Thursday, July 7, 2016

Vos flores rosarum

Responsory for Martyrs (D 163v, R 470r, Scivias III.13.5b) by Hildegard of Bingen Back to Table of Contents
R. Vos flores rosarum,
qui in effusione sanguinis vestri
beati estis
in maximis gaudiis redolentibus
et sudantibus in emptione
que fluxit
de interiori mente
consilii manentis ante evum

R. in illo,
in quo non erat constitutio
a capite.

V. Sit honor in consortio vestro,
qui estis instrumentum ecclesie
et qui in vulneribus vestri
sanguinis undatis:

R. In illo,
in quo non erat constitutio
a capite.
R. You buds of roses,
within your blood outpoured
you’re blessed
in joys supreme and fragrant,
distilled of that redemption
that flowed
from th’ inmost heart
of counsel kept before all time

R. in him
who was unfounded
at the source.

V. An honor in your fellowship!
The Church’s instrument you are
as in your wounds, your waves
of blood, you surge:

R. in him
who was unfounded
at the source.
Latin collated from the transcription of Beverly Lomer and the edition of Barbara Newman; translation by Nathaniel M. Campbell.

Commentary: Themes and Theology
by Nathaniel M. Campbell

The sweet perfume of the red rose pours forth like blood, and so the martyrs’ wounds and waves of blood exude that same joyous fragrance as they flow across the world and “water” the Church’s mission—and in all of this, their suffering participates in Christ’s, whose blood was eternally predestined to redeem that world. The poetic images in this responsory twist and strain against the boundaries of language and even concept, their synaesthetic transformations tying color and aroma with powerful movements of flow and surge, yet all rooted in the timeless counsel of him who has no foundation, for he is himself the foundation.

Barbara Newman has judged this piece, “Hildegard’s poetry at its simultaneous best and worst: it is brimming with intensity and strangeness, but the startling images are sabotaged by unwieldy syntax.” (Symphonia, p. 288) Two features contribute to this syntactic muddiness: first, the oblique case of the participles redolentibus (“fragrant”) and sudantibus (“distilled”) in the opening respond; and second, Hildegard’s penchant for setting much of the piece’s content within a series of nested relative clauses. From the perspective of meaning, the participles should logically refer to the flowers that represent the martyrs; however, Hildegard has syntactically transferred them to the maximis gaudiis (“joys supreme”) in which the martyr-blooms are blessed. The transferred epithets, however, assist in moving the focus of the piece from the martyrs themselves to their participation in Christ’s eternal exemplar of sweet and joyous suffering.

Similarly, although the elaborately nested relative clauses do make it more difficult sometimes to follow the train of thought, they also serve to unify the imagery’s synaesthetic transfigurations. Moreover, Hildegard uses the music to clarify what Newman has criticized as a “strained image [submerged] in a further metaphysical conceit.” (Symphonia, p. 299) She echoes melodic lines that span the responsory’s full octave range on the phrases in maximis gaudiis and de interiori mente, thus providing the crucial link between the concrete image of the martyrs’ rose-scented blood and Hildegard’s invocation of the Incarnation as predestined “before all time” in the divine “eternal counsel.” The martyrs’ “joys supreme” are the beatific vision, their union with and reward for imitating the bloodied but Risen Christ, in whose central redemptive act God “chose us [and them] before the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4: elegit nos in ipso ante mundi constitutionem). It is by that participation in the eternal that their rose-like wounds can exude the aromatic fragrance of Christ’s presence both within and outside of time.

Hildegard’s attempt to describe that timeless and “eternal counsel” (Ps. 32[33]:11) also fumbles through an awkward set of expressions in the respondendum, which literally reads, “in him in whom there was no foundation from the head.” The phrasing was likely triggered by that verse in Ephesians—yet Hildegard strives to go beyond it to express that fact that, though the world has an establishment and framework (constitutio) with a beginning or source (a capite), the one in whom the world has that establishment and beginning is himself without beginning or establishment. Christ is the foundation and the head not only of the Church but, by analogy, of all creation—or rather, as Hildegard describes in her exegesis of of Genesis 1 in Liber Divinorum Operum II.1.17-42, the Church is the final and fulfilled reflection of that primal constitution.

The seeming inelegance of the refrain’s phrasing reflects the same roughshod difficulties that Hildegard faced in the antiphon, Laus Trinitati, where her attempts to express the practically inexpressible in her unpolished Latin often leave her anxiously fumbling through several metaphors and half-formed images. In this responsory, we see one way in which her poetry can vault that hurdle, by employing images that elastically connect the universal and particular. This symbolist mode of thinking allows the concrete images of rose, blood, perfume, and gushing wave to coexist in this responsory with the abstract notion of an unfounded and eternal source from which those concrete images flow.

Such a powerful yet fluid linkage between outer and inner world, concrete image and spiritual reality also allowed Hildegard—in a tradition stretching back to the late antique foundations of monasticism—to see the virgin monastic as the true heir to the martyr’s imitation of Christ. As with so many of the pieces of the celestial symphony in the final vision of Scivias, this responsory connects its particular addressee—the martyrs—to the order of virgins to which Hildegard belonged. Its language is redolent of her description in Scivias II.5.13 of the brightest burning light encircling the figure of the Church:
This symbolizes the perfection of those who imitate the Passion of My Son in the ardor of their love and strongly adorn the Church with their self-restraint. How? Because they are the high building of the growing treasury of the divine counsel [in divino consilio]. For when the Church was invigorated and grew stronger, to increase her beauty there came forth a living fragrance [vivens odor], vowing the way of secret regeneration. What does this mean? That there then arose the wonderful order, which attained to My Son in the beauty of His example; for as My Son came into the world separated from the common people, so this army lives in the world separated from the rest of the people. This people first arose individually in the desert and in hiding, as balsam sweetly oozes from the tree, and then grew into a great multitude, as the tree extends its branches. And I blessed and sanctified this people, for they are to Me the lovely flowers of roses and lilies [amantissimi flores rosarum et lilioroum], which grow in the fields without human labor.[1]
The same cryptic lyricism that characterizes the responsory above is also found in this passage, as Hildegard employs unique images to describe the monastic life—so much so that the translators of this passage added bracketed glosses, to explain that “a living fragrance” means the monks, and “vowing the way of secret regeneration” their religious profession.

