St. Hilary (c. 315-367) was born into a pagan family in Poitiers in France around 315. Following his conversion he became known for his depth of faith and his deep commitment to the church. Though married and a layman, he was elected as bishop in the see of his native town, where he almost immediately became a fervent voice against the Arian heresy of that period. During the next twenty years, he preached and wrote in defense of the orthodox faith, even when sometimes living in exile. St. Augustine called him “the illustrious doctor of the Churches.” As both theologian and poet, Hilary was also a prolific writer of hymns, including the following, written in celebration of Pentecost:
Hail this joyful day’s return,
hail the Pentecostal morn,
morn when our ascended Lord
on his Church his Spirit poured! Alleluia!
Like to clove tongues of flame
on the twelve the Spirit came–
tongues, that earth may hear their call,
fire, that love may burn in all. Alleluia!
Lord, to you your people bend;
unto us your Spirit send;
blessings of this sacred day
grant us, dearest Lord, we pray. Alleluia!
You who did our forebears guide,
with their children still abide;
grant us pardon, grant us peace,
till our earthly wanderings cease. Alleluia!