Come Down O Love Divine

Come down, O love divine is poem written by Bianco da Siena in the late 1300's.

Born in central Italy around 1350 he worked as a wool carder until at 17 years of age he joined a new religious group called the Jesuates. They were a small group of men, none of them ordained, who took it upon themselves to live a life of poverty, worship, preaching and service. Bordering on the mystic and ecstatic they were often regarded as a nuisance being at one time banished from Siena for 'imparting foolish ideas to the young men of the city '. When bubonic plague broke out it was the Jesuates who nursed and buried the victims thus earning wider respect.

They became a recognised religious order in 1367 but were required to give up their roaming life and settle down in Umbria and Tuscany where they continued their life of poverty and comforting the poor and sick. Little else is known about Bianco other than he settled in Venice and died in either 1399 or 1434.

Bianco was a poet and many of his poems were widely read in the Middle Ages and found in many manuscripts. One hundred and twenty are known and 92  published in 1851 including Come down, O love divine.

As you listen to these words think of what Bianco must have seen with his eyes upon the tracks he travelled and through the villages he passed and the skies he gazed up at; in the hills and the trees, the suffering and the poverty, the broken beings he helped to nurse. What is it that he saw that moved his hands to write such words of love and tranquillity?

Lord may we have within us

this deep, glowing desire

for your Presence.

And may we, as the years pass away,

find that your Spirit

has found a place in our heart

where it is welcome and loved.

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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,
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 Love create a place
wherein the Holy Spirit makes a dwelling.