Finally, the blooming, bloodied rose of Christ’s passion and those who imitate it recalls the woman who, above all others in the Middle Ages, was associated with the rose, its thorns pricking her heart as she gazed upon her crucified Son: the Virgin Mother Mary. The flower was, unsurprisingly, one of Hildegard’s favorite images for the Virgin (in e.g. Ave generosa or O virga ac diadema); but her more unusual connection to this responsory for martyrs is in the role she shares with them as an instrumentum, as seen in the responsory, O clarissima. As they roll forth as perfumed waves in the wounds of their blood (in vulneribus vestri sanguinis undatis) to water the Church, they echo the Virgin’s role as an “instrument of life” spreading the sweet perfume of the medicinal balm that she poured forth out of her womb—the very same redemption “that flowed from th’ inmost heart of counsel kept before all time,” redolent with the sweet aroma of the blood of Christ and his passionate imitators.

Transcription and Music Notes
by Beverly Lomer

Mode: C
Range: G below the final to G an octave and a fifth above
Setting: neumatic with some melismas, one lengthy melisma

Tonal markers in this piece include C and G, the fifth above the final. Vos flores rosarum differs from many of Hildegard’s C-mode pieces, however, in that there are no signed flats on B in either manuscript source. The actual “modal” intent of Hildegard’s C pieces is not always clear, as the presence of the Bb might be an indication of transposition. Here, the absence of the Bb might indicate a true use of C as the final in its own right, with the G as secondary tone.

The first statement is an extended salutation, as indicated by the use of G as a secondary stopping point, finally ending completely on C after beati estis. The transcription includes a tick barline after vestri on p. 1, line 3, as a possible breathing/phrasing point which accords with the text.

Because C and G function as such obvious grammatical markers in this responsory, the phrasing in general is fairly straightforward. Some lines that begin with C and end on G (as transcribed) can be considered to continue until the next cadence on C, though this can make for phrases that stretch across several lines and may be too long to be sung on a single breath. In some cases, as for example at the end of line 6 on p. 1 (gaudiis), a tick barline has been inserted to indicate the appropriate phrasal ending. In others, the decision is left to the singer or reader.

The long melisma at the end of the respondenum (p. 3, on a capite) has been divided after the pitch G, and the second line begins on C. This break seems to fit best with Hildegard’s musical grammar.

The large number of differences between the manuscripts has necessitated the frequent use of multiple annotations and ossia staves.

Further Resources for Vos flores rosarum
  • Hildegard of Bingen, Symphonia, ed. Barbara Newman (Cornell Univ. Press, 1988 / 1998), pp. pp. 172-3 and 288-9.
  • For a discography of this piece, see the comprehensive list by Pierre-F. Roberge: Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179) - A discography


[1] Adapted from Hildegard of Bingen, Scivias, trans. Mother Columba Hart and Jane Bishop (New York: Paulist Press, 1990), p. 209; Latin text from the edition of Adelgundis Führkötter and Angela Carlevaris, CCCM 43 (Turnhout: Brepols, 1978), pp. 186-7. 

Sunday, June 19, 2016

O victoriosissimi triumphatores

Psalm antiphon for Martyrs (D 163r-v, R 470ra, Scivias III.13.4b) Back to Table of Contents
by Hildegard of Bingen
O victoriosissimi triumphatores,
qui in effusione sanguinis vestri salutantes
edificationem ecclesie,
intrastis sanguinem Agni,
epulantes cum vitulo occiso:

O quam magnam mercedem habetis,
quia corpora vestra viventes despexistis,
imitantes Agnum Dei,
ornantes penam eius,
in qua vos introduxit
in restaurationem hereditatis.
O victors in your triumph!
Your blood poured out, you hail
the building of the Church—
for you have entered in the Lamb’s own blood,
and now enjoy the feast with the slaughtered calf.

How great is your reward!
Your living bodies you’ve despised
in imitation of God’s Lamb—
his pain you take as glory,
for through it he has brought you
to your inheritance restored!
Latin collated from the transcription of Beverly Lomer and the edition of Barbara Newman; translation by Nathaniel M. Campbell.

Commentary: Themes and Theology
by Nathaniel M. Campbell

Scivias III.13:
Heavenly Symphony.
Rupertsberg MS, fol. 229r
This is one of two pieces addressed to the Choir of Martyrs in the final vision of Hildegard’s Scivias (III.13). In the illustration of this celestial symphony in the Rupertsberg manuscript, the roundel that contains the choir of martyrs appears in the lower left, beneath that of the patriarchs and prophets—as they had foretold the coming of the Lamb of God (cf. John the Baptist’s cry in John 1:29), so the martyrs followed that Lamb to the slaughter. As Barbara Newman notes (Symphonia, p. 208), the Tertullianic dictum, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church,” had become commonplace by the Middle Ages, and this antiphon joyously celebrates their role in building the Church with the shedding of their blood, whereafter they entered into the eternal feast of the Lamb as their reward.

