Our Mother-tongue Is Love; A Sonnet for Pentecost

A Pentecost Banner at St. Michael ‘s Bartley Green

Here, once more is my sonnet for Pentecost, posted on the eve of the feast in case anyone wants to use it in Church tomorrow.

Drawn from ‘Sounding the Seasons’, my cycle of sonnets for the Church Year, this is a sonnet reflecting on and celebrating the themes and readings of Pentecost. Throughout the cycle, and more widely, I have been reflecting on the traditional ‘four elements’ of earth, air, water and fire. I have been considering how each of them expresses and embodies different aspects of the Gospel and of God’s goodness, as though the four elements were, in their own way, another four evangelists. In that context I was very struck by the way Scripture expresses the presence of the Holy Spirit through the three most dynamic of the four elements, the air, ( a mighty rushing wind, but also the breath of the spirit) water, (the waters of baptism, the river of life, the fountain springing up to eternal life promised by Jesus) and of course fire, the tongues of flame at Pentecost. Three out of four ain’t bad, but I was wondering, where is the fourth? Where is earth? And then I realised that we ourselves are earth, the ‘Adam’ made of the red clay, and we become living beings, fully alive, when the Holy Spirit, clothed in the three other elements comes upon us and becomes a part of who we are. So something of that reflection is embodied in the sonnet.


As usual you can hear me reading the sonnet by clicking on the ‘play’ button if it appears in your browser or by clicking on the title of the poem itself. Thanks to Margot Krebs Neale for the beautiful image which follows the poem.

Sounding the Seasons, is published by Canterbury Press here in England. The book is now back in stock on both Amazon UK and USA . It is now also out on Kindle. Please feel free to make use of this, and my other sonnets in church services and to copy and share them. If you can mention the book from which they are taken that would be great..


Today we feel the wind beneath our wings
Today  the hidden fountain flows and plays
Today the church draws breath at last and sings
As every flame becomes a Tongue of praise.
This is the feast of fire,air, and water
Poured out and breathed and kindled into earth.
The earth herself awakens to her maker
And is translated out of death to birth.
The right words come today in their right order
And every word spells freedom and release
Today the gospel crosses every border
All tongues are loosened by the Prince of Peace
Today the lost are found in His translation.
Whose mother-tongue is Love, in  every nation.

Whose Mother-tongue is Love in every nation


Filed under christianity, imagination

12 responses to “Our Mother-tongue Is Love; A Sonnet for Pentecost

  1. Evangeline DeMaster

    I love this poem!! It speaks also to my own detritus, coming back to life after losing my husband of 55 years. Thank You!


  3. Donna Brewster

    For the second time in two days, this poem which was unknown to me was ‘given’. The first time it was while in the company of a sorrowing soul, and its impact on both of us was profound. It seems important, somehow, this year, so I am passing it on. Thank you!

  4. Brian Barclay

    Thanks Malcolm, I really like and appreciate all your poetry.Especially your wonderful story of walking around Ireland many years ago.Thanks for sharing.May God bless you and yours,sincerely,Brian Barclay

  5. Reblogged this on Pastor Michael Moore's Blog and commented:
    A beautiful Sonnet for Pentecost! Thank you, Malcolm ❤️

  6. Hope, music, Holy Spirit power, joy. Thank you so much for sharing this Malcolm!

  7. This is filled with the wonder and mystery of the day — and it’s a natural sonnet not forced into a form where it does not belong.

  8. This speaks to me of the vision I was pondering in my blog. With credit to you, I am sharing the closing four lines before we head into a Visioning Workshop immediately following worship. Thank you, Malcolm ❤️

  9. bgulland72

    Lovely. I wrote a spoken word poem (posted here on my blog) for Pentecost that was played on BBC Radio Leeds on Sunday. Very different style, aiming to engage a sceptical mainstream audience. I love how such varied styles of poetry & communication can reach different audiences.

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