“Come Down, O Love Divine” pairs a text by the Italian mystic poet Bianco de Siena (c. 1350-1399) with a tune by the towering English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958). Translated by the Anglican cleric Richard F. Littledale (1833-1890), Bianco’s hymn is especially appropriate at celebrations of the Holy Spirit (e.g. Pentecost) and Holy Trinity (e.g. Trinity Sunday), and ideal as a wedding prelude.The first two stanzas are a prayer, beseeching the Holy Spirit’s presence on one’s life:
1. Come down, O Love divine, seek thou this soul of mine, and visit it with thine own ardor glowing; O Comforter, draw near, within my heart appear, and kindle it, thy holy flame bestowing.
2. O let it freely burn, till earthly passions turn to dust and ashes in its heat consuming; and let thy glorious light shine ever on my sight, and clothe me round, the while my path illuming.
Vaughan Williams’ tune (“Down Ampney”) is named after the Gloucestershire village in which he was born.
This contemplative arrangement features an introduction by the piano, a solo for French horn followed by a broader statement of the tune by the full ensemble, and a conclusion by the piano.
Score, parts (Bb tpt. 1, Bb tpt. 2, F horn, tbn, tuba, piano) — $12.99