Thursday, September 12, 2019

BOOK REVIEW: Sara Salvadori, Hildegard von Bingen: A Journey into the Images (Skira, 2019)

Sara Salvadori. Hildegard von Bingen: A Journey into the Images. Trans. Sarah Elizabeth Cree and Susan Ann White. Milan: Skira, 2019. 224pp, 175 color illustrations. Available from the publisher and Amazon.

Two decades after Lieselotte Saurma-Jeltsch’s landmark study of Hildegard of Bingen’s Scivias illustrations—the first volume to reproduce full-size, full-color plates from the modern replica of the lost manuscript[1] —English-language readers finally have access to a comparable edifice in Sara Salvadori’s new study. Whereas Saurma-Jeltsch approached the images as a professional art historian (and thus her volume is indispensable for setting the historical context for the manuscript), Salvadori has spent years trying to understand the images from the inside-out, as it were. Her meticulous analysis and exploration of their “grammar and rhetoric” has combined with the lavish editorial direction of arthouse publisher Skira to produce this remarkable and beautiful volume.

The book comprises three main sections. The first section is introductory, and includes two prefaces by renowned Italian scholars, Giorgio Mazzanti and Michela Pereira (the latter also provided the Italian translations of Hildegard’s texts), as well as a brief Introduction by Salvadori that sketches out the structure of the “journey.” Chapter I gives a “Portrait” of Hildegard’s life and times, with a peculiar eye towards her geographical landscape (more on that later). The second chapter then gives an overview of the content and structure of Scivias, Hildegard’s first major visionary treatise, along with a “general map” of the illustrations (pp. 24-25). Here, Salvadori articulates the main themes that will guide her rhetorical analysis of the images, including the essential choice between good and evil, as well as the work’s overarching Trinitarian framework and movement. In particular, she notes the structural features that turn the work into a “sapiential journey” that leads the reader through the story of salvation, at both cosmic and personal levels. Salvadori’s principal thesis is that the illustrations themselves both narrate the journey of the soul back to God and articulate the universal contact points between the triune God and the pilgrimage of his people.
Schematic of Scivias 1.3: The Firmament
(Salvadori, Hildegard von Bingen, p. 46)



This book’s most valuable feature is its second section (Chapter III), in which Salvadori lays out the “grammar” of the illustrations. It is essentially a catalogue of each of the manuscript’s 35 images, reproduced full-size, with explanatory text and thumbnails on the facing page annotated to explain every significant detail (see example at right). This is the first time that such a detailed catalogue has been made available in English, and it will serve particularly well to overcome the many erroneous interpretations that have arisen from the images’ inclusion in a variety of New Age materials, such as Matthew Fox’s popular but misleading work, Illuminations of Hildegard of Bingen.[2] Salvadori’s volume will (and must) utterly eclipse Fox’s as the standard go-to work in English.

In the final section of the book (Chapter IV), Salvadori presents the fruits of her years-long rumination upon the images, through an analysis of their “rhetoric.” Here, she moves from what they are saying to how and why they are saying it, in order to trace “the golden sapiential thread that passes through the figures/symbols.” Individual visual elements, including figures, shapes, frames, and colors, become links that traverse the narrative order of the illustrations.
Reconstruction of the Edifice of Salvation
(Salvadori, Hildegard von Bingen, p. 182)
This shifts the reader from a horizontal into a vertical perspective, making it “possible to look at the entire landscape, savoring its most intimate history, bearer of the revelation of the ‘ways,’ of the path of Wisdom that recounts the unfolding of the relationship between man and God” (p. 111). The manifold manifestations of the Trinity headline this exploration, followed by examinations of the connections between Earth and Heaven; the visual representations of creation and the cosmos; the contrast between light and dark; the manifestations of Mary, the Church, and their prefiguration in Synagogue; the path of salvation and human journey along it back to the heavenly Jerusalem; the “army of virtues” that accompanies this journey; and the heavenly choirs of praise that cap it off. Particularly compelling here is Salvadori’s three-dimensional reconstruction of the Edifice of Salvation in Part Three of Scivias (pp. 174-213). Her models allow Hildegard’s great city literally to leap off the page and give us an idea of how a visual thinker like her might have mentally manipulated the space, as well as imagined the personified Virtues acting within it.
Scivias 2.2: Trinity.
(Salvadori, Hildegard von Bingen, p. 61)

