Anthem 27 – Come, Holy Spirit, heavenly Dove

Welcome to Anthem 27 in my attempt to write a new choir anthem every week for a year. I’m Kevin Mulryne and I hope you will enjoy listening to my progress throughout 2024. Please do visit the website, follow along on – @realanthem52 or Instagram – @realanthem52 and send me a message to

If you are reading these show notes as soon as it they are released in July 2024, I am currently on an island in the middle of the Indian Ocean celebrating my 30th Wedding Anniversary. As a result, as I have mentioned a couple of times, I have posted an anthem I wrote in January 2024 rather than a brand new one. So the project still remains a new anthem every week, as long as you are prepared to let me have a little artistic license. The reason I am able to publish the anthem now is that I didn’t win the competition. It was great experience though.

The rules of the Isacc Watts Composition Competition included that the words must be by Watts (a prolific 18th Century hymn writer) and the anthem had to be for choir and organ – with the option of a part for a school choir in unison.

Here are the words I chose from Watt’s catalogue:

Words for Anthem 27:

Come Holy Spirit, hea’vnly Dove,

With all Thy quick’ning powers

Kindle a flame of sacred love in these cold hearts of ours.

Look how we grovel here below,

Fond of these trifling toys,

Our souls can neither fly nor go

To reach eternal joys.

In vain we strive to rise

And our devotion dies.

This is the first anthem I have written that I have worked on extensively and revised to improve it after feedback from my children. Originally, it had a repeat of the opening material and it went on far too long without a change. Instead I slotted in a contrasting, minor key passage for the words ‘Look how we grovel here below, Fond of these trifling toys; Our souls can neither fly nor go, To reach eternal joys. ‘ I then threw in an unaccompanied duet between bass or tenor and the top line, singing to ‘ah’. This continues, slightly slower still in the minor.

Finally, the original speed, organ introduction and opening choir material reappears to end.

I was pleased with the overall effect of the anthem, particularly the contrasts but I would probably refine some of the ‘safer’ material and spice it all up a bit if I was to review it at a later date.

Anyway, see what you think:

Well, what do you think? Let me know on @realanthem52, Instagram @realanthem52, as a comment below or via email

I hope you will join me next week for a new episode (perhaps featuring my second interview – will I ever record another?) – and a new anthem – only 25 to go – but until then the question remains – will I make it to Anthem 52?

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