This Sunday, June 18, Christians of the Greek Church all over the world will keep the Great Feast of Pentecost that falls fifty days after their celebration of the Resurrection of Christ on Easter Sunday. On this Sunday they will remember the descent of the Holy Spirit of God upon the Apostles and disciples of Christ who were gathered at an upper room in Jerusalem in 33 AD. So what does this have to do with Colonel Philip Ludwell III?
In the Orthodox tradition of the Greek Church there are two particular liturgical prayers invoking the Holy Spirit that are not used in the fifty days following Easter Sunday and are then reintroduced on the Great Feast of Pentecost. English translations from the Greek originals of both of these texts were made by Colonel Philip Ludwell III and written down in the service book that he passed on to his children. The first of these is now commonly referred to in English as O Heavenly King and is rendered in plural as in the original language. As with some of his other translations Ludwell changed this to make it more personal and immediate when used for private prayer. His translation is thus rendered:
O King of Heaven the Comforter the Spirit of Truth who art present in all Places and fillest all things: who art the Treasure of all good, and the giver of Life, come and dwell in me and purge me from all impurity and Save O Lord my Soul.
The other prayer reintroduced at Pentecost is found towards the end of the Divine Liturgy of St John Chrysostom. In this instance Ludwell’s translation is much closer to that most commonly used today:
We have seen the true Light, we have received the heavenly Spirit, we have found the true Faith, by worshipping the undivided Trinity for that hath saved us.
From his translation of the Orthodox Confession of the Catholic and Apostolic Eastern Church we can tell that Ludwell is in no doubt as to the Divinity of the Holy Spirit. I will conclude this short reflection on Pentecost with one small excerpt from this catechism, published by Ludwell in London in 1762:
…the Holy Ghost is GOD, and of the same Substance with the FATHER and the SON…the SON and the HOLY GHOST both of them immediately and equally have their Origin of the FATHER; the Son as being begotten, and the Holy Ghost as proceeding.
Image of Orthodox icon of Feast of Pentecost courtesy of Greek Orthodox Church of Margate.