THE GIFT OF THE SPIRIT
“…Repent, and be baptized…and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:38)
INTRO.: A song which relates the coming of the Holy Ghost or Holy Spirit to our lives as Christians is “The Gift of the Spirit” (#500 in Sacred Selections for the Church). The text was written by Palmer Hartsough (1844 – 1932). Educated in Plymouth, Ypsilanti, and Kalamazoo, MI, Hartsough was a teacher of vocal music who lived in Ontario, WI. In 1893, he became associated with the Fillmore Brothers of Cincinnati, OH, and is perhaps best known for the invitation song, “I Am Resolved No Longer to Linger.”
The tune for “The Gift of the Spirit” was composed by James Henry Fillmore (1849-1936). The song was copyrighted in and first appeared in The Praise Hymnal of 1896 edited by Fillmore and Gilbert Ellis for the Fillmore Bros. Publishing House of Cincinnati, OH. The copyright was renewed in 1924. Besides Sacred Selections, it was used in the 1937 Great Songs of the Church No. 2 edited by E. L. Jorgenson. It was originally in two stanzas. Stanzas 3 and 4 have been added.
The song talks about some of the blessings and benefits which the Spirit brings.
I. Stanza 1 mentions the coming of the Spirit
The Father kind above
Sent forth in tender love
His Spirit in full measure:
A gift divinely free,
In every heart to be
A comfort and a treasure.
- The Father sent the Holy Spirit in full measure (Ellis Crum in Sacred Selections changed “full measure” to “a measure,” whatever that means) to the apostles: Acts 2:1-4
- While no one else has the same power of the Spirit as the apostles did, the Scriptures do teach that there is some sense in which the Spirit is given to all who obey God: Acts 5:32
- Whatever this sense may be, it is a comfort and a treasure because it enables us to know that we abide in God and He in us: 1 Jn. 4:12-13
II. Stanza 2 refers to the indwelling of the Spirit
Within our hearts shall be
This fountain pure and free
Of living waters springing;
And every tender grace
Shall flourish in the place
While songs of joy are ringing.
- The Holy Spirit dwelling in the Christian is like a fountain pure and free of living waters: Jn. 7:37-39
- The influence of the Spirit in the Christian’s life produces every tender grace in bearing the fruit of the Spirit: Gal. 5:22-25
- Another result of being filled with the Spirit is singing songs of joy: Eph. 5:18-19
III. Stanza 3 identifies the message of the Spirit
O take the news around
Wherever sin is found,
The Spirit’s message preaching;
Yes, we must share the word
With those who have not heard,
The hearts of lost ones reaching.
- The Spirit’s message is found in the word of God: Eph. 6:17
- The Spirit wants the message of His word preached to all: 2 Tim. 4:1-2
- This is how He reaches the hearts of the lost to convict them of sin: Jn. 16:7-11
IV. Stanza 4 tells of the ultimate goal of the Spirit
The Spirit guides our hand
Till we reach heaven’s land
Where there will be no sorrow;
Forever we shall sing
Our praises to the King
In that bright, glad tomorrow.
- The Bible definitely teaches that we are to be guided or led by the Spirit: Gal. 5:16-18
- The Spirit’s aim in this guidance is to lead us to heaven’s land where there will be no sorrow: Rev. 21:1-4
- There we shall join with the redeemed of all ages to sing praises to our King: Rev. 5:8-10
CONCL.: The chorus emphasizes the importance of having the Spirit in our hearts.
The gift of the Spirit,
In gently falling showers descending from above,
Shall we not receive it
Sent to us from God in love?
Our hearts all renewing,
So peaceful and so pure, so beautiful and bright,
Our lives all bedewing
With its holy joy and light.
This song is not well known among us perhaps because brethren have generally been a bit leery of hymns about the Holy Spirit due to the large amount of false teaching concerning Him in the religious world. Scholars have debated what “the gift of the Holy Ghost” is. Is it the Spirit Himself as a gift, or is it a gift given to us from the Spirit, and if the latter, precisely what is this gift? I personally understand this to be the objective genitive meaning that the Spirit is the gift. However, I also understand it as simply a figure of speech in which the Spirit is put metonymously for the blessings and benefits that He brings us. Believers have also debated how the Spirit dwells in the Christian. Is it a literal, physical, bodily presence, or is it also accomplished figuratively? Again, I understand that the Spirit metaphorically dwells in us by the influence that He has upon us through the teaching of His revealed word as we apply that teaching to our lives. Thus, I can sing the song knowing that this is what I believe the Bible to teach about “The Gift of the Spirit.”