Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Cum vox sanguinis Ursule

Hymn for St. Ursula and Companions (D 169r-170r, R 477vb-478ra) Back to Table of Contents
by Hildegard of Bingen
1. Cum vox sanguinis Ursule
et innocentis turbe eius
ante thronum Dei sonuit,
antiqua prophetia venit per radicem Mambre
in vera ostensione Trinitatis
et dixit:

2. Iste sanguis nos tangit,
nunc omnes gaudeamus.

3. Et postea venit
congregatio Agni,
per arietem in spinis pendentem, et dixit:

4. Laus sit in Ierusalem
per ruborem huius sanguinis.

5. Deinde venit sacrificium vituli
quod vetus lex ostendebat,
sacrificium laudis
circumamicta varietate, et que faciem Dei
Moysi obnubilabat, dorsum illi ostendens.

6. Hoc sunt sacerdotes
qui per linguas suas
Deum ostendunt et perfecte eum videre non possunt.

7. Et dixerunt: O nobilissima turba, virgo ista
que in terris Ursula vocatur in summis Columba
nominatur, quia innocentem turbam ad se collegit.


8. O Ecclesia, tu es
laudabilis in ista turba.

9, Turba magna, quam incombustus rubus
(quem Moyses viderat) significat,
et quam Deus in prima radice plantaverat
in homine quem de limo formaverat,
ut sine commixtione viri viveret,
cum clarissima voce clamavit
in purissimo auro, thopazio,
et saphiro circumamicta in auro.

10. Nunc gaudeant omnes celi
et omnes populi cum illis ornentur.
Amen.
1. When the voice of Ursula’s blood
and of her innocent brood
resounded ‘fore God’s throne,
the ancient prophecy came forth by Mamre’s root—
a true disclosing of the Trinity—
and spoke:

2. “This blood is touching us—
now let us all rejoice!”

3. And next came forth
the congregation of the Lamb—
by the ram caught in the thorns—and spoke:

4. “Praise in Jerusalem
because of this blood’s scarlet gleam!”

5. Then came the sacrificial calf
the ancient Law revealed—
a sacrifice of praise—
the Law, girded with many colors, hid God’s face
from Moses and revealed his back.

6. This means the priests
who by their tongues
reveal God even though they cannot see him perfectly.

7. They spoke: “O noblest brood, this Virgin’s name
on earth was ‘Ursula’—the little bear—
but now on high she’s called ‘Columba’—dove—
because she gathered round her innocent brood.”

8. O Church, your praise
is with this brood!

9. Great brood—the burning bush
that Moses saw, its sign;
and God had planted it within the primal root
in Man he’d made from mud,
to live without man’s commingling—
with clearest voice they cried
in purest gold and topaz,
and sapphire set in gold.

10. Now let all the heavens rejoice,
and all the peoples be adorned with them!
Amen.
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
Range: D below the final to A an octave above
Setting: primarily syllabic

In this hymn, Hildegard applies a mixture of tonal punctuations. While A is the predominant tonal demarcator, and a number of phrases open with the leap from A to the E above, she also uses E - a standard alternative. Less usual are the phrases that open with C, G, and F. Phrase lengths are also quite uneven (not atypical for this form), and thus performers might use their own discretion about combining some of the smaller units. The only caution would be to not place the A-to-E interval mid phrase, as it is clearly an opening gesture.

There are several minor differences between the sources and two more extensive ones, which are represented by ossia staves.

Further Resources for Cum vox sangunis Ursule
  • Hildegard of Bingen, Symphonia, ed. Barbara Newman (Cornell Univ. Press, 1988 / 1998), pp. 244-46 and 312-14.
  • 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 T. “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 T. “Ductus figuratus et subtilis: Rhetorical interventions for women in two twelfth-century liturgies.” Cambridge Studies in Medieval Literature 78.1 (2010): 250-280, at pp. 264-275.
  • 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

Monday, April 18, 2022

O Ecclesia

Sequence for St. Ursula and Companions (D 168v-169r, R 477rb-vb) Back to Table of Contents
by Hildegard of Bingen
1a. O Ecclesia,
oculi tui similes saphiro sunt,
et aures tue monti Bethel,
et nasus tuus est sicut mons mirre et thuris,
et os tuum quasi sonus aquarum multarum.

