Come Down, O Love Divine

On June 12th, the Day of Pentecost, the choir will sing an anthem by the 20th century American composer Roland Martin. Roland Martin is a member of the Music faculty of SUNY at Buffalo, NY, where he teaches organ, harpsichord, and piano, and serves as opera vocal coach and accompanist. He has been Director of Music for St. Joseph's University Church (Roman Catholic) in Buffalo, NY, since 1992, and is the founder and director of Speculum Musicae, an ensemble for early music. Mr. Martin received his Bachelor and Master of Music degrees from the State University College at Fredonia, NY. As an organist, he has played numerous recitals throughout the United States and played one of the first performances of the recently discovered Neumeister Chorales of J. S. Bach.

This anthem for the Day of Pentecost, Come Down, O Love Divine, is based on a four verse poem by Bianco da Siena (d. 1434) that is probably best known to the tune Down Ampney, a tune that the great Ralph Vaughan Williams wrote for the English Hymnal, 1906. In his anthem Come Down, O Love Divine for mixed choir and organ, Roland Martin writes a fresh new theme accompanied by toccata-like flourishes in the organ accompaniment - perhaps symbolic of the tongues of fire and rushing winds of the Holy Spirit. The third verse of the anthem, "Let holy charity Mine outward vesture be" is sung to tune Veni Creator Spiritus, one of the oldest hymns of the Ancient Church. This was one of the most famous of the hymns found in the Roman Breviary that dates back to the 9th century. It was traditionally reserved for the Day of Pentecost and for occasions such as the consecration of bishops and ordination of priests. The anthem concludes in the festive toccata in which it began for the fourth and final verse - "And so the yearning strong..."

Derek E. Nickels, DMA
Director of Music