Scivias III.13.5a
Riesenkodex, fol. 133ra.
The imagery in the first half of the antiphon is, in fact, quite fluid, because of the indefinite placement of the two participles, salutantes and epulantes, and the finite verb, intrastis. The textual phrasing given above, with edificationem ecclesie the object of salutantes and sanguinem Agni the object of intrastis, is based on the punctuation for this antiphon’s text in the Riesenkodex, as it appears in Scivias III.13.5a (fol. 133ra, shown at left), which marks a phrasal break after ecclesie. However, as Beverly Lomer notes below, the musical grammar does not in any way support this phrasal break. Instead, if we are guided by the musical structure, one striking image—of entering into the Lamb’s blood—gives way to another—of feasting upon that blood:
O victoriosissimi triumphatores,
qui in effusione sanguinis vestri salutantes,
edificationem ecclesie intrastis,
sanguinem Agni epulantes cum vitulo occiso.
O victors in your triumph!
Saluting with the shedding of your blood,
you've entered the building of the Church,
feasting upon the blood of the Lamb as with the slaughtered calf.
Both the “slaughtered calf” and the “restoration of the inheritance” recall the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32)—the calf was prepared for the feast when the son returned home repentant, a sign of his restoration to his forgiving father. Indeed, Hildegard connects the two concepts musically by setting vitulo and restaurationem hereditatis to lengthy melismas that first reach the piece’s highest pitch before cascading down the scale. The connection becomes clearer in Hildegard’s exegesis of this parable in Scivias III.1.5, where she uses it to illustrate the journey of repentance:
As the Scripture says in the Gospel, the younger son said, “I will arise and go to my father and say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against Heaven and before you, and am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me as one of your hired servants’” [Luke 15:18]. This is to say: A person who, admonished by the Holy Spirit, comes to himself after a fall into sin says, “I want to rise up from the unendurable sins whose heavy guilt I can no longer bear. I will retrace my steps in memory, lamenting and sorrowing over my sins, until I come to my Father, Who is my Father because he created me. And I will say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against Heaven, wronging the celestial work that is myself; You formed me by Your will, and touched me in creating me, so that I should be only celestial in my deeds, but I have belittled myself by shameful actions. And I have sinned before You, because I have forsaken the humanity of my nature. (…)

“‘But now, let me be as Your servant, redeemed at the price of Your Son’s blood. You gave Him at a price so great that not even death can ever repay it; but that price allows penitence to arise from Your Son’s Passion, and so sets sinners free. I have lost my rightful inheritance as a child of Adam, for he, who was created a son in justice, was stripped of that joyful glory; but now the blood of Your Son and penitence have redeemed the sins of humanity.’”[1]
What is the connection between this desperate confession of repentance and the glories of the martyrs celebrated in today’s antiphon? In the vision whose explication contains this exegetical confession of the repentant sinner, Hildegard saw the human person clutched at God’s breast, “something like black and filthy muck [limum nigrum et lutulentum], as big as a human heart, surrounded with precious stones and pearls” (Scivias III.1). These “precious stones” represent the saints, whose beauty aids the penitent on their journey:
They are surrounded by ornaments [ornamentis], those great ones who rise up among them: martyrs and holy virgins like precious stones, and innocent and penitent children of redemption like pearls; so that by them the mire [of their sins] is surpassingly adorned, and the virtues, which so gloriously shine in God, shine also in the human body.
     —Scivias III.1.4
In the antiphon above, the shedding of the martyr’s blood joins with the punishment and pain (penam) endured by the Lamb as the glorious adornments of the City of God—the gems that form its foundation and walls, as described in Apocalypse 21. Moreover, Hildegard perceived the restoration of “the inheritance lost in Adam” as one especially of the restoration of music, the symphony that resounds in those jeweled walls, including this song of celebration for the martyr’s victory:
He poured out His beautiful blood and knew in His body the darkness of death. And thus conquering the Devil, he delivered from Hell his elect, who were held prostrate there, and by His redeeming touch brought them back to the inheritance they had lost in Adam [ad hereditatem…reduxit]. As they were returning to their inheritance, timbrels and harps and all kinds of music burst forth, because humankind, who had lain in perdition but now stood upright in blessedness, had been freed by heavenly power and escaped from death.
     —Scivias II.1.13
When the martyrs pour out their own blood in imitation of Christ, the two streams seem to commingle sacramentally in the heavenly feast shared at the altar. The martyr’s act of imitation makes him into an agent of divine grace, a conduit for the redeeming power of the blood into which he has now entered. What makes Hildegard’s treatment of this sacramental and liturgical act unique is its musicality, for the “new song” of the heavenly Jerusalem that rang out when Adam’s inheritance had been restored to the children of earth echoed the resounding cry of Christ’s own blood upon the Cross, as Hildegard evocatively described in the antiphon, O cruor sanguinis. Finally, this is the “new song” that she and her nuns offer in divine praise, for their virginal sacrifice of the desires of the flesh was the counterpart to the martyr’s sacrifice of his flesh (cf. Scivias II.5, discussed in the Commentary on the antiphon for St. John, O speculum columbe). This fundamental connection between martyr and virgin allows Hildegard to assimilate the martyr’s participation in the heavenly court to her own order of virgins, as she articulated for them a preeminent place in the Church’s hierarchy—in the Rupertsberg Scivias illustration above, the roundel of the Choir of Virgins appears in the middle of the other five human choirs.

Transcription and Music Notes
by Beverly Lomer

E mode
Range: A below the final to G an octave and a third above final
Setting: syllabic, neumatic, and some melismas

The antiphon opens with the salutation, O victoriosissimi triumphatores, broken into two segments, each outlined by the final E. Each subsequent small phrase is grammatically demarcated by E. On the first page of the transcription, in the interest of readablility, long phrases have been continued across multiple lines in lines 5 and 6 (edificationem ecclesie intrastis) and 8-10 (epulantes cum vitulo occiso).

Although textual evidence places a break between ecclesie and intrastis (see comments by Nathaniel Campbell above), the melodic line contains no such break, as the pitch D is not used as a grammatical indicator in this piece. In addition, the melody on sanguinem agni is also quite clearly marked out as a sense unit by the modal final, making it impossible to group intrastis with it. It is possible that the musical grammar reflects Hildegard’s original sense of the textual units, but that by the time the Riesenkodex was produced in the 1170’s, the interpretation had shifted. Singers are free, of course, to group the units as they prefer.

The next segment, epulantes cum vitulo occiso, can also be regarded as a single lyrical and musical thought. The tick barline that appears after occiso should be regarded as the completion of the entire unit. If it is too long to sing, then the best break would be at the end of epulantes.

Readers will notice that B becomes a phrase marker in the second half of the antiphon. This is not unusual, as it is the fifth of the mode and hence can bear this function.

The doxology appears only in D and in the margin next to the staff. It is not possible to know for certain what pitches are intended. I opted to transcribe literally, but the pitches seem unlikely for the mode.

Further Resources for O victoriosissimi triumphatores


[1] All quotes from Scivias adapted from the translation of Mother Columba Hart and Jane Bishop (New York: Paulist Press, 1990); Latin text ed. A. Führkötter and A. Carlevaris, CCCM 43-43a (Turnhout: Brepols, 1978). 