1b. In visione vere fidei
Ursula Filium Dei amavit
et virum cum hoc seculo reliquit
et in solem aspexit
atque pulcherrimum iuvenem vocavit, dicens:

2. In multo desiderio desideravi ad te venire
et in celestibus nuptiis tecum sedere,
per alienam viam ad te currens
velut nubes que in purissimo aere currit similis saphiro.

3a. Et postquam Ursula sic dixerat, rumor iste
per omnes populos exiit.

3b. Et dixerunt: Innocentia puellaris ignorantie
nescit quid dicit.

4a. Et ceperunt ludere cum illa
in magna symphonia,
usque dum ignea sarcina
super eam cecidit.

4b. Unde omnes cognoscebant
quia contemptus mundi est sicut mons Bethel.

5. Et cognoverunt etiam
suavissimum odorem mirre et thuris,
quoniam contemptus mundi
super omnia ascendit.

6a. Tunc diabolus membra sua invasit,
que nobilissimos mores in corporibus istis occiderunt.

6b. Et hoc in alta voce omnia elementa audierunt
et ante thronum Dei dixerunt:

7a. Wach! rubicundus sanguis innocentis agni
in desponsatione sua effusus est.

7b. Hoc audiant omnes celi
et in summa symphonia laudent Agnum Dei,
quia guttur serpentis antiqui
in istis margaritis
materie Verbi Dei suffocatum est.
1a. O Church!
Like sapphire are your eyes,
Mt. Bethel are your ears,
your nose a mount of myrrh and frankincense,
your mouth the sound of many waters.

1b. In true faith’s vision
did Ursula with God’s Son fall in love—
a husband with the world did she abandon,
to gaze instead upon the sun
and call upon the Fairest Youth to say:

2a. “With deep desire have I desired to come to you,
to sit with you at heaven’s marriage feast—
I’m racing by a different way to you,
like a sapphire cloud that races ‘cross the clearest sky.”

3a. When Ursula had made this declaration,
report of it went out through all the people.

3b. And they declared, “The innocence of girlish ignorance
knows not of what it speaks.”

4a. And they began in concert to
make fun of her—
until the fiery weight
fell on her shoulders.

4b. For then they recognized
that such contempt for the world is as Mt. Bethel.

5. They also recognized
the sweetest secent of myrrh and frankincense,
for contempt for the world
mounts over all.

6a. But then the devil seized their limbs,
to slay the virgins’ noblest bearings with their bodies.

6b. And this with piercing cry heard all the elements
and ‘fore God’s throne declared:

7a. Ach! The scarlet blood of the innocent Lamb
to pledge his troth is shed.

7b. And all the heavens hear this
and praise the Lamb of God in symphony supreme,
for the ancient serpent’s throat
is choked upon these pearls
compiled from the Word of God.
Latin collated from the transcription of Beverly Lomer and the edition of Barbara Newman; translation by Nathaniel M. Campbell.





A Note on the Text
by Nathaniel M. Campbell

Our edition of the text departs from Newman’s by introducing the paired strophes that are traditional features of the sequence. Hildegard never composed any regular sequences, in which each verse pair uses the same melodic line. But within the irregular form of her sequences, paired strophes do usually share some musical parallels (cf. O ignis Spiritus paracliti). In this sequence, these repeated motives usually come at the opening of each verse pair. The beginning of each verse is, moreover, marked in the manuscripts with a rubricated initial, and we have followed those divisions. Newman’s edition missed the initial that marks Et dixerunt (verse 3b above) as its own verse, and thus she combines verses 3a and 3b together (verse 4 in her edition).

Verses 2 and 5 are exceptions to the standard form, as the verses as marked in the manuscripts are musical orphans. However, both contain internal sets of repeated motives that could be understood as fulfilling the sequence form. In Verse 2, the melody of the final line (velut nubes que in purissimo aere currit similis saphiro) makes variations on the opening line (In multo desiderio desideravi ad te venire). The melodic parallels are less thorough in Verse 5, but the use of the common leap of a fifth (A-E) at the opening of the verse and then again with quoniam would suggest a possible point for construing a strophic subdivision.

