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Pentecost Song - Holy Spirit

Dorothy Norwood began her gospel music career in 1943 and her solo recording career spans five decades.  In the early 1960s she was part of The Caravans which, in the world of gospel music, is a more or less unimpeachable credential.  (It's like being part of Miles Davis' first great quintet, or the championship Boston Celtics teams of the same era.)

Norwood's "Holy Spirit" isn't just a Pentecost song.  It's a song that captures, I think, something of what happened with Jesus' followers in what we celebrate today as Pentecost.

From its opening bass/high-hat note and the slow, deep groove that follows, “Holy Spirit” announces that we’re dealing with matters of the utmost seriousness.  If it’s not a matter of life and death, then it’s at least a matter of whether life will be worth living.  When that much hangs in the balance, then it’s time to pray—and sing—with every fiber of your being.

We can’t do nothing Lord, until you
Come on in the room;
Bless my soul.

We need your power…
We need the fire;
Come on in the room.

Happy Pentecost.


About the Author

Luke Hill is a writer and community organizer in Boston. He blogs at dotCommonweal and MassCommons. 



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Now that's a rousing gospel tune. Here's something more subdued, but also moving: 

Well, that woke me up in a hurry, better than a double espresso. Thank you, Luke, for this humbling and glorious gift.  Such a voice, so much spirit...I love it.  And sorry, Chris, could not connect to your poetry.

I apologize. It's supposed to be a link to Czeslaw Milosz' "Veni Creator." I'll let interested readers conduct their own search.


I think there are not a few white suburban Catholics who long for that kind of unbridled, individualistic spiritual expression.  And not a few choir directors in white suburban Catholic parishes who would like to be able to pull off something like that.  In some ways, the spirituality of the white suburban Catholic European chant heritage is at the other end of the musical spirituality spectrum: it subsumes unbridled expression into ritual, and individual expression into blending, so that many become one, even harmonic expression being melded into monotone.  There are those who insist that there is a paradox is at work in such expression, such that the ritual and rules become the gateway to spiritual freedom.  I think a lot of people experience it as a bit of a straitjacket, though.  

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