HILDEGARD von BINGEN, 1098—1179
O Jerusalem. A dedication ceremony of symphoniae


Deutsche Harmonia Mundi (BMG) 05472 77353 2

Symphoniae to Saint Rupert

1. O Jerusalem  [10:26]
Sequence to St. Rupert
women's ensemble + Maria jonas, Diane Severson, Allegra Silbiger
instrumental ensemble
Bells of the Bamberg Cathedral

2. Quia felix pueritia — Magnificat — Quia felix pueritia  [5:28]
Antiphon to St. Rupert
Gundula Anders, Carol Schlaikjer, ensemble

3. O felix apparitio  [2:35]
Antiphon to St. Rupert
Elizabeth Glen, Heather Knuthson, Consuelo Sañudo, ensemble

4. O beatissime Ruperte  [2:24]
Pamela Dellal, Nancy Mayer, Lucia Pahn, Consuelo Sañudo, Barbara Thornton, ensemble

Consecratio Virginum, The Mystical Marriage

5. Instrumental Piece  [5:47]
Elizabeth Gaver, Benjamin Bagby, Na’ama Lion

6. O tu illustrata  [7:47]
Antiphon and Versicle to Maria
women's voices, instrumental ensemble

7. Cum erubuerint  [2:50]
Antiphon to Maria
Pamela Dellal, Na’ama Lion, ensemble

The Sacred Wedding

8. [5:56]
O frondens virga — Gloria Patri
Antiphon to Maria
Consuelo Sañudo, ensemble
Ave Generosa
Hymn to Maria
Nancy Mayer, ensemble

9. O quam preciosa  [7:05]
Responsory to Maria
Janet Youngdahl, Elizabeth Gaver, ensemble

Hildegard's Relationships to Men of the Spirit

10. O ignee Spiritus  [6:49]
Hymn to the Holy Spirit
Men's vocal ensemble

11. Instrumental piece  [5:41]
instrumental ensemble

12. O quam magnum miraculum est  [4:45]
Antiphon to Maria
Heather Knutson, ensemble

SEQUENTIA, Ensemble für Musik des Mittelalters
Barbara Thornton & Benjamin Bagby

Vox feminae, Sequentia women's vocal ensemble
Barbara Thornton
Gundula Anders, Pamela Dellal, Elizabeth Glen, Heather Knuthson, Nancy Mayer,
Lucia Pahn, Consuelo Sañudo, Carol Schlaikjer, Barbara Thornton, Janet Youngdahl

Sons of Thunder, Sequentia men's vocal ensemble
Benjamin Bagby
Benjamin Bagby, Stephen Grant, Peter Halpern,
Eric Mentzel, Peter Schmitz, Bernhard Schneider

• Sequentia instrumental ensemble
Elizabeth Gaver
Elizabeth Gaver, medieval fiddles
Benjamin Bagby, medieval harp, portative organ, organistrum
Na’ama Lion, medieval flute


Edition of original Latin texts: (c) Peter Dronke, Cambridge
Additional translations of Hildegard von Bingen's texts: Barbara Stühlmeyer
English Bible passages: King James Version

Wiesbaden: Hessische Landesbibliothek, Hs. 2, also known as Rupertsberger „Riesenkodex" (1180—90)
Dendermonde: St.-Pieters & Paulusabdij, Ms. Codex 9 (ca. 1175)
All pieces are performed from facsimiles or diplomatic editions made by B. Thornton
(in case of no. 11 by B. Bagby)
based on direct consultation with the Wiesbaden Ms. Others are based on consultation with the published edition
of the Dendermonde Codex (Alamire Press, Peer, Belgium, 1991) .

Piece no. 6 is a reconstruction from a faulty Ms. original,
the first of what will probably be many attempts;
the Gloria patri of piece no. 8 is a reconstruction.

All translations, reconstructions and arrangements of Hildegard von Bingen's music made by E. Gaver, B. Thornton or B. Bagby
are protected under copyright law and may not be used by others without express permission.