Transcription and Music Notes
by Beverly Lomer

Mode: A
Range: E below the final to C an octave and a third above
Setting: primarily syllabic

Musically, this lone sequence is fairly straightforward. The primary tones used for punctuation/phrase delineation are A and E. The interval A to E is commonly used to open phrases.

There are quite a few discrepancies between the sources, and so in order to make reading easier, I have inserted a number of ossia staves rather than notes above the lines. As is our custom, the only capital letters included in the text of the transcription are those that also appear in the manuscripts; no editorial ficta have been added.

It would likely be useful for singers to compare the sources regarding the use of Bb so as to better inform their decisions as to where to add Bb.

Further Resources for O Ecclesia
  • Hildegard of Bingen, Symphonia, ed. Barbara Newman (Cornell Univ. Press, 1988 / 1998), pp. 238-244 and 312-314.
  • 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.
  • Martin, J., and G. Hair. “O Ecclesia: the Text and Music of Hildegard of Bingen's Sequence for St. Ursula.” Tjurunga: an Australasian Benedictine Review 30 (1986), 3–62.
  • 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 22, 2021

Introduction to the Lauds Antiphons for St. Ursula

by Nathaniel M. Campbell

Hildegard composed an elaborate series of eight antiphons for use in an expanded edition of the office of Lauds for the feast of St. Ursula and the 11,000 virgin-martyrs of Cologne. This is the largest single office that she composed and indicates the special value that she placed on developing the feast of St. Ursula into an important celebration affirming the life and mission of the religious women (virgins) of her monastery.

Reconstructed Order for the Office

The Table of Contents for our edition of Hildegard’s Symphonia follows the ordering found in the manuscripts and given in the modern editions. However, for reading or performance order, we highly recommend the reconstruction proposed by musicologist William Flynn, which makes the most sense out of the difficulties of the manuscript presentation. The following table summarizes this suggested order of service according to the likely usage of Hildegard’s time and place, showing which psalm or scriptural canticle would have been paired with each antiphon; as well as the corresponding order in each of the two manuscripts and in Barbara Newman’s edition of the Symphonia:
Antiphon Psalm / Canticle Dendermonde Riesencodex Newman
1. Studium divinitatis Ps 92(93) 1 (167v) 1 (471vb) 1
2. Unde quocumque Ps 99(100) (secular cursus) or Ps 117(118) (monastic cursus) 2 (167v) 2 (472ra) 2
3. De patria etiam earum Ps 62(63) 3 (168r) 3 (472ra) 3
4. Deus enim in prima muliere presignavit Benedicite (Dn 3:57-88, 56) 4 (168r) 4 (472ra) 4
5. Aer enim volat Ps 148 5 (168r) 5 (472ra) 5
6. Deus enim rorem in illas misit Ps 149 7 (168r) 7 (472rb) 7
7. Sed diabolus Ps 150 8 (168r-v) 8 (472rb) 8
8. Et ideo puelle iste Gospel: Benedictus
(Lk 1:68–79)
6 (168r) 6 (472ra) 6
A typical Lauds office would normally only have five antiphons for the psalmody (which includes the canticle Benedicite taken from the expanded Septuagint / Vulgate text of the book of Daniel), plus an antiphon for the Benedictus, the Canticle of Zechariah from the Gospel of Luke. But Hildegard has composed a tightly woven series of eight antiphons that tell a coherent narrative, indicating that they should all go together in a single office. Flynn suggests that Hildegard invoked an alternative psalmody known to have been used sometimes in twelfth-century monastic communities, which expands the final psalm unit of Lauds (a combined singing of Pss 148-150) into its three individual psalms, each with its own antiphon. Furthermore, he believes it likely that, because the community of Augustinian nuns in Cologne dedicated specifically to the cult of St. Ursula followed what is known as a secular rather than monastic usage (cursus) for the divine office, Hildegard may have borrowed some slight modifications from the secular cursus in determining the psalms to be sung for festal Lauds.

