Friday, September 16, 2005


O God, by whose grace your servant Hildegard, kindled with the fire of your love, became a burning and shining light in your Church: Grant that we also may be aflame with the spirit of love and discipline, and walk before you as children of light; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
The Collect for Hildegard of Bingen

As I looked on the church calendar, I noticed that today observes Hildegard of Bingen. She is a favorite of mine for several reasons. She was a Renaissance woman before her time. She was a musician and wrote songs during her life in the 12th century ( when notation was just becoming to be where we recognize it today - therefore her music is some of the earliest music where music historians believe that what is sung today is probably close to what she intended). She was an abbess who preached throughout Europe and her writings include letters to emperors and popes, bishops, nuns, and nobility.
For more info on Hildegard visit the Mission St. Clare web site.

Her story is interesting, but what sets her apart for me is her music. Interestingly, a resurgence of interest in Hildegard of Bingen began when a nun sang her music, "nuked" it to the 20th century for today's listener. Vision climbed to the top of the charts and crossed over from the classical to what would be thought of as New Age music. Her music is surprisingly simple in its sound, but with that simplicity, it is difficult to sing to convey the purity of its sound that is believed to be what would have been intended to be sung. The group that I sing with in Tallahassee has performed part of "O Frondens Virga", and was a challenge yet the end result produced a yearning for more of her music. The antiphon is tranlated here into English:

O verdant maiden,
standing in thy nobility like the dawning light of day,
now rejoice and be glad,
and think us feeble ones worthy of freeing from
our evil ways;
and even stretch forth thy hand to lift us up.

Little did I know that there is a group that devotes their focus to Hildegard's music. Hilde Girls is a Texas women's group that "honor and explore the mystical wisdom of 12th century mystic and healer Hildegard of Bingen, one of the Earth's most evolved and visionary individuals. "

With her music, several important aspects of my life collide and merge. I find great enjoyment in listening to her music and gives me a sense of calm and closeness to God. I also find that it accompanies knitting nicely and gives me an opportunity to pray and knit together, while listening to great music. Several CDs are available - one mentioned above,Mother Heart - Songs for the Sacred Feminine by Hildegard of Bingen , and The Origin of Fire: Music and Visions of Hildegard von Bingen (by Anonymous 4).

I wonder what Hildegard would have been like if she were a woman of our time? Or does she transcend time and she IS a woman of our time?

1 comment:

Songbird said...

Nice. I want to get that CD.
I think she's a woman of no time and all times. When wouldn't she be needed and inspiring? And yet she is not tied to a context, limited to one reality.