Salvadori is also acutely aware of the manuscript’s use of color as its own rhetorical language, which is an area that has often been neglected by art historical analyses of the images. For example, she analyzes background and border colors to persuasively articulate an overarching movement from the green of the earth, through the blue of the sky, and into the silver and gold of heavenly glory (pp. 132-137). Unfortunately, there is one crucial color scheme in the manuscript that she seems to have misread: the colors spun from the central vision of the Trinity (Scivias 2.2—see pp. 60-61 and 115). While accurately reading the sapphire blue as the Son, she reverses the colors that Hildegard uses to signify Father and Spirit: the Father is represented in gold, not silver; and the Spirit is represented in silver, not gold.[3] There are moments when the overriding pictorial logic almost forces Salvadori into the correct order, as for example when she identifies the grey or silver “pole” descending into Creation in Scivias 2.1 as the Spirit (p. 129). But Salvadori’s fertile mind would have been able to produce much richer fruit had she carried through with that observation and emphasized the vital spaces that Hildegard opens up for the movement of the Holy Spirit through the extensive use of silver in the manuscript.

Even if some of Salvadori’s speculations seem far-fetched (such as mapping precise groundplans of the city of Jerusalem onto Hildegard’s illustration of the Edifice of Salvation on p. 178), the mode in which she labors to think about the images and their rhetorical strategies is closely akin to Hildegard’s own “symbolist” approach. The hallmark of the Visionary Doctor’s way of thinking is her constant awareness of the connections between the concrete and individual, on the one hand; and the universal and divine, on the other. Salvadori’s intense meditation upon the images has attuned her to just those same connections. Similarly, her account of Hildegard’s life and times at the beginning of the book (pp. 11-21) may seem to stray some considerable distance from a standard history, because Salvadori looks not only to situate Hildegard in her physical landscape (dominated by the rivers that allowed for communication and travel), but also to connect that landscape into the cosmic and spiritual perspectives of salvation history. Again, her mapping of the Scivias illustration of the embodiment of the soul onto the physical geography of the Rhineland and southern Europe may be far-fetched (p. 19), but it is precisely the kind of imaginative mapping that Hildegard herself would have engaged in.

One of the most significant drawbacks of the volume are infelicities in its English translation (Salvadori wrote originally in Italian). Michela Pereira provided all of the Italian translations from Hildegard’s Latin text of Scivias, and the English translator has rendered those directly, often with an overriding preference for cognates (e.g. “orient” and “occident” instead of east and west). The editors would have been much better served referencing the standard English translation of Scivias by Mother Columba Hart and Jane Bishop (Paulist Press, 1990), and any reader of Salvadori’s book in English will want to have that volume at hand. One phrase where the preference for cognates is particularly detrimental is in the term, “candid cloud.” As Salvadori brilliantly elucidates (pp. 142-43), Hildegard uses the image of the cloud to connect and transform the figures of Eve, Mary, and Wisdom across the three parts of Scivias. Hildegard’s Latin phrase is candida nubes—but candida means “shining bright white,” and this crucial detail is lost with the cognate “candid.” (The English term derives its primary meaning from the toga candida, the bright-white toga worn by ancient Roman politicians to signify their supposed honesty and integrity, i.e. that they have nothing to hide.)

Salvadori plans a second volume for release next year, titled Scivias. A Journey beyond the Images, in which she intends to give a unified cosmological reconstruction of the illustrations’ visual universe. Hopefully, some of the translation missteps can be avoided in this future volume. If so, I eagerly await its application of the remainder of the liberal arts (dialectic and the quadrivium) to Salvadori’s ambitious interpretative project. Though they have worked entirely independently, there seems to be significant overlap between Salvadori’s work and the digital reconstructions pursued by Margot Fassler in the United States (see here). Both are giving Hildegard’s illustrations a new life for our time, grounded in Hildegard’s world but speaking to ours.

