Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Down Ampney

Ralph Vaughan Williams was born today - October 12, 1872 - in Down Ampney, Gloucestershire, England. Aaaaah, so his birthplace is the name of the tune for one of my favourite hymns, Come Down, O Love Divine, which we sang as the offertory on my mother's memorial service in 1992. Sadly, I never had the chance to visit the town when I lived in England in 1999, but I have heard frequently the Choir of King's College, Cambridge recordings of the hymn.

Come down, O Love divine

Latin text from the Golden Sequence (13th cent.); English text translated by R.F. Littledale from Bianco da Siena (d. 1434)

Come down, O Love divine,
Seek thou this soul of mine,
And visit it with thine own ardour glowing;
O Comforter, draw near,
Within my heart appear,
And kindle it, thy holy flame bestowing.

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.
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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