Sunday, July 18, 2021

Sed diabolus

Antiphon at Lauds (likely for Psalm 150) for St. Ursula and Companions Back to Table of Contents
(D 168r-168v, R 472rb) by Hildegard of Bingen
Sed diabolus in invidia sua
istud irrisit,
qua nullum opus Dei
intactum dimisit.
But envious,
the devil mocks,
which leaves no work of God
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

Mode: D
Range: A below the final to D an octave above
Setting: syllabic, one melisma

This is a short piece in which D is the primary tonal marker. A is used secondarily. It is possible to consider that it is composed of two longer phrases, Lines 1-2 and 3-4 of the transcription, in which each phrase would begin and end on the modal final. There are discrepancies between the manuscripts. Line 3 begins with quod in D, but is corrected to qua in R.

A Note on Liturgical Usage

In line with the expanded psalmody we have proposed for this Office (see Introduction), we suggest that this antiphon would have been paired with Psalm 150, the last of the final trio of psalms at festal Lauds. William Flynn has suggested that the devil's mockery of the virgin martyrs becomes a mockery of the act of praising God to which all creation (God's work) is called in the psalm. This universalizes the specific story of Ursula and her companions (a move that Hildegard makes repeatedly in her compositions for them) and sets the stage for the final triumpth of the antiphon for the Gospel canticle, Et ideo puelle iste.

Further Resources for Sed diabolus
  • 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


  1. Hello, There are wrong notes in the transcription, last line starts with e, g, a, g, f, e, f, e, d, c... there is a b (probably rather a ficta, b flat) before the very last note.
    Text 'quod' in the source 'qua'.
    Best wishes.

    1. What is your source for the alternate transcription of "intactum..." beginning on e? Our transcriptions are based on the two manuscripts sources (links should take you to them):
      D 168v
      R 472rb
      I just checked the online images and both manuscripts agree that "intactum" begins on d, not e. The piece likewise ends on d in both sources (i.e. the final neume of the piece is the same as the first neume on "intactum").

      Our transcriptions follow the Dendermonde as the primary source, which is why the transcription prints "quod" (the reading in Dendermonde) but the text at the top of the webpage prints "qua" (the correct reading in the Riesencodex).

    2. Thank you for your reply. I see from the picture of the Riesencodex that "intactus" starts with an e.

      I was wrong about the penultimate sound in the ligature, I thought the upper part of 'sit' was another sound.

    3. Looking at it a second time, you are right! The Risencodex sets "intactum" one step higher (e-g-a--g-f-e) than in Dendermonde (d-f-g-f-e-d). However, they return to being in sync with "dimisit" beginning on f. As Beverly Lomer noted, this is not the only place where there are discrepancies between the manuscripts.

      Our transcriptions privilege the Dendermonde manuscript as a our base source (because it is the earlier manuscript). Moreover, the use of the modal final (d) as a framing tone makes the Dendermonde setting more likely. Nevertheless, we will try to get the transcription updated to not the alternative setting in the Riesencodex.

      Thank you for bringing this to our attention!

    4. Thank you for this conversation, it was very useful for me.