Breathe on me, breath of God
Edwin Hatch wrote this hymn in 1878. The hymn is a prayer. The first line of each stanza is "Breathe on me, breath of God."
That phrase reminds us of the creation in which God "formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living thing" (Genesis 2:7).
It also reminds us of Jesus breathing on his disciples and saying to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit" (John 20:22).
We need the Holy Spirit, the spirit of God, living within us – guiding us, inspiring us, helping us to live the kind of life that God created us to live.
Edwin Hatch's hymn prays that God will breathe on us and fill us with life anew, even as he breathed life into the first man, Adam. It prays that God will breathe on us to purifiy our hearts. It prays that God will breathe on us until we are wholly devoted to God. It prays that God will breathe on us that we might never die. This hymn, then, is a prayer for God's help in this life and throughout eternity.
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Rev. Andrew Smith
Vicar of Light in the Hills