About the Author: Nathaniel M. Campbell is an adjunct instructor in the humanities at Union College (Kentucky, USA). His translation of Hildegard's The Book of Divine Works appeared from the Catholic University of America Press in 2018. He also co-edits this Society's online edition of Hildegard's Symphonia.
Footnotes

[1] Lieselotte Saurma-Jeltsch, Die Miniaturen im „Liber Scivias“ der Hildegard von Bingen: die Wucht der Vision und die Ordnung der Bilder (Wiesbaden: Reichert, 1998). 
[2] Fox’s work forces many bizarre and baseless interpretations onto the images, in large part because of the way he appropriates medieval texts and images to suit his own, twentieth-century viewpoint—see the nuanced analysis of Barbara Newman, “Romancing the Past: A Critical Look at Matthew Fox and the Medieval ‘Creation Mystics’,” Touchstone 5 (1992), pp. 5-10: accessible online here
[3] 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), 1-68, at pp. 37-40 and 46-61; accessible online here

Thursday, August 8, 2019

De patria etiam earum

Antiphon at Lauds (likely for Psalm 62[63]) for St. Ursula and Companions Back to Table of Contents
(D 168r, R 472ra) by Hildegard of Bingen
De patria etiam earum
et de aliis regionibus
viri religiosi
et sapientes ipsis adiuncti sunt,
qui eas in virginea custodia servabant
et qui eis in omnibus ministrabant.
And from their country,
and from other places, too,
men wise
and of religion joined up with them,
to keep them safe with virgin guard
and serve them in all things.
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

D mode
Range: G below final to E a ninth above
Setting: Syllabic and neumatic

This is a relatively straightforward short antiphon in D mode. All of the phrases are neatly outlined by the final. Hildegard begins the first four lines with a linked D to A motif. Readers will note that I have placed the et that falls between lines one and two of the transcription on line one in order to preserve the rhetorical repetition.

While we generally do not make recommendations for ficta in the transcriptions in their current/literal renditions of the source, it is worth noting the Bb on line four. Dendermonde does not sign the flat, but it appears in R. The presence of the flat creates a tritone, which is forbidden. The E might be an error, but it appears in both manuscripts. Singers would have two options - leave the E and sing B natural, or change E to D and sing Bb. While there is an F in the downward progression from the B, the melody continues in an upward direction to complete the singing of the word sapientes.

The differentia in R does not contain pitches.

Further Resources for Unde quocumque
  • 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

Unde quocumque

Antiphon at Lauds (likely for Psalm 99[100]) for St. Ursula and Companions Back to Table of Contents
(D 167v, R 472ra) by Hildegard of Bingen
Unde quocumque venientes
perrexerunt, velut cum gaudio
celestis paradisi suscepte sunt,
quia in religione morum
honorifice apparuerunt.
So no matter where they went,
as with the joy
of heaven’s paradise they were received,
for their religious life
was their honor.
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

A mode in Dendermonde
D and A modes in Riesenkodex
Range in Dendermonde: One pitch below the final to an octave above
Range in Riesenkodex: Depends on how one interprets the shift from opening D to concluding A.
Setting: syllabic and neumatic

Because the sources present two very different versions of this piece, we have created two transcriptions. In Dendermonde, the final is A, and there are some Bb’s, which could indicate a transposition - or not, as Hildegard’s use of A and C as modal finals is not straightforward. In Riesenkodex, the antiphon begins with D but ascends in the second line to encompass A as the final. Phrase breaks in the transcriptions are made after A and after E. Dendermonde includes two versions of the differentia.

Further Resources for Unde quocumque
  • 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

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Studium divinitatis

Antiphon at Lauds (likely for Psalm 92[93]) for St. Ursula and Companions Back to Table of Contents
(D 167v, R 471vb-472ra) by Hildegard of Bingen
Studium divinitatis
in laudibus excelsis osculum pacis
Ursule virgini
cum turba sua in omnibus populis dedit.
The zeal of divinity
gave with heaven’s praise the kiss of peace
to Ursula the virgin
and her brood among all peoples.
Latin collated from the transcription of Beverly Lomer and the edition of Barbara Newman; translation by Nathaniel M. Campbell.



