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Hymn of the week: “Come Down, O Love Divine”

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The 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time

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.

“Come Down, O Love Divine” is a 14th-century hymn written by Bianco da Siena. Bianco was for a time part of a community known as the Jesuates (not to be confused with the Jesuits), consisting of lay brothers who followed the rule of St. Augustine. He is credited with 92 hymns; however only a handful have been translated into English and have come into common use.

The English text was set to an early 20th-century tune called “DOWN AMPNEY,” written by English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams. Vaughan Williams was active as a composer through both World Wars and his symphonies are still held in high regard in the UK. He has also made many additions to the great American songbook with his series of works titled Songs of Travel.

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