123- Come Down, O Love Divine

Please turn your hymnals to number 123 and join with the clarinets in, “Come Down, O Love Divine”.

Number: 123
First Line: Come Down, O Love Divine
Meter: 6 6, 11. D.
Tempo: Moderately slow; may be sung in unison
Music: R. Vaughn Williams, 1872-1958
Text: Bianco da Siena, 1434
Tr. Richard Frederick Littledale, 1833-90

Clarinet Arrangement: 123-ComeDownOLoveDivine

Not the first R. Vaughn Williams hymn, but a nice one. I will note, the tune seems to be named after the town he was born in.

Ralph Vaughan Williams; OM 12 October 1872 – 26 August 1958) was an English composer of symphonies, chamber music, opera, choral music, and film scores. He was also a collector of English folk music and song: this activity both influenced his editorial approach to the English Hymnal, beginning in 1904, in which he included many folk song arrangements set as hymn tunes, and also influenced several of his own original compositions.

Ralph Vaughan Williams was born on 12 October 1872 in Down Ampney, Gloucestershire, where his father, the Reverend Arthur Vaughan Williams (the surname Vaughan Williams is an unhyphenated double-barrelled name of Welsh origin), was vicar. Following his father’s death in 1875 he was taken by his mother, Margaret Susan née Wedgwood (1843–1937), the great-granddaughter of the potter Josiah Wedgwood, to live with her family at Leith Hill Place, a Wedgwood family home in the Surrey Hills. He was also related to the Darwins, Charles Darwin being a great-uncle. Though born into the privileged intellectual upper middle class, Vaughan Williams never took it for granted and worked all his life for the democratic and egalitarian ideals in which he believed.

Despite his substantial involvement in church music, and the religious subject-matter of many of his works, he was described by his second wife as “an atheist … [who] later drifted into a cheerful agnosticism.” It is noteworthy that in his opera The Pilgrim’s Progress he changed the name of the hero from John Bunyan’s Christian to Pilgrim. He also set Bunyan’s hymn Who would true valour see to music using the traditional Sussex melody “Monk’s Gate”. For many church-goers, his most familiar composition may be the hymn tune Sine nomine written for the hymn “For All the Saints” by William Walsham How. The tune he composed for the mediaeval hymn “Come Down, O Love Divine” (Discendi, Amor santo by Bianco of Siena, ca.1434) is entitled “Down Ampney” in honour of his birthplace.

Red Service Book and Hymnal
Red Service Book and Hymnal