Sunday, December 22, 2019

Aer enim volat

Antiphon at Lauds (likely for Psalm 148) for St. Ursula and Companions Back to Table of Contents
(D 168r, R 472ra) by Hildegard of Bingen
Aer enim volat
et cum omnibus creaturis officia sua exercet,
et firmamentum eum sustinet ac
aer in viribus istius pascitur.
For the air is fleet
to function with all creatures,
while the firmament sustains it,
the air fed by its energy.
Latin collated from the transcription of Beverly Lomer and the edition of Barbara Newman; translation by Nathaniel M. Campbell.

Transcription and Music Notes
by Beverly Lomer

E mode
Setting: primarily syllabic
Range: D below the final to E an octave above

The phrasing is fairly straightforward in this piece, with the final and fifth serving as the primary punctuating tones. Readers will note that Lines 1 and 4 of the transcription open with the same musical gesture on the word aer. While normal syntax would require that the conjunction ac begin a phrase, it is not unusual for Hildegard to use the musical grammar against the textual syntax and for rhetorical effect, in this case to highlight the repetition of aer. Lines 2 and 3 also repeat their own opening musical motive, though without breaking textual syntax.

A Note on Liturgical Usage

Normally, the fifth psalm antiphon in the Lauds office would accompany a combined singing of Psalms 148-150. However, as explained in our Introduction to this sequence, we follow William Flynn’s suggestion that Hildegard employed an expanded scheme in which each of those three final psalms receives its own antiphon. In that case, this antiphon would be used with Psalm 148—an appropriate pairing, given the psalm’s survey of all creation, bade to praise the Lord.

Further Resources for Aer enim volat
  • Hildegard of Bingen, Symphonia, ed. Barbara Newman (Cornell Univ. Press, 1988 / 1998), pp. 236 and 309-11.
  • Berschin, Walter. “Eine Offiziendichtung in der Symphonia Hildegards von Bingen: Ursula und die Elftausend Jungfrauen (carm. 44).” In Hildegard of Bingen: The Context of her Thought and Art. Ed. Charles Burnett and Peter Dronke. London: The Warburg Institute, 1998, pp. 157-62.
  • Flanagan, Sabina. “Die Heiligen Hildegard, Elisabeth, Ursula und die elftausend Jungfrauen.” In Tiefe des Gotteswissens - Schönheit der Sprachgestalt bei Hildegard von Bingen. Ed. Margot Schmidt. Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt: frommann-holzboog, 1995, pp. 209-22.
  • Flynn, William. “Reading Hildegard of Bingen’s Antiphons for the 11,000 Virgin-Martyrs of Cologne: Rhetorical ductus and Liturgical Rubrics.” Nottingham Medieval Studies 56 (2012), pp. 174-89.
  • Flynn, William. “Hildegard (1098-1179) and the Virgin Martyrs of Cologne.” In The Cult of St Ursula and the 11,000 Virgins. Ed. Jane Cartwright. University of Wales Press, 2016, pp. 93-118.
  • Walter, Peter. “Die Heiligen in der Dichtung der hl. Hildegard von Bingen.” In Hildegard von Bingen, 1179-1979. Festschrift zum 800. Todestag der Heiligen. Ed. Anton Ph. Brück. Mainz: Selbstverlag der Gesellschaft für mittelrheinische Kirchengeschichte, 1979, pp. 211-37, at 223-29.
  • For a discography of this piece, see the comprehensive list by Pierre-F. Roberge: Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179) - A discography

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