The manuscript ordering for the antiphons may further be designed to allow for easy navigation when recycling a subset of them for Second Vespers, sung at the end of the day that would open with the Lauds office. A common monastic practice for Second Vespers of major feasts was to reuse the first, second, third, and fifth antiphons from Lauds. The placement of the Gospel antiphon after the fifth antiphon, rather than at the end of the series, helps demarcate this subset. Finally, this reconstruction allows the triumph of the Gospel antiphon, Et ideo puelle iste, to have the last word, rather than the invidiousness of Sed diabolus. In this way, the narrative produced by the antiphon series coheres with Hildegard’s overall ideas about the virginal mission shared between St. Ursula’s ancient band and her own monastery.

References
  • 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.
  • Hildegard of Bingen, Symphonia, ed. Barbara Newman (Cornell Univ. Press, 1988 / 1998), pp. 236 and 309-11.

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-v, 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
untouched.
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 Et ideo puelle iste

Et ideo puelle iste

Antiphon in evangelio (likely for the Benedictus at Lauds) for St. Ursula Back to Table of Contents
and Companions (D 168r, R 472rb) by Hildegard of Bingen
Et ideo
puelle iste per summum virum
sustentabantur,
vexillate
in regali prole
virginee nature.
And so,
these girls were by the Supreme Man
sustained,
to fly their flag
with virgin nature’s
Royal Son.
Latin collated from the transcription of Beverly Lomer and the edition of Barbara Newman; translation by Nathaniel M. Campbell.





A Note on Liturgical Usage

The rubric for this antiphon in the manuscripts (in evangelio) indicates that it accompanies the Benedictus, or the Canticle of Zechariah from the Gospel of Luke (1:68–79). Because that Canticle would the final piece of psalmody in the Lauds service, this antiphon should properly come at the end of the sequence that Hildegard composed for the Office.

Further Resources for Et ideo puelle iste
  • 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

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Hildegard of Bingen on Saturn and Jupiter

Detail of the Celestial Bodies, from
The Book of Divine Works, 1.2
(Biblioteca Statale di Lucca, MS 1942, fol. 9r)
In honor of the celestial conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter, we present Hildegard of Bingen’s description of the two planets from her cosmological vision in The Book of Divine Works. Saturn is “the highest and first celestial body,” and Jupiter is the second in the circle of pure ether, illustrated in the Lucca manuscript as the top two stars in the band of red flames (the sun is the large star in the band of black fire just below):
And from the middle of the sign of the highest and first celestial body that is marked out above the head of that image, there go out certain rays, one of which descends to the sign of the sun. This signifies that rays of strength go forth from the strength of this first celestial body, which appears first in the east because it is from there that the daylight comes forth. One of these rays is directed to the sun, succoring and tempering its course so that it does not discharge its fire beyond measure. Furthermore, one beams to the right foot of the crab’s head that proceeds from the leopard’s head. For as this celestial body arises from the part opposite that wind, it emits its ray to strengthen the latter’s egress as it shifts forwards and back and proceeds from the principal east wind to which it is collateral; and it holds it back with its stability, lest it proceed further than God has allowed it. Finally, one extends to the right horn of the stag’s head that comes from the same leopard’s head. For another ray comes from that part of this celestial body to oppose the strength of this wind that comes out there from the principal wind, restraining its shocks so that it emits its blasts according to the correct measure of fitting necessity, like a man who restrains the arms of his enemy, to keep him from harming either himself or others. Thus one part of creation is restrained by another part of creation, and likewise each is sustained by the other.

From the middle of the sign of the second celestial body a certain ray bends down as if to the sign of the sun, for this celestial body reveals its power when it touches the sun with its ray, soothing it to be mild. And another goes forth to the lamb’s head that comes from the sign of the lion’s head. For from its strong part, it extends a ray of its brilliance to the beginning of the collateral wind that signifies gentleness and proceeds from the major wind of the southern region. It holds onto that wind, so that rather than transforming its mildness to ferocity, it continues in its course without any aggressiveness. Another is directed to the aforesaid line that stretches in the firmament from the beginning of the eastern part of the wheel as if to the end of its western part and facing its northern region, at a spot above where the lamb’s head that goes out from the sign of the bear’s head is placed. This signifies that a ray comes from the firm course of that brilliance and is led to the course of another collateral wind that goes out from the major north wind. It resists that wind with its moderation, so that it emits its blasts with equal measure.

