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Breathe on me, Breath of God

Representative Text

1 Breathe on me, Breath of God,
fill me with life anew,
that I may love the way you love,
and do what you would do.

2 Breathe on me, Breath of God,
until my heart is pure,
until my will is one with yours,
to do and to endure.

3 Breathe on me, Breath of God,
so shall I never die,
but live with you the perfect life
for all eternity.

Psalter Hymnal, 1987

Author: Edwin Hatch

Hatch, Edwin, D.D., was born at Derby, Sep. 4, 1835, and educated at Pembroke College, Oxford, B.A., in honours, in 1857. After holding important appointments in Canada, he returned to England and became Vice-Principal of St. Mary Hall, Oxford, 1867; and Rector of Purleigh, 1883. (See also Crockford). He died Nov. 10, 1889. His hymn-writing was limited. One, and that a very spirited lyric, is in Allon's Congregational Psalmist Hymnal, 1886 "Breathe on me, Breath of God." (Whitsuntide.) Dr. Hatch's hymns were published in his posthumous Towards Fields of Light, London 1890. --John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology, Appendix, Part II (1907)  Go to person page >

Text Information

First Line: Breathe on me, breath of God
Title: Breathe on me, Breath of God
Author: Edwin Hatch (1878)
Language: English
Copyright: Public Domain
Liturgical Use: Prayer Songs


Scripture References:
st. 1 = Ezek. 36:27
st. 1-3 = Joel 2:28, John 20:22

The text is a prayer for renewal by God's Spirit (like Ps. 51:10-12), a renewal that is to be expressed in a life of love (st. 1), in purity of heart and will (st. 2), and in an intimacy with God that heralds the perfection of eternal life (st. 3). In both Hebrew and Greek the Word for "spirit" is the same as "wind/air/breath"; thus in this text the Spirit of God is referred to as "Breath of God."

Intended as a hymn for ordination, this text by Edwin Hatch (b. Derby, England, 1835; d. Oxford, England, 1889) was privately printed in 1878 and then published in Henry Allon's The Congregational Psalmist Hymnal in 1886. Hatch evidently had a simple and childlike faith; that description fits this text as well.

Hatch grew up in a Non-conformist home, was educated at Pembroke College, Oxford, England, and ordained in the Church of England in 1859. A teacher of classics and church history, he taught at Trinity College, Toronto, Canada (1859-1862), and at a high school in Quebec City (1862-1867). In 1867 he returned to Oxford, where he served the academic world with great distinction, particularly as a specialist on early Christian history. His few hymn texts were published posthumously in Towards Fields of Light (1890).

Liturgical Use:
Pentecost; as a prayer for renewal; ordination and other commissioning services; profession of faith.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook, 1988



Robert Jackson (b, Oldham, Lancashire, England, 1842; d. Oldham, 1914) originally, composed TRENTHAM as a setting for Henry W. Baker's "O Perfect Life of Love" (380). Named for a village in Staffordshire, England, close to the town in which Jackson was born, the tune was published with the Baker tex…

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Include 221 pre-1979 instances
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