The following recording by Anonymous 4 sets the antiphon together with Psalm 92) (video 36:28-41:05):





Transcription and Music Notes
by Beverly Lomer

E mode
Range: D below the final to C above
Setting: syllabic

In this short antiphon, Hildegard employs E as the primary grammatical marker. However, the outlining of phrases with the final is not as tightly organized as it is in other works. For example, the first phrase ends on G. We considered using studium divinitatis as the first phrase, with in laudibus beginning the second on B, the usual secondary tonal grammatical pitch in this mode. That solution, however, would result in other, more unusual notes as phrase punctuators. Thus, what we have is a mixture of E, G and A as punctuation devices.

Consequently, the phrasing in the transcription splits the word sense in some cases. Alternatively, the first two lines of the transcription can be understood as one single phrase, with E marking the beginning and the end on the word pacis. I split the phrase after the G on laudibus so that the next line could begin on A, an acceptable tonal marker for Hildegard in E mode.

Musically, the most appropriate first line could end with divinitatis, in which the next line could begin with B, also an accepted tonal marker, and continue on to conclude on pacis. This would make a long phrase to sing, and to make the transcription readable would have to be split into two lines at any rate. Similarly, the last two lines can be conceived as a single phrase, again a long one. In singing, depending on how the performers interpret the phrasing, pauses for breath, if needed, could be either very quick or more determinate in terms of punctuating the long phrases.

Further Resources for Studium divinitatis
  • 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

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Favus distillans

Responsory for St. Ursula and Companions, likely for Matins (D 167v, R 471va) Back to Table of Contents
by Hildegard of Bingen
R. Favus distillans
Ursula virgo fuit, que
Agnum Dei amplecti desideravit,
mel et lac sub lingua eius:

R. Quia
pomiferum hortum et
flores florum in
turba virginum
ad se collegit.

V. Unde in nobilissima aurora
gaude, filia Syon.

R. Quia
pomiferum hortum et
flores florum in
turba virginum
ad se collegit.

Gloria Patri et Filio
et Spiritui sancto.

R. Quia pomiferum hortum
et flores florum
in turba virginum
ad se collegit.
R. A dripping honeycomb
was the virgin Ursula,
who yearned to embrace the Lamb of God,
the honey and milk beneath her tongue:

R. Because
a garden bearing fruits,
the flowers’ blooms,
she gathered round,
a virgins’ brood.

V. So in the noblest dawn
rejoice, O daughter of Zion!

R. Because
a garden bearing fruits,
the flowers’ blooms,
she gathered round,
a virgins’ brood.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit.

R. For a garden bearing fruits,
the flowers’ blooms,
she gathered round,
a virgins’ brood.
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 features images gleaned from the Song of Songs 4:11-13:
Favus distillans labia tua, sponsa; mel et lac sub lingua tua: et odor vestimentorum tuorum sicut odor thuris. Hortus conclusus soror mea, sponsa, hortus conclusus, fons signatus. Emissiones tuae paradisus malorum punicorum, cum pomorum fructibus. Thy lips, my spouse, are as a dropping honeycomb, honey and milk are under thy tongue; and the smell of thy garments, as the smell of frankincense. My sister, my spouse, is a garden enclosed, a garden enclosed, a fountain sealed up. Thy plants are a paradise of pomegranates with the fruits of the orchard.
This mode is surprisingly rare in Hildegard’s works, given its rich contemporary elaboration in Cistercian circles (e.g. St. Bernard of Clairvaux). The relative lack of bridal mysticism in her oeuvre (though see O dulcissime amator) may in fact reveal a more traditional grounding in the liturgical uses of the Song of Songs, whose verses had been adapted into the antiphons and responsories for Marian feasts. Song of Songs 4:11 (Favus distillans etc.) was, for example, commonly used as an antiphon for the Assumption (August 15). As with O rubor sanguinis, this responsory also echoes several of Hildegard’s own compositions for the Virgin. In particular, the Son’s dawn light gleaming amid the virginal flower recalls Hodie aperuit nobis and strophe 6a of O virga ac diadema.

The final strophe of that sequence likewise shows us that both the Virgin Mary and the virgin Ursula have a mission to “collect” or “gather” faithful followers for Christ. This is, of course, also the mission of the Virgin Mother Church, who becomes the explicit figure for Ursula and her companions in the sequence, O Ecclesia. Ursula’s “virgins’ brood” (turba virginum) is thus also linked with the band of apostles (apostolorum turba) in O lucidissima. Because this responsory would have been sung at Matins, it sets the stage for the narrative series of eight antiphons Hildegard composed for Lauds (Symphonia 63), to highlight the evangelizing element of their mission.