     —The Book of Divine Works 1.2.32 (pp. 84-85)
Hildegard also allegorizes these planets and their celestial rays, because for her, all of creation has a moral meaning, encouraging and strengthening us to grow in the virtues:
Moreover, from the middle of the sign of the highest and first celestial body that appears marked out above the head of that image, there go out certain rays, one of which descends to the sign of the sun. This is because the virtues spring from the choicest and outstanding gift of the spirit of wisdom, which surpasses the entire height of human understanding. From them, a holy breathing forth descends to the sign of the sun—to the spirit of fortitude—to which it allies itself, so that the fortitude of holiness might enter wisely into the faithful, lest they foolishly presume to undertake a task they cannot complete. But one beams to the right foot of the crab’s head that proceeds from the leopard’s head. This shows that in the salvation of souls, the breathing forth of the spirit of wisdom, which is made manifest for the correct advance of the trust that rises up from the fear of the Lord, spreads itself out and fortifies that trust, so that, with the fear of the Lord, it might have confidence in God and not think his mercy worthless or for naught. Furthermore, one stretches itself to the right horn of the stag’s head that comes from the same leopard’s head; for in chastisement, the breathing forth of rightness reveals itself to the fortitude of faith that also arises from the fear of the Lord. It stretches itself out and leads that fortitude to the right path, so that it turns itself away from the devil’s devices while unceasingly chastising humankind for their ignorance of the truth.

From the middle of the sign of the second celestial body a certain ray bends down as if to the sign of the sun. This signifies that an outpouring of intelligence from the abundant fullness of the spirit of understanding advances also towards the spirit of fortitude. This also shows that each faithful person understands acutely that he ought with a strong mind to serve his Creator and to renounce the devil. And another goes forth to the lamb’s head that comes from the sign of the lion’s head. For as a person walks successfully to his Creator, the breathing forth from the spirit of understanding extends towards the patience that proceeds from the judgment of God. This shows that, when a person imitates patience, he ought to bear both prosperity and tribulation with equanimity. And another is directed to the aforesaid line that stretches in the firmament from the beginning of the eastern part of the wheel as if to the end of its western part and facing its northern region, at a spot above where the lamb’s head that goes out from the sign of the bear’s head is placed. For as each faithful person shuns what is contrary to his soul, the breathing forth from the spirit of understanding comes on the other side to the rightness of justice, which extends from the origin of good deeds that persist under God’s power all the way to their fulfillment. With the assistance from above of the patience produced from bodily distress, it separates the devil’s tricks from just works, and admonishes a person that, when the judgment of God chastises him, he ought to endure that chastisement patiently, lest he be stricken even more sharply.

     —The Book of Divine Works 1.2.34 (pp. 91-92)

Friday, December 11, 2020

Nunc gaudeant

Votive Antiphon for the Dedication of a Church (D 170r-v, R 472va)Back to Table of Contents
by Hildegard of Bingen
Nunc gaudeant materna viscera
Ecclesie,
quia in superna
simphonia filii eius
in sinum suum collocati sunt.
Unde, o turpissime
serpens, confusus es, quoniam
quos tua estimatio in visceribus
suis habuit
nunc fulgent in sanguine Filii Dei,
et ideo laus tibi sit, Rex altissime.
Alleluia.
Now let the Church’s mother womb
rejoice!
For in the heavens’
symphony her children
are gathered to her bosom.
O vile snake,
you are confounded,
for those your hollow reckoning had thought
it clutched within its guts
now sparkle in the blood of God’s Son—
praise be to you, the King most high!
Alleluia!
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 antiphon completes the arc of its pair in the collection, O virgo Ecclesia, by affirming the resolution to the crisis described in the previous piece. This connection between the two antiphons is both thematic and musical. While O virgo Ecclesia is written with lower pitches in E mode, this C mode antiphon ranges much higher, as befits the thematic restoration of the celestial harmony. Meanwhile, the two antiphons deploy very similar melodic lines (adjusted for their respective modes) to match their shared textual elements: the two phrases Sed o quam preciosus est sanguis Salvatoris, / qui in vexillo regis (p. 1, line 8-p.2, line 1 in O virgo Ecclesia) each outline a similar melody followed by nunc fulgent in sanguine Filii Dei in the antiphon above (p. 2, line 3). Thematically, the resolution here rests on the same two key elements: the restoration of the Church’s children within the heavenly symphony, and their gleaming salvation from the Devil’s clutches by the blood of Christ. As with O virgo Ecclesia, these elements respond both to Hildegard’s cosmic vision of salvation and to the specific historical context that we can conjecture for this pair of antiphons.

