of the Apostles’ Creed. The chief teaching of the Christian faith—the doctrine of salvation by faith rather than works—is clearly proclaimed throughout this great hymn. Sing it confidently and boldly. The Holy Spirit has brought you to faith, and by Word and Sacrament, He will continue to keep you in the one true faith.
This chorale is based on the work of the third Person of the Holy Trinity, the Holy Spirit, who is expressly celebrated on the Day of Pentecost. The following shows connections between each of the four statements of Luther’s meaning of the Third Article of the Apostles’ Creed and portions of each stanza of “Come, Holy Ghost, God and Lord.”
Luther writes in his Table Talk: “The hymn ‘Come Holy Ghost, God and Lord,’ was composed by the Holy Ghost himself, both words and music.” Luther crafted the version known today by polishing the original German stanza and also composing two additional stanzas to fit masterfully with the first.
Ø I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith.
“With all Your graces now outpoured on each believer’s mind and heart” (stanza 1)
Ø In the same way He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith.
“Lord, by the brightness of Your light in holy faith Your Church unite” (stanza 1)
“Let none but Christ our master be that we in living faith abide, in Him, our Lord, with all our might confide.” (stanza 2)
Ø In this Christian church He daily and richly forgives all my sins and the sins of all believers.
“From every error keep us free” (stanza 2)
Ø On the Last Day He will raise me and all the dead, and give eternal life to me and all believers in Christ.
“That bravely here we may contend, through life and death to You, our Lord, ascend.” (stanza 3)
As mentioned earlier that the best hymns also teach the Christian faith, it is worth noting that this chorale actually predates the publication of Luther’s Small Catechism (1529). Thanks be to God for this chorale’s expression of our Lutheran faith and His work through the third Person of the Holy Trinity!
O God, who gave Your Holy Spirit to the apostles, grant us that same Spirit that we may live in faith and abide in peace; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit now and forever. Amen
Collect from Lutheran Service Book copyright © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis
Go into all the world, copyright © Ed Riojas, Higher Things