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

O dulcis electe

Responsory for St. John the Evangelist [Dec. 27] (D 161v-162r, R 469vb-470ra Back to Table of Contents
by Hildegard of Bingen
R. O dulcis electe,
qui in ardore ardentis
effulsisti, radix,
et qui in splendore Patris
elucidasti mistica,
et qui intrasti
cubiculum castitatis
in aurea civitate
quam construxit rex,
cum accepit sceptrum regionum:

R. Prebe adiutorium peregrinis.

V. Tu enim auxisti pluviam
precessoribus tuis,
qui miserunt illam
in viriditate pigmentariorum.

R. Prebe adiutorium peregrinis.
R. O chosen sweet,
inflamed by Flame
you gleamed, a root,
and in the Father’s radiance
you beamed the mysteries,
and went into
the bed of chastity
within the golden City,
constructed by the King
when he received the scepter of the lands:

R. To pilgrims lend your aid.

V. For you have swelled the rain
together with your predecessors,
who cast it
with the spicers’ viridity.

R. To pilgrims lend your aid.
Latin collated from the transcription of Beverly Lomer and the edition of Barbara Newman; translation by Nathaniel M. Campbell.

Commentary: Themes and Theology
by Nathaniel M. Campbell

This responsory for St. John complements the imagery of its companion antiphon, O speculum columbe especially in its treatment of John’s special vocation—shared by Hildegard and her nuns—as a virgin contemplative. Like that antiphon, its opening is structured around three images, here arranged into three relative clauses (qui…): a gleaming root set aflame by the flaming Son; a mirroring beam of the Father’s mysteries; and the virgin’s destined home with that Son, the shining Lamb at the center of the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:23). The pilgrims for whom the repetendum seeks John’s aid are the virgin nuns, making their way along the pilgrimage road of this life to the royal bedchamber in the golden City of God, where they will recline (as John did at the Last Supper) with their Bridegroom, Christ. (The bridal imagery returns in Hildegard’s compositions for virgins, especially the antiphon, O pulcre facies, and the “symphony,” O dulcissime amator.)

The burning heat and flame (ardore) of that virginal eroticism espoused to Christ, the Flame burning with love (ardentis), also connects to the sunlight of O speculum columbe—the paradox of seething passion sublimated into sweet repose, a classic move of twelfth-century monastic devotional literature. The imagery of light, gleaming and beaming (effulsisti…elucidasti), also connects this piece to Hildegard’s compositions for the prophets (O spectabiles viri and O vos felices radices). John’s sweet election is to be ingrafted into the root of light, knowledge, and being itself, to become a conduit (we might think of a fiber-optic cable) for Christ, the true Light declared in the prologue of his Gospel (John 1:9). This office of shining beacon and mirror of God is shared by all God’s chosen prophets and servants—in Hildegard’s typology, a line stretching from Adam to herself:
For with divine strength, prophecy began in God’s first work—Adam—throughout the time when the old law appeared with its harshness and then came to an end with the advent of the ardor of justice and truth. Prophecy has thus shown from generation to generation through the various ages of humankind, like a light in the darkness (John 1:5), and it will not rest from its sound until the world’s ending, offering words of multivalent signification because it is imbued with diverse mysteries by the Holy Spirit’s inspiration. For prophecy exists in humankind like the soul in the body, because as the soul is hidden within the body and the body is governed by it, so prophecy that comes from the spirit of God, who excels all creation, is invisible, and by it every failure is reproached and all who leave the path of righteousness are led back.
The prophets indeed had said that the woman who was to give birth ought to come forth from the act of charity, like the branch from the root of Jesse (Isaiah 11:1)—and they all ascribed this virginal birth to the King, the Son of God. For when this woman enclosed the Son of God and humans saw and heard him in the likeness of their own image, they loved him more than if they had not seen him—for what humans see in shadow they cannot know in fullness. So too when the prophets spoke in the sound of shadow, they often passed through as if in shadow those things that nevertheless were all afterwards rendered in solid form among humans, because prophecy’s sound proceeds from the hidden mysteries of divinity.
     —Liber Divinorum Operum III.2.2-3[1]
This combination of truth-revealing light and sound shines with echoes in Hildegard’s compositions for the apostles, O cohors milicie and O lucidissima apostolorum turba, precisely because proclaiming the Light is the Church’s mission. It is thus also a characteristic feature of Hildegard’s own synaesthetic visionary and prophetic experience—and so she invokes John’s visionary and contemplative gift when she describes “the extraordinary mystical vision” that provoked the writing of the Liber Divinorum Operum:
It was as if the inspiration of God were sprinkling drops of sweet rain into my soul’s knowing, the very same with which the Spirit instructed John the Evangelist when he drank in from the breast of Jesus the most profound of revelations. His sense at that time were so touched by the sacred Divinity that he revealed hidden mysteries and works, saying, “In the beginning was the Word…” (John 1:1), etc.
     —Vita S. Hildegardis (“Life of St. Hildegard”), II.16[2]
These are the very same drops of rain celebrated in this responsory’s verse, as the beaming root bursts into bloom “with the spicers’ viridity” (in virditate pigmentariorum). The garden imagery (again recalled from O speculum columbe) is, in the literal sense, of the specialist’s herbarium or perhaps even apothecary, where one cultivates those particular plants renowned for their perfumes, spices, or special pigments (the range of meanings associated with pigmentum). But as with all of her natural images, Hildegard always has ready a spiritual extension—in this case, the spice-maker (pigmentarius) is her special term for bishops and priests, who produce the healing chrism and fragrant balm with which to anoint sinners for salvation:
The apostolic teaching shone around the head of the Church when the apostles first began to build her up by their preaching; moving through different places, they collected workers who would strengthen her in the Catholic faith and make themselves into priests and bishops and all the ecclesiastical orders (…). Therefore, the chrism-makers [pigmentarii] conform to that teaching (…). What does this mean? That [the apostles’] followers, who took their places, faithfully traverse streets and farms and cities and other places, regions and lands, carrying the health-giving chrisms [saluberrima pigmenta] and announcing the divine law to the people. (…) For they have this office that they may openly serve the bread of life to the people.
     —Scivias II.5.1[3]
This description of the Church’s ministers as pigmentarii comes at the opening of the very same vision in Scivias that later centers on the order of virgins to which Hildegard and her nuns belonged, gleaming and beaming at the heart of Mother Church, singing the new song of the heavenly Jerusalem that John the Divine described in Revelation 14 (as discussed in the Commentary on O speculum columbe). St. John’s sweet rain nourished the Promised Land of the Church to spring forth the choicest blooms, redolent with salvific fragrance, shining like gemstones in the golden City’s walls (cf. Revelation 21) to declare the True Light (cf. John 1:8-9), and resounding with the Word’s purest voice.