Barbara Newman’s suggestion that Hildegard is writing in veiled response to Arnold of Brescia’s revolt helps to explain several elements of this antiphon (see Symphonia, p. 315). At the climax of his response to Arnold’s revolt, Pope Adrian IV put the city of Rome under interdict during Holy Week of 1155. This means that as the Church remembered the drama of Christ’s death and resurrection, the music that would usually accompany her most elaborate liturgies was silenced. This antiphon’s restoration of the heavenly symphony alludes to the resolution of the crisis, when the interdict was lifted. Meanwhile, the concluding “Alleluia!” of the antiphon alludes to the specific timing of that resolution, at Easter.

Yet the antiphon works equally well without reference to a specific historical circumstance, because for Hildegard, the restoration of celestial music is a hallmark of Christ’s restoration of life, a synaesthetic collaboration of light and sound and Word:
And you see a serene Man coming forth from this radiant dawn, Who pours out His brightness into the darkness; and it drives Him back with great force, so that He pours out the redness of blood and whiteness of pallor into it, and strikes the darkness such a strong blow that the person who is lying in it is touched by Him, takes on a shining appearance, and walks out of it upright. This is the Word of God, imperishably incarnate in the purity of unstained virginity and born without pain, and yet not separated from the Father. How? While the Son of God was being born in the world from a mother, He was still in Heaven in the Father; and at this the angels suddenly trembled and sang the sweetest praises of rejoicing. And, living in the world without stain of sin, He sent out into the darkness of unbelief His clear and blessed teachings and salvation; but, rejected by the unbelieving people and led to His passion, 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. 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[1]
As Hildegard explained when responding to the interdict placed on her own monastery, this restoration of the inheritance lost in Adam was the restoration of the Spirit’s voice, the living breath that inspires the children of the Church to sing as the angels sing:
When we consider these things carefully, we recall that man needed the voice of the living Spirit, but Adam lost this divine voice through disobedience. For while he was still innocent, before his transgression, his voice blended fully with the voices of the angels in their praise of God. Angels are called spirits from that Spirit which is God, and thus they have such voices by virtue of their spiritual nature. But Adam lost that angelic voice which he had in paradise.
(…)
Consider, too, that just as the body of Jesus Christ was born of the purity of the Virgin Mary by the Holy Spirit, so, too, the canticle of praise, reflecting celestial harmony, is rooted in the Church through the Holy Spirit. The body is the vestment of the spirit, which has a living voice, and so it is proper for the body, in harmony with the soul, to use its voice to sing praises to God.[2]
The transition from Virgin Mother to Virgin Mother, from Mary to the Church, is another hallmark of Hildegard’s theology. We noticed in O virgo Ecclesia, for example, that Ecclesia took the place of Mary beneath the beam of the Cross in Hildegard’s vision of the Crucifixion. The analogous relationship between the two comes to the fore in Hildegard’s first vision of the Church in Scivias II.3 (ch. 9):
And on [Ecclesia’s] breast shines a red glow like the dawn; for the virginity of the Most Blessed Virgin when she brought forth the Son of God glows with the most ardent devotion in the hearts of the faithful. And you hear a sound of all kinds of music singing around her, “Like the dawn, greatly sparkling” [quasi aurora valde rutilans]; for, as you are now given to understand, all believers should join with their whole wills in celebrating the virginity of that spotless Virgin in the Church.[3]
These two Virgins conceive and give birth by the power of the Holy Spirit, and in the Church, the means of that rebirth are the waters of baptism that flowed mingled with blood from the Crucified’s side. Thus, Hildegard’s heavenly voice continues:
And thus the Church is the virginal mother of all Christians, since by the mystery of the Holy Spirit she conceives and bears them, offering them to God so that they are called the children of God. And as the Holy Spirit overshadowed the Blessed Mother, so that she miraculously conceived and painlessly bore the Son of God and yet remained a Virgin, so does the Holy Spirit illumine the Church, happy mother of believers, so that without corruption she conceives and bears children naturally, yet remains a virgin.
     —Scivias II.3.12
One final element of this antiphon worth noting is the contrast between the Church’s womb (viscera) and the Devil’s “guts” (visceribus). The Devil’s plan had been to ensnare the human race, stealing them away from God and his Church (as in O virgo Ecclesia) and swallowing them up in his greed. But his plan was flawed, because he made an assumption (estimatio) that turned out not to be true. As Hildegard explains in The Book of Divine Works 3.4.5:
Within his own deceit [the devil] assumed that humankind, now wallowing in such filth, could not enter the kingdom of heaven, for the children of fornication could not be God’s people, nor could he be their God. The devil indeed takes great pleasure in the smut of the flesh’s gyrations and says to himself, “I’ve yanked humankind from their glorious place and thrust them into the deepest filth! There’s no place left in them for God, for his utter cleanliness neither wants nor accepts any filth. That’s also why humankind will remain in my quarters.”

