Whitsunday is the British and Irish name for Pentecost Sunday, a contraction of White Sunday.  The origins of the name White Sunday are debated.  For today’s writing, John Keble’s Whitsunday, from his book of verse, The Christian Year.

 

Also included is a YouTube video of the musical setting for this poem, without singing:

 

And suddenly there came a sound from Heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost. Acts ii. 2-4.

When God of old came down from Heaven,
In power and wrath He came;
Before His feet the clouds were riven,
Half darkness and half flame:
Around the trembling mountain’s base
The prostrate people lay;
A day of wrath and not of grace;
A dim and dreadful day.
But when he came the second time,
He came in power and love,
Softer than gale at morning prime
Hover’d His holy Dove.
The fires that rush’d on Sinai down
In sudden torrents dread,
Now gently light, a glorious crown,
On every sainted head.
Like arrows went those lightnings forth
Wing’d with the sinner’s doom,
But these, like tongues, o’er all the earth
Proclaiming life to come:
And as on Israel’s awe-struck ear
The voice exceeding loud,
The trump, that angels quake to hear,
Thrill’d from the deep, dark cloud;
So, when the Spirit of our God
Came down His flock to find,
A voice from Heaven was heard abroad,
A rushing, mighty wind.
Nor doth the outward ear alone
At that high warning start;
Conscience gives back th’ appalling tone;
’Tis echoed in the heart.
It fills the Church of God; it fills
The sinful world around;
Only in stubborn hearts and wills
No place for it is found.
To other strains our souls are set:
A giddy whirl of sin
Fills ear and brain, and will not let
Heaven’s harmonies come in.
Come Lord, Come Wisdom, Love, and Power,
Open our ears to hear;
Let us not miss th’ accepted hour;
Save, Lord, by Love or Fear.