Transcription and Music Notes
by Beverly Lomer

E mode
Range: A below the final to C above
Setting: Combination melismas, neumatic, and syllabic settings

This work is primarily organized by the final, E. The transcription phrasing follows the musical structure. The Verse departs somewhat from the grammatical punctuation by the final and employs the C below and the G above as tonal markers.

In those cases where phrases are too long to be fit on a single line, they are continued, and a tick barline has been placed at the conclusion. In some cases, singers might opt to phrase differently while keeping essentially within the outline by E. For example, the salutation, O dulcis electe, is quite long, and one might elect to separate out each of the words or to group as: O / dulcis electe.

Lines 7 and 8 on page 1 of the transcription contain four segments, each outlined by the final (et qui in splendore / patris elucidasti / mistica / et qui intrasti), which might be combined or separated differently. In particular, one could follow the textual syntax and begin One could also, a line with the final segment, et qui intrasti. Hildegard sometimes goes to the note below the final to initiate a phrase with a conjunction, such as et. However, in this case, the melody does not immediately move to the final, as it generally does when she employs this strategy. Intrasti also ends similarly to the line above (elucidasti), while the melody on cubiculum begins similarly to the other opening statements on et qui in splendore and mistica. The phrasing in the transcription thus preserves these musical structures, even when in conflict with the textual structures. (See the introductory article on the Music page on Hildegard’s use of rhetorical strategy, including repetition of beginning and ending phrases, for more information.)

The repetendum is indicated at the end of the piece by the repetition of Prebe, as per the manuscript sources.

Further Resources for O eterne Deus


[1] Liber diuinorum operum III.2-3: Latin text ed. A. Derolez and P. Dronke, CCCM 92 (Turnhout: Brepols, 1996), pp. 355-6; trans. Nathaniel M. Campbell, in St. Hildegard of Bingen, The Book of Divine Works (Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, forthcoming). On this “treatise on prophecy” in the context of Hildegard’s own vocation, see Bernard McGinn, “‘Trumpets of the Mysteries of God’: Prophetesses in Late Medieval Christianity,” pp. 125-42, esp. 127-9, in Propheten und Prophezeiungen—Prophets and Prophecies, ed. Matthias Ridel and Tilo Schabert (Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann, 2005). 
[2] Trans. by Anna Silvas in Jutta & Hildegard: The Biographical Sources (Brepols, 1998; Pennsylvania State Pres, 1999), p. 179; Latin text ed. Monika Klaes, Vita Sanctae Hildegardis—Leben der heiligen Hildegard (Fontes Christiani, Bd. 29; Herder, 1998), p. 172: “Et de Dei inspiratione in scientiam anime mee quasi gutte suavis pluvie spargebantur, quia et Spiritus sanctus Iohannem evagnelistam imbuit, cum de pectore Iesu profundissimam revelationem suxit, ubi sensus ipsius sancta divinitate ita tactus est, quod absconsa mysteria et opera aperuit, ‘In principio,’ inquiens, ‘erat verbum’ etc.” 
[3] Scivias II.5.1: trans. Mother Columba Hart and Jane Bishop (Paulist Press, 1994), pp. 202-3; Latin text in the edition of Führkötter and Carlevaris, CCCM 43 (Turnhout: Brepols, 1978), pp. 177-8. 

Friday, April 8, 2016

O speculum columbe

Psalm antiphon for St. John the Evangelist [Dec. 27] (D 161v, R 469vb) Back to Table of Contents
by Hildegard of Bingen
O speculum columbe
castissime forme,
qui inspexisti misticam largitatem
in purissimo fonte:

O mira floriditas
que numquam arescens cecidisti,
quia altissimus
plantator misit te:

O suavissima quies
amplexuum solis:
tu es specialis filius Agni
in electa amicicia
nove sobolis.
O mirror of the dove—
the chastest form—
you gazed upon the mystic bounty
within the clearest font:

O wondrous, flourished bloom
that never withered, never fell—
the Most High
Gardener has sent you forth:

O sweet repose
of sunshine’s warm embrace:
the Lamb’s especial son you are
within that privileged friendship of
a new posterity.
Latin collated from the transcription of Beverly Lomer and the edition of Barbara Newman; translation by Nathaniel M. Campbell.

Commentary: Themes and Theology
by Nathaniel M. Campbell

St. John, the “beloved disciple” of Jesus in his eponymous Gospel (John 21:20-24), held a unique place not only among the Twelve but also in Hildegard’s understanding of their shared virginal and visionary charism. It was commonly accepted in the Middle Ages both that he was the same man as John of Patmos, the author of the Apocalypse; and that John’s particular gift was lifelong virginity, which marked him out for the special place “reclining nearest to Jesus” at the Last Supper (John 13:23) and as the Virgin Mary’s adoptive son beneath the beam of the Cross (John 19:26-7). In contrast to the bloody martyrdoms of the other eleven apostles, John’s martyrdom was the spiritual death of the desires of the flesh, marking him as the first representative of the monastic discipline of vowed virginity that came to receive the transferred crown of martyrdom in late antique and medieval Christianity.

The focus of this antiphon is Hildegard’s praise for her comrade in virginity, expressed in three particular symbolic images that articulate the special contemplative gift afforded “the new posterity” of the Order of Virgins within the Church. The first of these—the speculum columbe—expresses the idea that, in imitating the purity of the simple white Dove, the virgin contemplative receives from the Holy Spirit the gift of gazing upon divine mysteries at their font and source, unimpeded by the cloudiness and shadows that plague the person still wedded to the desires of the flesh. The absolute purity of the divine foreknowledge as the source of all being is only perfectly available through the chastest flesh of that divinity’s Incarnation, whose imitation the virgin contemplative seeks—Hildegard expresses similar ideas in her antiphon for the Virgin Mary, O splendidissima gemma. The music in this first part of the antiphon for St. John works to emphasize that the more chaste one is, the more pure the contemplation will be, by repeating the same motif on castissime and purissimo—a motif that itself reaches to the high C, the highest note in the piece.