But God concealed from the ancient serpent how he wanted to free humankind: the dirtiness that bubbled up at the serpent’s trick he washed away through his Son, and through him blotted out the wounds that lust had inflicted upon humankind.[4]
All the Devil saw in humans was the transmission of original sin through procreation, and so the blood of human birth was a blood that tied them in bondage to him. But the Church’s womb is an altogether different kind of birth: bathed in the blood of the Cross, it is the rebirth of baptism, the rebirth unto eternal life.

Transcription and Music Notes
by Beverly Lomer

Mode: C
Range: G below final to C an octave above
Setting: primarily neumatic and syllabic

In this antiphon, C, the modal final, is the primary grammatical marker. Hildegard also deploys A to begin phrases on the last line of page 1 and line 2 of page 2. All phrases end on C. Lines 4 and 5 are intended as one phrase, so as to keep the C as the outlining tone. A tick barline has been added to indicate this. It does make for a long phrase, however, and thus it might mean some adjustments for performers in order to breathe.

There are considerable small differences between the manuscripts in this work that have resulted in many ossia staves. This was done in order to reduce clutter. On line 4 on page 1, there is one note that might need clarification. Parentheses were placed around the pitch D, with the note that this pitch is only found in Dendermonde. The next note, an E in Dendermonde, is F in the Riesenkodex.

As always, performers are welcome to adjust the breathing pauses and to reshape phrases in accordance with their individual interpretation.

Further Resources for Nunc gaudeant

Footnotes

[1] All quotes from Scivias are adapted from the translation of Mother Columba Hart and Jane Bishop (Paulist Press, 1990); Latin text ed. Führkötter and Carlevaris, CCCM 43 (Turnhout: Brepols, 1978). 
[2] Letter 23, Hildegard to the prelates at Mainz. Adapted from The Letters of Hildegard of Bingen. Vol. I, trans. Joseph L. Baird and Radd K. Ehrman (Oxford Univ. Press, 1994), pp. 76-80; Latin text in Epistolarium I, ed. L. Van Acker, CCCM 91 (Brepols, 1991), pp. 61-6. 
[3] The words of the song that Hildegard hears ringing around the Virgin’s central place upon the Church’s breast are from the antiphon for the Magnificat from First Vespers on the Feast of the Assumption: “Virgo prudentissima, quo progrederis quasi aurora valde rutilans? Filia Sion, tota formosa et suavis es, pulchra ut luna electa ut sol.” (See the entry for this antiphon in the Cantus database and at ChantBlog). 
[4] St. Hildegard of Bingen, The Book of Divine Works 3.4.5, trans. Nathaniel M. Campbell (The Catholic University of America Press, 2018), pp. 400-401.