Transcription and Music Notes
by Beverly Lomer

A mode
Range: E below the final to A an octave above the final
Setting: neumatic with several longer melismas

In this piece, Hildegard begins and ends most phrases with the final. Alternatively, some conclude on E or G, and the repetendum, curiously, begins on G. The salutation also departs from Hildegard’s typical practice of beginning and ending on the final, with the last note on favus distillans being E. It is possible to consider that opening phrase as more of a prelude than a salutation, with the real address being the extended phrase: Ursula virgo fuit que Agnum Dei amplecti desideravit. Moreover, the first return to the final comes on the conjunction que, with Agnum beginning the next phrase with a three-note span to the fifth. The musical syntax thus departs from the textual syntax, in which the conjunction que should begin the subordinate clause. As per our project principles, we allow the musical grammar to guide our textual editing. In this case, the result is to emphasize the Agnum Dei, the Lamb of God.

Beginning with line 4 on page 1 of the transcription and interrupted by the setting of quia, and then continuing onto page 2, there are 6 phrases that open with the leap from A to E. Repeated gestures on openings are typical of Hildegard, but this one is notable for so many in a row. The conjunction et (and) at the end of the last line on page one is set to E and is placed with the phrase pomiferum hortum rather than at the beginning of the next line. While the tendency in modern English might be to group “and” with the second clause, in Latin, word order is less significant – and here the music really seems to dictate the phrasing we have chosen. Otherwise the rhetorical repetition is diluted, as is the intended emphasis on key words.

There are inconsistencies in the notes assigned to the first word of the repetendum, quia. I have transcribed them literally as they appear in each manuscript, which gives only this word as the indicator for the response. The R version of this that appears on page 1, which is later also repeated in D, is probably the one intended.

The first phrase in the verse that follows the first repeat can be conceived either as Unde in nobilissima or Unde nobilissima aurora. Because aurora begins on E and is therefore not outlined by the final, the second interpretation makes sense. I did not add a tick barline to the transcription here but rather leave it to singers to decide how they like it.

One last thing: this transcription was done a number of years before the start of this project and some of the conventions that I used then have been changed. In particular, technological hurdles have hindered the replacement of ossia staves with smaller notations of manuscript differences.

Further Resources for Favus distillans
  • Hildegard of Bingen, Symphonia, ed. Barbara Newman (Cornell Univ. Press, 1988 / 1998), pp. 234 and 309.
  • 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. “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

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

O rubor sanguinis

Antiphon in evangelio, likely for the Magnificat at First Vespers for St. UrsulaBack to Table of Contents
and the 11,000 Virgin-Martyrs of Cologne (D 167r, R 471vb), by Hildegard of Bingen
O rubor sanguinis,
qui de excelso illo fluxisti
quod divinitas tetigit: tu flos es
quem hyems de flatu serpentis
numquam lesit.
O bloody red
that flowed from up that height
divinity has touched: a bloom you are
that winter with the serpent’s blast
has never marred.
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 starkly imagistic antiphon makes no specific reference to the story of St. Ursula and her companions. Instead, it describes their identities as virgin martyrs with a web of symbolic connections that mark it as a peculiarly Hildegardian piece. The specific redness (rubor) of the martyr’s blood flowing into flower recalls the redolent rosebuds of her antiphon for martyrs from the Scivias symphony, Vos flores rosarum. But it is the additional, virginal dimensions that give this antiphon its unique spin. Fittingly for an antiphon paired with the Magnificat, this piece’s bloom echoes clearly that of the Virgin Mary, especially from the short antiphon Hodie aperuit nobis, where her flower blooms to open the gate “choked” (suffocavit) by the serpent. In the antiphon above, Hildegard keeps the metaphor a little bit more contained by imbuing the serpent’s hiss with the cold, withering winter wind. But that hiss will still be choked (suffocatum est) by the “pearls” of Ursula and her companions—their virginal bodies—in the last verse of the sequence, O Ecclesia.

