SPIRIT OF GOD, DESCEND UPON MY HEART
George Croly, 1780–1860
Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord Almighty. (Zechariah 4:6)
Although it is always thrilling at Christmas to recall the events of our Savior’s birth, or at Easter to celebrate His triumph over death, we must not forget Ascension or Pentecost. If Christ had never ascended to make intercession for us or had never sent the Holy Spirit to indwell and guide us, our relationship with the heavenly Father would be most incomplete.
One of the finest of all hymns for the Pentecost season is “Spirit of God, Descend Upon My Heart.” It was written by Anglican minister George Croly, who was known among his associates as a “fundamentalist in theology, a fierce conservative in politics, and intensely opposed to all forms of liberalism.” The hymn first appeared in 1854 in Croly’s own hymnal, Psalms and Hymns for Public Worship. It was originally titled “Holiness Desired.”
Each stanza contributes an important truth for our spiritual benefit:
Stanza One— A desire to change the focus of one’s life from things temporal to things spiritual.
Spirit of God, descend upon my heart: Wean it from earth, through all its pulses move. Stoop to my weakness, mighty as Thou art, and make me love Thee as I ought to love.
Stanza Two— The total dedication of one’s self to God.
Hast Thou not bid us love Thee, God and King? All, all Thine own—soul, heart and strength and mind. I see Thy cross—there teach my heart to cling: O let me seek Thee, and O let me find.
Stanza Three— A prayerful concern for knowing fully the Spirit’s abiding presence.
Teach me to feel that Thou art always nigh; teach me the struggles of the soul to bear—to check the rising doubt, the rebel sigh; teach me the patience of unanswered prayer.
Stanza Four— A most beautiful metaphor of a Spirit-filled life: “my heart an altar, and Thy love the flame.”
Teach me to love Thee as Thine angels love, one holy passion filling all my frame: The baptism of the heav’n descended Dove—my heart an altar and Thy love the flame.
For Today: Psalm 51:10, 11; John 15:26; Romans 5:5; 8:1–4; Ephesians 4:29, 30
Pray even now that the Holy Spirit will give you a greater love and devotion for Christ and will teach and personalize more fully the truths of this hymn. Carry this musical prayer as you go—
Osbeck, K. W.
- Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence, and take not thine holy Spirit from me. Psalm 51:10-11
- But when that Comforter shall come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth of the Father, he shall testify of me. John 15:26
- And hope maketh not ashamed, because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the holy Ghost, which is given unto us. Romans 5:5
- Now then there is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus, which walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the Law of the Spirit of life which is in Christ Jesus, hath freed me from the Law of sin and of death. For (that that was impossible to the Law, inasmuch as it was weak, because of the flesh) God sending his own Son, in the similitude of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh. That that righteousness of the Law might be fulfilled in us, which walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. Romans 8:1–4
- Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouths: but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, by whom ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Ephesians 4:29-30