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Francis’s voluntary

Francis’s voluntary for Pentecost

There are some magnificent pieces for organ for the Feast of Pentecost. They are often based around the plainchant, believed to date from the 9th century, ‘Veni Creator spiritus’.

    This chant is, of course, still sung in Christian churches throughout the world, usually—in English—to the words: ‘Come Holy Ghost, our souls inspire’. 


Veni creator verse 1 JPEG


    Among the celebrated pieces for organ based on this chant are the Parisian composer Maurice Duruflé’s Prélude, adagio, et choral varié sur le theme du ‘Veni Creator’, Op. 4 (1926-30) and, before him, the exquisite and strange 5 versets on the ‘Veni Creator’ by the elusive French organist Nicolas de Grigny. These were published in Paris in 1699. De Grigny, about whom we know almost nothing, created a strikingly different sound world from his peers and his music remains haunting. More recently, there is, among other works for organ, an intriguing piece (from 2006) by the Estonian minimalist, Arvo Pärt, simply called ‘Veni Creator’. 

    But ... none of these is suitable for a short Zoom voluntary. I have been taking some improvisation lessons from David Pipe at Leeds Cathedral. And what I will play at Pentecost will be a short improvisation on this noble plainchant in the style of modern French composers for the organ. It is my small gesture towards the idea of inspiration.