June 9, 2013

Come Down, O Love Divine

Seek Thou, This Soul Of Mine

Come Down, O Love Divine is a translation of the Italian poem, Di­scen­di, Amor San­to (The Holy Spirit Desired) by Bi­an­co of Si­e­na (c.1350-1434). He was an early member of the Jesuates, a penitent lay order founded by Giovanni Colombini (c.1300-1367) in 1360. Bi­an­co da Si­e­na wrote some 92 poems called laudi spirituali. He knew Catherine of Siena (1347-1380) and sent her one of these poems along with a lengthy letter. In 1867 Di­scen­di, Amor San­to was translated into English by the Anglo-Irish clergyman and writer, Dr. Richard Frederick Littledale (1833–1890). In 1906 Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958) composed the tune, Down Ampney specifically for the text. It is named after his birthplace of Down Ampney. In the Divine Office, Come Down, O Love Divine is used during Morning and Evening Prayer.

Tune: Down Amp­ney

COME DOWN, O LOVE DIVINE by Ri­chard Lit­tle­dale, 1867 (Public Domain)

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.

O let it freely burn,
til 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.

Let holy charity
mine outward vesture be,
And lowliness become mine inner clothing;
True lowliness of heart,
which takes the humbler part,
And o’er its own shortcomings weeps with loathing.

And so the yearning strong,
with which the soul will long,
Shall far outpass the power of human telling;
For none can guess its grace,
till he become the place
Wherein the Holy Spirit makes His dwelling.

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