Echoes and reflections of Hildegard’s pieces to the Virgin suffuse many of the pieces in her Office for St. Ursula, to the point where the individual early medieval noblewoman named Ursula—if she ever even existed—is subsumed beneath the symbolic waves of her blood (to invoke another image from Vos flores rosarum). In both her virginity and her martyrdom, she becomes so utterly identified with, at turns, Mary, the Church, and Christ, that Ursula herself disappears behind the mask of one caught up in the drama of salvation.

One of the roles she plays in that drama, hinted at through verbal echo alone in this antiphon, is is that of prophetic witness. The “height [that] divinity has touched” (de excelso…quod divinitas tetigit) is, in its clearest signification, the Father’s heart from which the Word sprang forth, first creating and then incarnate, as described in the Marian antiphon, O splendidissima gemma. But the phrase also echoes “the mysteries of the mountain that touched heaven” (mistica montis qui celum tetigit) from the antiphon for the prophets and patriarchs, O spectabiles viri. The opening verses of Hildegard’s hymn for the Office of St. Ursula, Cum vox sanguinis, make the connection more explicit, for there the voice of Ursula’s blood resounds in heaven, and “ancient prophecy” (antiqua prophetia) responds to accept its drenching sacred touch. Her blood is revelatory.

The pathway along which Ursula is sublimated into a universal, unveiling archetype in salvation history is here the pathway along which her blood’s redness flows all the way up to divinity’s height. But it is also a pathway that flows back down, to allow other individual actors to be joined into her archetype. For Hildegard, Ursula’s power as a virgin-martyr is exemplary, and as such, one that can be shared. It is then no surprise to notice that Ursula’s power is often Hildegard’s own—as a virgin flower, she withstands the wintry blasts of the devil’s devices, in order that her voice too might proclaim the divinity’s mysteries.

Transcription and Music Notes
by Beverly Lomer

D mode
Range: C below the final to F and octave and a third above
Setting: syllabic with one long melisma

This short piece is fairly straightforward. Hildegard employs both the modal final and A, the secondary significant tone in this mode, as grammatical markers. She begins the last phrase on D, but numquam. is outlined by B and A. Differences between the sources are minimal.

Further Resources for O rubor sanguinis
  • Hildegard of Bingen, Symphonia, ed. Barbara Newman (Cornell Univ. Press, 1988 / 1998), pp. 232 and 309.
  • 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. “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.
  • 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, at 177, 180, and 182.
  • 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

Spiritui sancto

Responsory at First Vespers for St. Ursula and the 11,000 Virgin-Martyrs of Cologne (D 167r, R 471v)
by Hildegard of BingenBack to Table of Contents
R. Spiritui sancto
honor sit, qui in mente Ursule
virginis virginalem turbam
velut columbas collegit.
Unde ipsa patriam suam sicut Abraham reliquit.

R. Et etiam propter amplexionem Agni
desponsationem viri sibi
abstraxit.

V. Nam iste castissimus et aureus exercitus
in virgineo crine mare transivit.
O quis umquam talia audivit?

R. Et etiam propter amplexionem Agni
desponsationem viri sibi
abstraxit.

Gloria Patri et Filio
et Spiritui sancto.

R. Et etiam propter amplexionem Agni
desponsationem viri sibi
abstraxit.
R. Honor to the Holy Spirit,
who in the Virgin Ursula’s mind
a virginal brood has gathered
like doves.
So too she’s left her homeland like another Abraham.

