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Singing Our Faith: “Like the Murmur of the Dove’s Song”


Today’s post is from John Weit, Program Director for Music for the ELCA.

In these last weeks of the Easter season leading into the Day of Pentecost, many congregations will sing “Like the Murmur of the Dove’s Song” (Evangelical Lutheran Worship, #403). This is a somewhat unique instance of a hymn text that was written to fit an existing hymn tune. The text was commissioned for “The Hymnal 1982” of The Episcopal Church. Upon listening to the tune several times on different instruments, author Carl P. Daw, Jr. first wrote the refrain “Come, Holy Spirit, come.” This led to the stanzas forming a litany-like prayer to the Holy Spirit.

The first stanza portrays how the Spirit comes with familiar images of dove, wind, and fire. The second stanza turns to the Body of Christ assembled, identifying where and how the Spirit comes. Finally, the third stanza sings of why the spirit comes – the purpose of prayer, reconciliation, love, and peace. Since first published in 1985, this text and associated tune have appeared in several worship books, including nearly all those of the ELCA full communion partners. See the “Hymnal Companion to Evangelical Lutheran Worship  for more background on this hymn.


The flowing and reflective melody of this hymn are nicely led on organ or piano. Consider adding a solo instrument such as a flute playing the melody as an introduction. The “Musicians Guide to Evangelical Lutheran Worship” suggests when learning this hymn that first teaching the syncopated rhythm at “come, Holy Spirit” may be helpful. It is easily learned.


Like the murmur of the dove’s song,

like the challenge of her flight,

like the vigor of the wind’s rush,

like the new flame’s eager might:

Come, Holy Spirit, come.


To the members of Christ’s body,

to the branches of the Vine,

to the church in faith assembled,

to our midst as gift and sign:

Come, Holy Spirit, come.

With the healing of division,

with the ceaseless voice of prayer,

with the power to love and witness,

with the peace beyond compare:

Come, Holy Spirit, come.



Evangelical Lutheran Worship, 403
Text: Carl P. Daw, Jr.
© 1982 Hope Publishing Company, Carol Stream, IL 60188. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Contact Hope Publishing Company to make copies of this hymn, or use your or CCLI License.