The Spirit of God
1. The Spirit of God like a fire is burning!
The latter-day glory begins to come forth;
The visions and blessings of old are returning,
And angels are coming to visit the earth.
We’ll sing and we’ll shout with the armies of heaven,
Hosanna, hosanna to God and the Lamb!
Let glory to them in the highest be given,
Henceforth and forever, Amen and amen!
2. The Lord is extending the Saints’ understanding,
Restoring their judges and all as at first.
The knowledge and power of God are expanding;
The veil o’er the earth is beginning to burst.
3. We’ll call in our solemn assemblies in spirit,
To spread forth the kingdom of heaven abroad,
That we through our faith may begin to inherit
The visions and blessings and glories of God.
4. How blessed the day when the lamb and the lion
Shall lie down together without any ire,
And Ephraim be crowned with his blessing in Zion,
As Jesus descends with his chariot of fire!
Text: William W. Phelps, 1792–1872. Included in the first LDS hymnbook, 1835. Sung at the Kirtland Temple dedication in 1836.
Music: Anon., ca. 1844
“The Spirit of God Like a Fire Is Burning” (also “The Spirit of God” or “Hosanna to God and the Lamb”) is a hymn of the Latter Day Saint movement. It was written by W. W. Phelps, one of the most prolific hymnwriters of early Mormonism.
The hymn was sung for the dedication of Kirtland Temple, 27 March 1836. The song continues to be sung throughout the various Latter Day Saint denominations, including The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), Community Of Christ, and the Remnant Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. It is sung as part of Hosanna Anthem, a special piece for the dedication of all LDS temples that includes “The Spirit of God”.
Early printings of the hymn contain text only, although tune names were given twice in the church newspaper, the Messenger and Advocate. The January 1836 issue of the Messenger and Advocate specifies the tune American Star. On the other hand, the March 1836 issue specifies the tune Hosanna when it was sung for the dedication service of the Kirtland Temple. At least four tunes were associated with the hymn since it was written. While these tunes were likely familiar to many of the members of the church at the time, there is some ambiguity today as to how these tunes were sung.
J. C. Little and G. B. Gardner published an unofficial hymnal 1844 in Bellows Falls, Vermont, which is the first Latter Day Saint hymnal to include any music. “The Spirit of God,” is included as the very first hymn and it is set to the tune Hosanna, which is the same tune used today—although the notes in the refrain differ slightly from modern editions, and it contained only soprano and bass instead of the four parts typical of modern editions.