R. And to embrace the Lamb,
a husband’s troth
she has cast off.

V. For that golden troop so chaste
has crossed the sea with virgin tresses.
O who has ever heard of such a thing?

R. And to embrace the Lamb,
a husband’s troth
she has cast off.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit.

R. And to embrace the Lamb,
a husband’s troth
she has cast off.
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

As this responsory tracks Ursula’s virginal mission, we glimpse some of the ways in which Hildegard configured her early medieval model in order to track her own life’s journey. The repetendum affirms the central choice that defines the virgin’s office: the rejection of a human husband in exchange for betrothal to Christ (cf. verse 6 of O dulcissime amator). But for Ursula, the rejection of her arranged marriage was only the beginning of an inspired plan to bear witness to the glory of her true Bridegroom—a witness paid in blood in several other pieces of this Office. Hildegard, too, understood the community of virgins gathered around her as a prophetic mission inspired by the Spirit and the Living Light. Moreover, in the verse, she allusively parallels her choice to move her community from the Disibodenberg to the Rupertsberg with Ursula and her companions’ sea-borne pilgrimage from Britain to Rome. When in her last years Hildegard recalled the difficulties that accompanied that move, she explicitly compared herself to Moses leading the children of Israel across the Red Sea.[1] Furthermore, as Newman notes (Symphonia, p. 308), the “virgin tresses” (in virgineo crine) may perhaps refer to the distinctive way Hildegard’s nuns wore their hair on high feast days, like that of St. Ursula (see the Commetary to O nobilissima viriditas).

Yet alongside the Exodus allusion of the “golden army” crossing the sea, Hildegard explicitly names Abraham as the model for Ursula’s pilgrimage. This is because Abraham serves also as a model of the virgin’s renunciation of the lusts of the flesh in several of Hildegard’s later writings. In another autobiographical passage collected into her Vita, she notes, “Abraham, however, was given increase, because, being obedient to God, he strove with all his might against the clamourings of the flesh.”[2] Likewise, she draws a typological connection between circumcision (which she says represents “the spiritual life”) and Christ’s virginal humanity in the Liber Divinorum Operum 3.2.8: “For as the dawn comes before the sun, so in the sign of circumcision, in which he ground away lust, Abraham preceded the Son of God’s humanity.”[3] These late parallels bolster William Flynn’s argument for dating Hildegard’s office for St. Ursula to the last decade of her life.[4] Finally, in the opening verse of its great hymn, Cum vox sanguinis, Hildegard’s invokes Abraham as a prophet-visionary of the Trinity (through the Three Visitors at the Oak of Mamre in Genesis 18), among a whole line of Old Testament types that merge Ursula’s martyrdom with Christ’s sacrifice and the heavenly banquet.

Transcription and Music Notes
by Beverly Lomer

A mode
Range: E below the final to A an octave above
Setting: primarily neumatic with several melismas

Spiritui sancto opens with the salutation, while the second phrase begins with a similar melody and then diverges, reaching to the high A on the word, mente (“mind”). This same opening device appears throughout.

Most of the phrases are outlined by the modal final, A. Many of the phrases are quite long, so one would want to consider perhaps a tempo that would enable them to be sung on one breath. As is our practice, some are broken into two lines so as not to crowd the score, and a tick barline has been inserted to mark the end of the phrase. Whenever possible for long phrases, we try to break the line on E, which is the second most significant tone in the mode.

Most of the phrasing is fairly regular in this piece, though there is one interesting place in the verse where the musical grammar diverges from the textual syntax. On page 3 of the transcription, it makes sense to group o quis umquam talia audivit together (line 2). Musically, however, the phrase that begins on the first line should end, by the way Hildegard uses the tonal markers here, after “o” on line 2. I have inserted a tick barline as a guide.

The piece employs A as the final, but it is likely transposed, given the number of B flats that are signed in the sources. As usual, we only place flats where they are indicated in the sources, and so singers will need to make interpretive decisions. Given the way the flats are deployed differently in the manuscripts, it would appear that certain flats are intended to be continued until the end of a word or phrase. The same could apply to repeated melodic segments in which a flat was signed earlier.

Further Resources for Spiritui sancto
  • Hildegard of Bingen, Symphonia, ed. Barbara Newman (Cornell Univ. Press, 1988 / 1998), pp. 230 and 307-308.
  • 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. “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

Footnotes

[1] Vita S. Hildegardis 2.5, trans. Anna Silvas in Hildegard & Jutta: The Biographical Sources (Brepols, 1998 / Pennsylvania State University Press, 1999), pp. 164-65. 
[2] Vita S. Hildegardis 2.14, trans. Silvas, p. 176. 
[3] Hildegard of Bingen, The Book of Divine Works, trans. Nathaniel M. Campbell (Catholic University of America Press, 2018), p. 367; Liber diuinorum operum, ed. A. Derolez and P. Dronke (Brepols, 1996), p. 362. See also 3.4.10, trans. Campbell, p. 410; Latin text, p. 400. 
[4] William Flynn, “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.