Ralph Vaughan Williams: Come Down O Love Divine — Choir of King’s College, Cambridge

The Choir of King’s College, Cambridge performing the first four verses of "Come Down O Love Divine". This much loved hymn has a long history, the original Latin text (VENI, Sancte Spiritus, … ) known as "The Golden Sequence" was most likely composed by Archbishop of Canterbury, Stephen Langton (d 1228).  Bianco da Siena (d. 1434)included it in his "Laudi spir­it­u­ali del Bi­an­co da Si­e­na". Bianco da Siena died before the discovery of printing but fortunately some of his manuscripts survived and were collected and published by an Italian scholar – Telesforo Bini, in 1851.  Bini’s work came to the attention of Richard Frederick Littledale and it is Littledale’s translation set by Ralph Vaughan Williams, (1872-1958) to the Tune of "Down Ampney" that is sung today.  Enjoy :-)


This particular version is performed by the world renowned choir of King’s College Cambridge and led by director of music Stephen Cleobury. Verse 2 is particularly charming as the male only first half breaks into a full choir fortissimo harmony for the second half.

Source: Come Down O Love Divine (Down Ampney) – performed by the choir of King’s College, Cambridge – YouTube Uploaded by ryanpostlethwaite on Sep 27, 2009

Lyrics: Come Down O Love Divine

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.

6 thoughts on “Ralph Vaughan Williams: Come Down O Love Divine — Choir of King’s College, Cambridge

  1. One of my favourite hymns sung so beautifully by this choir. I imagine the author I heaven rejoicing and the angels joining in. I look forward to hearing this hymn in heaven.

  2. Thank you for your wonderful list. I always associate Come Down O Love Divine with Easter – I suspect that we sang it during Assembly at this time of year as a child. It is a wonderful hymn at anytime.

    • It is a wonderful hymn I agree, I suspect your memory is correct it’s perfect for Easter. Glad you like the site I hope you’ll visit and enjoy the music often.


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