FOR BRASS QUINTET, TIMP, AND ORGAN
Descant to the hymn tune DOWN AMPNEY. Free score with harmonized descant. Free score.
The tune DOWN AMPNEY takes its name from the birthplace of the tune's composer, Ralph Vaughan Williams, who gave this tune its name. It was published anonymously in the English Hymnal, the 1906 landmark of which Vaughan Williams, along with Percy Dearmer, was editor. The text is taken from an Italian hymn, Discendi, amor santo, by the 15th C. mystic Bianco da Siena in which the opening phrase of the hymn is sung as an antiphon ('Come down, O love divine, seek thou this soul of mine, and visit it with thine own ardor glowing'). The original is in the form of a laude, a sacred song written in the vernacular - hence, Italian, not Latin. It was translated into English in 1867 by R.F. Littledale for The People's Hymnal. A questionable inclusive-language alteration in one notable hymnal (The Hymnal 1982, ahem) changed "till he become the place" into "till Love create a place," altering the meaning of the original. A more faithful alteration might have read, "for who can guess its grace, till one become the place wherein the Holy Spirit makes a dwelling," putting the soul as the active agent, rather than a passive recipient.
Updated: Oct 31 2019 (Voice leading in organ part, three measures)
Come down, O love divine
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.
– tr. R.F. Littledale
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