For St. John, who lived with Jesus in the flesh, this gift of clearest contemplation came when he lay nearest to the Lord at the Last Supper. As he rested his head upon Christ’s breast, John drank from his heart—the fons sapientiae, the source of wisdom (Sirach/Ecclesiasticus 1:5)—in fulfillment of Christ’s words, “If any one thirst, let him come to me and drink. He who believes in me, as the scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water’,” (John 7:37-38).

This “living water” flows also to water the second symbolic image for John’s virginity, the flower. This was a common image in Hildegard’s pieces devoted to the Virgin Mary and her Son (see e.g. Hodie aperuit nobis or Ave generosa), but she gives it a unique treatment here by invoking, not just a flower, but very concept or idea of flowering (floriditas)—a state of perpetual, virginal flourishing that takes its root from its eternal planting by the arresting image of God the Gardener. This planting, however, is also the mission of a new and holy race.

Thus, the final image of John’s virginity triangulates the contemplative’s mirrored vision and the flower’s fertile blooming with the sunlight that embraces both. The warmth of this embrace echoes one of Hildegard’s frequent images to describe her own visionary experience of the Living Light (lux vivens) and its shadow, e.g. at the opening of Scivias: “Heaven was opened and a fiery light of exceeding brilliance came and permeated my whole brain, and inflamed my whole heart and my whole breast, not like a burning but like a warming flame, as the sun warms anything its rays touch.”[1] This intimate embrace is that of the special friendship afforded to virgins as children of the Lamb, whose unblemished flesh they imitate so dearly.

In Hildegard’s schema of the three orders of the Church (Scivias II.5), her own order of Virgins holds the highest and most honored place, above both laity and clergy. In both that vision itself and the illustration of it in the Rupertsberg manuscript, the figure standing at the very heart of the towering image of Ecclesia is Virginitas (Virginity), her arms outstretched in the orans position, echoing the oblation of prayer offered by Mother Church herself:
This is Virginity, innocent of all foulness of human lust. Her mind is unbound by any shackle of corruption (…). She is also, as is shown you in this hidden and supernal light, the noble daughter of the celestial Jerusalem, the glory and honor of those who have shed their blood for love of virginity or in radiant humility preserved their virginity for the sake of Christ and died sweetly in peace. For she was betrothed to the Son of Almighty God, the King of all, and bore Him a noble brood [nobilissimam prolem], the elect choir of virgins, when she was strengthened in the peace of the Church.
     —Scivias II.5.6
The highest and particular office of this elect and noble virgin progeny was, for Hildegard, their service of song, as she envisioned the musical offering of prayer each day in the Benedictine opus Dei (“work of God”) as practically sacramental in its mediation of divine power (virtus) through human voices that echo in the golden halls of the Church.[2] Moreover, it was St. John, in his role as revelator, who testified to this:
Hence, as you hear, all those who their desire keep their integrity for the sake of celestial love are called “daughters of Zion” in the celestial habitations; for in their love of virginity they imitated my Son, Who is the flower of virginity. Therefore the sounding echoes of the blessed spirits and the outpouring of voices and the winged decorations of happy minds and the golden vision of shining stones and jewels are all with them. How? Because the Son of God grants them this, that a sound goes forth from the Throne in which the whole choir of virgins joins in singing with great desire and harmonizing in the new song, as John, the beloved virgin, testifies, saying:

“And they sang, as it were, a new song before the throne, and before the four living creatures and the ancients,” (Revelation 14:3). What does this mean? In those faithful ones who embrace chastity for a good purpose and preserve their virginity unstained for love of God, good will bursts forth wonderfully in praise of their Creator. How? In the dawn-light of virginity, which always surrounds the Son of God, steadfast praise is hidden; no worldly office and no tie of the law can resist it, and it sings in the voice of exultation (Ps. 41:5) a celestial song to the glory of God. How?

That song, which was not heard before the Only-Begotten of God, the true flower of virginity [verus flos virginitatis], returned in the body from earth to Heaven and sat again on the right hand of the Father, has a swift course and makes itself heard wonderfully in new liberty. (…) This new and unheard-of mystery resounded in Heaven in honor of virginity, before the majesty of God (for God could do this) and before the four wheels that rolled into the four corners of the earth bearing the truth of justice and the humanity of the Savior like the living creatures in the new Law, and before those ancients who were imbued with the Holy Spirit and showed the path of righteousness to the people under the old Law.
     —Scivias II.5.7-8

Commentary: Music and Rhetoric
by Beverly Lomer

Mode: E
Range: G below the final to C a sixth above the final
Setting: neumatic, with some longer segments and selected melismas

This antiphon displays a somewhat unusual modal configuration. While it is in E mode, E is never used as a grammatical marker, as is common in Hildegard’s work. Rather, it begins with the pitch E and moves immediately to C as the primary outlining tone. G is used as a secondary outlining pitch, and the melody does not return to E until the final note.

The salutation, O speculum columbe, is rather long, and for ease of reading, is divided into two lines, with a tick barline at the end of line 2 of the transcription. Lines 5 and 6 are similarly structured. Phrases are otherwise self-contained on a single line, with two additional exceptions: lines 8 and 9 on page 1, and lines 10 (page 1) and 1 (page 2). O mira floriditas can be grouped with que numquam aresens cecidisti, and quia altissimus can be sung as one phrase with plantator misit te. The lines have been separated in the transcription, however, based on similarities in melodic units. O mira floriditas and quia altissumus contain almost identical melodies, and the melodic lines on que numquam... and plantatator... are also somewhat parallel structures. Singers should feel free to choose how much, if any, separation they wish to employ.

