Hymn to the Holy Spirit
Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179)
Oh fiery Spirit, praise to you
who stirs us with cymbals,
soothes us with the lute!
From you the minds of men catch fire; you know
how to set up the bodys
tent, to house the soul.
From both, the Will ascends: lends the Soul
sapience, to taste the world;
desires, to light it.
Our understandings make
music with you, set up the Spirits workshop
distilling golden deeds.
The secateurs are in your hand to cut
that apple - full of the black Parasite
who clouds our wills, and poisons
our longings; sets our souls in a flap
wheeling and screaming round, nowhere to settle -
till the mind, restored, restrains those wills and those desires.
If our spirit is tempted to look
through that evil eye - or talk
with that wicked tongue - you throw it back on the fire;
If our reason is down on the boards, knocked cold
by our own bad deeds, you pound it up even smaller
and brew it up afresh - like a new Creation.
If evil draws a knife
or gun on you, youre faster: down he goes again
who made Heaven itself a penthouse for his pride.
Youve made another tower to stand in Heaven
from publicans and sinners - those who darent
look up, who beat their breasts.
So every creature that takes life from you
praises you - precious ointment
who turns stinking wounds to precious jewels.
Descend to us;
gather us to yourself;
Show us the paths of life. Amen.
Paraphrased from an English translation by Sabina Flanagan
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