Come, Teach Us, Spirit of Our God

seeking new images of creativity in learning

Music by Ron Klusmeier
Words by Shirley Erena Murray
Tune Name: TEANAU

Lyrics as Poetry

Come, teach us, Spirit of our God,
the language of your way,
the lessons that we need to live,
the faith for every day.Excite our minds to follow you,
to trace new paths in store,
new flight paths for our spirit space,
new marvels to explore:

Engage our wits to dance with you,
to leap from logic’s base,
to capture insight on the wing,
to sense your cosmic grace:Inspire our spark to light from you,
to catch creation’s flair,
new artistry to celebrate,
new harmonies to dare:

Delight our hearts to worship you,
to learn compassion’s code,
to live in context of your love,
great teacher who is God!


Words by
Shirley Erena MurrayCopyright © 1992 by Hope Publishing Company
Carol Stream, Illinois • USA

Comments About Song

Comment by
SHIRLEY ERENA MURRAY
from her book
“Every Day in Your Spirit” (#7):

“This text… looks for new images of creativity in learning, especially in schools and colleges.”


Every Day in Your Spirit
is published by:Hope Publishing Company
Carol Stream, IL USA


A Reflection by hymnwriter
WALTER FARQUHARSON

There was one word that we would not tolerate in our home. Joan and I both agreed that it was not tolerated in the homes in which we had grown up. We did not use the word and, if our children did, there were serious consequences to be faced. Some of the grandchildren were known to choke on the half-spoken word, mutter something to themselves then either redirect conversation or simply disappear. The word was ‘bored’.

The sermon that followed such an utterance affirmed that feeling bored was a call to wake up. Feeling bored meant that there was something we were too dulled of mind and spirit to see, to pay attention to, to respond to. There was no shortage of things to engage us. “I have just the job for you that will interrupt your boredom,” was the parental or grandparental final word on the subject.

As I read this hymn I thought, “The poet has heard too many people, inside and outside of the church, complain that church, or life in ‘this’ place, or even life itself, was borrrring.” What was troubling was the speakers’ lack of awareness, their state of semi-consciousness, their insensitivity to the movement of the Spirit of God.

“Come, teach us, Spirit of our God”. Excite our minds. Engage our wits. Inspire our spark. Delight our hearts. Too often we resist being taught because that requires learning and change. We fear excitement because it opens us to take risks. And it is particularly in matters of the spirit that we tend to be most fearful. Is it not ironic that our global society can so easily applaud and finance the exploration of new pathways into space and faraway planets while refusing to contemplate the possibility of world peace or expanding justice or something as mundane as changing community demographics? As Shirley prays “Come, Spirit of our God … excite our minds … to trace new flight paths for our spirit space.”

This hymn pulses with energy. Excite. Explore. Engage. To leap, to dance, to capture insight on the wing, to catch creation’s flair, new artistry to celebrate, new harmonies to dare. This is not faith for the faint-hearted and apologetic. Nor is it discipleship for those who prefer to remain securely in the comfort of who and where they are rather than take up any cross that isn’t safely anchored on a sanctuary wall.

The last verse of this hymn has much to offer us.
“Delight our hearts to worship you,
to learn compassion’s code,
to live in context of your love,
great teacher who is God!”

If we turn our thoughts to the story of creation in Genesis Chapter 1, we read that God created the human ones in God’s own image. Over the ages the human ones have repeatedly created their gods in the image of the human ones, particularly of the powerful and often oppressive human ones! Humanity repeatedly is at work creating new idols, false gods who will do the bidding of their human masters and definers. As in the story of the golden calf as told in Exodus (Chapter 32) the golden calves will be credited with being the agents of liberation, (These be your Gods who brought you out of the land of Egypt) and they will be the guarantors of law and order and of assured prosperity for those already possessing it.

We are better served by thinking that rather than humankind being created in the image of God, humankind has its true birth, its genesis, in the imagination of God. That is the imagery of this poem. “Inspire our spark to light from you, to catch creation’s flair.” Creation and inspiration are never static. There is always a becoming about every work of art and every dream or vision. “Engage our wits to dance with you, to leap from logic’s base, to capture insight on the wing, to sense your cosmic grace.” Dance is relational. Logic is not wrong but logic that is turned to stone is imprisoning. Logic that is not a living thing, the logos, the word that takes flesh, becomes another idol.

The context within which we live is the context of God’s love. When we know this within our hearts, we become open to truly understanding compassion and, day by day, circumstance by circumstance, living it. The prophets spoke again and again of hearts and minds recreated. Ezekiel spoke of hearts of stone being replaced by hearts of flesh. Hope and the possibility of change is received as good news.

The Book of Revelation describes in code what happens when idolatry is wed to autocracy. Caesar becomes the anti-Christ. Frightened people become dispirited. Dispirited people may gladly welcome autocrats who promise salvation and demand nothing but absolute loyalty. Autocrats come in many forms. They can be individual or corporate, political or religious. They create golden calves, visible symbols serving the purposes of their proponents. Such idols are hardened and controllable while appearing flexible. They are often supported through the use of familiar anthems, symbols, creeds and definitions.

In reading a poem or singing a hymn so charged with meaning it is important not to confuse its message with that offered by a certain manifestation of church that substitutes novelty for newness. It is easy to offer a very comfortable message that dissolves into mirroring society’s current fads and fancies while being devoid of anything very challenging or costly. We may seem to be prophetic when we denounce past tyrannies and oppressions or those deemed far away or even outside our neighbourhood. It is much harder to look squarely at the tyrannies being born or quietly growing on our watch.

As we grasp what it means and what it yet may mean to live in the context of God’s love our living changes and our world changes. The boundaries of our neighbourhoods and the boundaries of our empathy and compassion also change. “Come, teach us, Spirit of our God, the language of your way, the lessons that we need to. Live, the faith for every day.” Amen.


An Activity: Choose a situation that is on your mind. It could be a relationship or family situation, it might be a concern such as mental illness, addiction, a situation where justice has gone wrong or is totally confusing, a matter of neighborhood, local or national politics, your congregation …. Something.

Read the poem again, carefully. As you consider different words, phrases, or the whole poem jot down questions that arise for you, thoughts you have, possibilities that come to mind, anything that seems to call for action on your part – or a different perspective.

If you are with a group some might want to share something that came out of the reading and reflecting. No one should be pressured to share.

                                                    Audio Sample for "Come, Teach Us, Spirit of Our God"

One verse played on piano

Scripture References

  • Genesis 1:1-4
  • Genesis 26
  • Genesis 27
  • Exodus 32:1-14
  • Isaiah 55
  • Jeremiah 31:31-34
  • Ezekiel 36:26-28
  • Ezekiel 37:1-14
  • Luke 4:16-21
  • John 1:1-18
  • John 13:31-35
  • John 14:25-27
  • Acts 2:1-18
  • 1 Corinthians 12:4-13
  • Revelation 16
  • Revelation 17
  • Revelation 21:1-7
  • Revelation 22:1-7

Season, Theme
or Subject

  • Art, The Arts
  • Compassion
  • Dance
  • Excitement
  • Faith
  • Pentecost
  • Renewal
  • Spirit
  • Teacher, Teaching
  • Worship

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