In this piece, Hildegard uses C a third below the final as the primary phrase marker. C an octave above appears on select key words, a strategy familiar in Hildegard’s works. The use of the high C and its characteristic motive serves to link certain ideas. It first appears on castissime (“most chaste”) and a few lines later on purissimo (“most pure”), linking the two key themes of human chastity and divine purity in Hildegard’s theology. Thus it is also sounded on filius (“son”) and agni (“Lamb”), directly connecting John’s pure chastity with that of Jesus. Finally, the C motive echoes multiple times to reinforce this link on electa amicicia (John’s “chosen friendship” with Jesus) and nove sobolis (the “new race” of virginity forged in that friendship).

Further Resources for O speculum columbe


[1] All quotations from Scivias are from the translation of Mother Columba Hart and Jane Bishop (Paulist Press, 1994); Latin text in the edition of Führkötter and Carlevaris, CCCM 43 (Turnhout: Brepols, 1978). 
[2] See Nathaniel M. Campbell, “Imago expandit splendorem suum: Hildegard of Bingen’s Visio-Theological Designs in the Rupertsberg Scivias Manuscript,” Eikón / Imago 4 (2013, Vol. 2, No. 2), pp. 1-68, esp. pp. 57-61; available online here

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

O lucidissima apostolorum turba

Responsory for the Apostles (D 161r-v, R 469va, Scivias III.13.4b) Back to Table of Contents
by Hildegard of Bingen
R. O lucidissima
apostolorum turba,
surgens in vera agnitione
et aperiens
clausuram magisterii diaboli,
captivos in fonte
viventis aque,
tu es clarissima lux
in nigerrimis tenebris,
fortissimumque genus columnarum,
sponsam Agni sustentans
in omnibus ornamentis

R. ipsius,[1] per cuius gaudium
ipsa mater et virgo est

V. Agnus enim inmaculatus
est sponsus ipsius
sponse inmaculate

R. ipsius, per cuius gaudium
ipsa mater et virgo est
R. O luminous
apostles’ band—
to recognize the truth you rise
and open wide
the schoolhouse prison of the devil’s mastery,
to wash
its captives clean within the font
of living water—
you are a brilliant light
within the darkest shadows,
the strongest kind of pillars
the Lamb’s Bride to uphold
in all the ornament

R. of him through whose rejoicing
that Mother Virgin bears
her banner.

V. For the spotless Lamb’s
the Bridegroom of
that spotless Bride

R. of him through whose rejoicing
that Mother Virgin bears
her banner.
Latin collated from the transcription of Beverly Lomer and the edition of Barbara Newman; translation by Nathaniel M. Campbell.
[1] Normally, the manuscripts of Hildegard’s music indicate the final portion of the respond that is to be repeated as the repetendum or refrain by copying out the first few notes/words after the verse (the medieval version of a coda). However, both manuscripts lack any indication of the repetendum for this responsory. In her edition, Newman assumed the final phrase, per cuius...vexillata, would have served that role (Symphonia, pp. 164 and 286). However, such an assumption would violate the musical grammar, as per cuius begins on the high octave g rather than the final of the mode, G, and thus could not begin a new choral phrase after the final solo notes of the verse (immaculate, ending on the final G); see further in Beverly Lomer’s Notes on the music below. If we are to conjecture a repetendum for this piece, the only musically appropriate place to begin it is on the prior word, ipsius, which begins on the final G. Because our edition privileges the musical grammar, we have allowed this transgression of textual propriety to stand.

Commentary: Themes and Theology
by Nathaniel M. Campbell

This responsory gleams with images of the light of truth shattering the darkness of ignorance, thus developing one of the themes of its companion antiphon, O cohors milicie, for the idols overturned by the apostolic guard’s mighty shout in the latter might be thought of as the guardians of the Devil’s darkened classroom in this piece. The epistemological blindness sown by that diabolical instruction is countered by the true teaching mission of the apostles, as described in the explication of the lost “core connections” of a people without a city in the parable in Scivias III.7.7 (for which see the commentary on O cohors milicie):
And so, going forth, they made their way among the faithless peoples who did not have core connections [umbilicos], which is to say the sign of the knowledge of holy innocence and justice, and whose city, which is to say the instrument of God’s law, had been destroyed by faithlessness. And to these they announced the words of salvation and of the true faith in Christ. And thus they brought back many of this throng to the knowledge of God and led them to the core [umbilicum], which is to say the font of baptism, where they received the holiness that they lost by their proud transgressions. And they built the holy city of the commandments of God, thus rebuilding the city which the seducer the Devil had taken from them in Adam, and restored it to them in the faith that leads to salvation.[1]
Scivias II.4:
Tower of the Church

Rupertsberg MS,
fol. 60r.
In this responsory, Hildegard roots this apostolic mission of rebuilding the city in images drawn from her frequent visions of Ecclesia, the Mother Church. In particular, the light of apostolic teaching gleams from the Holy Spirit’s anointing fire at Pentecost, which in Scivias II.4.1 supports the Church as a tower, immense and round, of gleaming white stone. Though the preceding vision (II.3) had introduced the figure of Mother Church as she cries out to conceive and give birth to her children in the cleansing waters of baptism, it is in this one that she is strengthened and her children confirmed by the anointing of the sacrament of Confirmation:
After the illumination of baptism, which rose with the Sun of Justice Who sanctified the world by His own washing, the new Bride of the Lamb was adorned and confirmed in the fire of the ardor of the Holy Spirit for the perfection of her beauty. So also each of the faithful who is regenerated by the Spirit and water should be decorated and confirmed by the anointing of a bishop [superioris doctoris], so that he will be strengthened in all his members toward achieving beatitude and find himself most perfectly adorned with the full fruits of highest justice.
     —Scivias II.4.1
Much of Hildegard’s emphasis in this vision of the confirmed citadel of the Church falls on the vital role of the bishops—the absolute successors of the apostles—as teachers. In the passage just quoted and at several other points in the vision, she uses the term “superior teacher” (superior doctor) for the office of bishop, and ties it directly to the the apostolic teaching that reveals the Trinity (three windows shining at the top of the tower). She again invokes the military metaphor that would reappear in O cohors milicie to describe that apostolic mission against the “ravening wolves” of the pagans, “so that by fighting they constructed the Church and strengthened her with strong virtues to build up the faith and adorned her with many brilliances [multimodis coruscationibus ornauerunt]” (Scivias III.4.3).

