Singing through the Year: Breathe on Me, Breath of God

“Breathe on Me, Breath of God” is a well-loved hymn of personal devotion. It was originally written as a hymn-text for pastoral ordination services. Today it’s often sung on Pentecost, when we remember the descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles and other followers of Jesus.

The hymn text echoes the Psalmist’s prayer:

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me. Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your holy spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing spirit.” (Psalm 51: 10-12)

There are so many lovely settings of this hymn! Here is a piano setting from the hymnal, an arrangement of the hymn for piano, and a solo vocalist singing a cappella.

Breathe on Me, Breath of God

Breathe on me, Breath of God,
Fill me with life anew,
That I may love what Thou dost love,
And do what Thou wouldst do.

Breathe on me, Breath of God,
Until my heart is pure,
Until with Thee I will one will,
To do and to endure.

Breathe on me, Breath of God,
Till I am wholly Thine,
Until this earthly part of me
Glows with Thy fire divine.

Breathe on me, Breath of God,
So shall I never die,
But live with Thee the perfect life
Of Thine eternity.

Singing through the Year features a hymn related to next Sunday’s lectionary readings. Each hymn will be sung at the Presbyterian church where I am the organist.