In both that vision and this responsory, Hildegard sees the powerful girding and strong columns of the Church as irradiated by the divine light of truth, perhaps like the stone tracery in which windowpanes are set. The beauty of the Church’s adornment is intertwined with the lightsome power of her teachers: “Just as gold is adorned by having precious stones set into it, so baptism is adorned with the chrism given to those baptized in the faith by the hand of the bishop [superioris doctoris]” (Scivias III.4.6). The gleam of bejeweled and golden adornment is also the gleam of the Holy Spirit’s fire, which “enkindled [the apostles’] hearts as the sun” and “passed through them and showed the bright sunlight of their teaching” (Scivias III.4.8). As the fire of Pentecost brought fully into the light the apostolic mission that had previously been hidden in timidity, so confirmation at the hands of a bishop—a teacher—sets alight the grace first kindled in baptism:
Therefore, a person who has received the mystery of regeneration unto life has not taken possession of the fullness of churchly ornaments unless he is anointed in this way, as the Church is adorned by the glorious Holy Spirit. And as the Church is perfected by the gifts of the Holy Spirit, a believer ought to be confirmed by the anointing of the bishop [principalis doctoris], who is the reverend master [formidabilis magister] in the honor of the Holy Spirit; for the Holy Spirit by its fire brings forth and kindles sure doctrine in the Christian people.
     —Scivias III.4.9
As the Scivias symphony continues its movement through the ranks of the celestial hierarchy, the initial ministry of the apostles as historical teachers and preachers of God’s true reality becomes the bedrock upon which Christ’s Bride, the Church, stands tall, entrusted with his banner of victory. Successive choirs will water that tower’s verdant grown with their blood and blossom as roses upon its walls (the martyrs) and continue that apostolic ministry within the sacerdotal offices (the confessors), while the dawn light will gleam green and beauteous with Hildegard’s own choir of virgins. This responsory forms the transition point by allowing the individual lights of the apostles to coalesce into Mother Church’s singular, joyous beacon.

In that regard, this responsory should also be read in conjunction with Hildegard’s antiphons dedicated solely to the Church in Symphonia 66-69. The first two form a pair that first lament “the savage wolf” snatching away her children (O virgo Eccleisa) before rejoicing at her victory over the “vile snake” (Nunc gaudeant). The turning point in that battle comes at the end of O virgo Ecclesia as “the Savior’s precious blood...seals his bridegroom’s promise to the Church with the banner of the king.” Meanwhile, the third piece, O orzchis Ecclesia, uses words drawn from Hildegard’s Lingua Ignota (“Unknown Language”) to describe the Church in an arresting amalgam of images: immense, enfortressed, bejeweled and gleaming, redolent of the balm that heals the wounds of her people, a city of sciences and knowledge anointed with soaring song.[2] The final antiphon, O choruscans lux stellarum, again conjoins bridal imagery with glittering light to invite the Church to “flee the cavern of the ancient destroyer” and “come into the palace of the King.”

Transcription and Music Notes
by Beverly Lomer

G mode
Range: C below the final to B an octave and a third above the final
Setting: Melismatic and neumatic

O lucidissima is a responsory of praise for the apostles as the pillars of the Church, who support her as the Bride of the Lamb. It opens with a two part melismatic salutation: O lucidissma, which begins on the final and finishes on F; followed by apostolorum turba, which begins and ends with the pitch F.

While Hildegard’s usual practice is to outline key phrases and words with the final or fifth of the mode, in this piece she shifts from G to F, with occasional excursions into other pitch areas. The word surgens is a fulcrum that connects the salutation to the beginning of the narrative, with the melody dipping down a third to D, while the subsequent phrase, in vera agnitione, ends on F. The next segment, et aperiens, also commences with D and is completed on F. Note the placement of tick barlines on lines 3, 5 and 8 of the first page of the transcription. These are intended to clarify the phrases, as the melodies are too long to place on one line as per our usual methodology.

If one keeps in mind the stylistic shifts between G and F as outlining pitches, the phrasing after the salutation and opening of the narrative should be fairly straightforward, with one exception. On page 3 of the transcription, the text sense would appear to break between ipsius (line 3) and per cuius (line 4), as ipsius properly belongs with the previous phrase, in omnibus ornamentis. However, per cuius gaudium might alternatively function as an elliptical connector, which Hildegard frequently employs. The musical grammar of the melodic line interrupts the textual grammar: to end one phrase with the high G on ipsius and begin a new one with the liquescent on per makes less musical sense than the grouping we have chosen. We have included a tick barline on the main staff after est (line 5) to indicate that that a break should not be made after gaudium ipsa, i.e. lines 4-5 are a single phrase.

In this segment there is also a significant difference between the sources, as shown in the ossia staves. Given that per cuius gaudium ipsa ends on D, the Riesenkodex version (in the ossia staff) might make more sense for mater et virgo est, which ends on F, in line with the general use of G and F as alternating outline tones in this piece. On the other hand, the Dendermonde rendition of the next segment, the melismatic vexillata, adheres more closely to the use of G and F as tonal markers; the Riesenkodex ending of the respond on pitch B seems odd. We would recommend following R for mater et virgo est and D for vexillata.

It is our policy to add no editorial ficta. In this piece, there are a number of iterations of the tritone (interval of F to B, B to F). While the B flat is notated in some of these iterations, it is not in all, as medieval singers would have known to add them. We recommend judiciously applying additional B flats.

Further Resources for O lucidissima apostolorum turba

Footnotes to the Commentaries

[1] All quotes from Scivias adapted from the trans. of Mother Columba Hart and Jane Bishop (New York: Paulist Press, 1990); Latin text ed. Führkötter and Carlevaris, CCCM 43 and 43a (Turnhout: Brepols, 1978). 
[2] See further discussion in Nathaniel M. Campbell, “Imago expandit splendorem suum: Hildegard of Bingen’s Visio-Theological Designs in the Rupertsberg Scivias Manuscript,” Eikón / Imago 4 (2013, Vol. 2, No. 2), esp. pp. 60-1; accessible online here