5-string fiddle by Richard Earle (Basel, 1988)
3-string fiddle by Richard Earle (Basel, 1995)
15-string harp by Geoff Ralph (London, 1983)
Organistrum by Alan Crumpler (Leominster, GB,
Flute by Peter Noy (Toronto, 1995)
Bells: Kunigundenglocke and Heinrichsglocke of the Bamberg cathedral

All instrumental realizations and arrangements by Elizabeth Gaver.

Thanks to:
Pastor Peter von Steinitz of the Church of St. Pantaleon, Köln;
Friedrich Hohmann, cantor of the Church of St. Aposteln, Köln;
Thomas Ogger, Köln
Emmanuel Church of Boston
Jon Aaron Concert Artists, New York.

This recording is dedicated to the memory of Jon English.

(P) + © 1997 BMG Music
Executive producer: Wolfgang Stengel (BMG Music)
Producer: Klaus L Neumann (WDR Köln)
Recording engineer & post-production editing:
Barbara Valentin, Reiner Kühl, Dirk Franken, Frauke Lukas (WDR Köln)
Artistic producers: Barbara Thornton & Benjamin Bagby
Sequentia production manager: Joachim Kühn

Recorded: 17—21 October 1995, St. Pantaleon, Köln

Bells recording: 1 October 1966, Kunigundenglocke und Heinrichsglocke des Bamberger Doms
Recorded and mixed by Balance Surround Studio München
Balance engineer: Norbert Wilinski
Assistant: Alex Vrtic
Recorded and mixed in BSS(tm), technic

Front cover picture:
from Hildegard von Bingen: Scivias, III,5 "The Wrath of God", from Abtei St. Hildegard, Eibingen,
the parchment copy of Wiesbaden, Landesbibliothek, Hs. 1, (lost after 1945)
Text editing: Dr. Jens Markowsky
All rights reserved

deutsche harmonia mundi / BMG CLASSICS
Eine Coproduktion mit Westdeutscher Rundfunk Köln


O JERUSALEM: a dedication ceremony of symphoniae
Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179)

O Jerusalem!

“And I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away... and I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, corning down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband”. (Apocalypse 21, v. 1,2).

“O Jerusalem, your spirit will be greatly enlarged with innumerable ornaments when the mighty power of the sun of virginity will be spread abroad in you...”
(Hildegard von Bingen, Epistole, nr. 59)

The founding of Rupertsberg and the dedication of the abbey church

In 1152 while in her early 50's, Hildegard von Bingen saw her fondest dream realized after years of struggle and sacrifice: the newly-built church which was to serve her Benedictine order of sisters was dedicated in the presence of many prominent guests on May the first on the mount named Rupertsberg, the former site of a monastery in honor of the Carolingian saint St. Rupert. She offered up her church not only to this patron saint of the mountain, but also to Maria, and to three other saints: Philip, James, and Martin. With this CD, the fifth of the series of complete works begun in 1982 with Ordo Virtutum, we present a series of her compositions, or symphoniae, which might have adorned a dedicatory ceremony on that momentous occasion, thereby reflecting her devotion to those two principal figures she chose to animate her new community: St. Rupert and Maria.

The life of St. Rupert

“In blessed Rupert ... true holiness resided, as when, for example, divine glory openly revealed itself, — by means of the great miracle of visions, — as it led me and my sisters to the place of his relics, such as was shown to all who wanted to learn and understand”.
(Hildegard von Bingen, Vita Ruperti)

The only existing testament to St. Rupert's life and activities is the saint's Vita written by Hildegard herself. It has sometimes been remarked that this work of Hildegard's was perhaps meant as a “political tract”, intended to cement her claim to the Rupertsberg as the site for her future convent. In it she establishes the dating of Rupert's life (1st half of the eighth century), and other particulars. He was the son of a local duke named Robolans (a pagan) and a Lothringian Christian royal daughter named Bertha. Bertha's family possessed vast tracts of land in the Rhineland, and the areas surrounding Bingen were part of her dowry when she married. The duke died in battle against Christians when Rupert was three years old: after that his mother “put off her jewels and radiant clothing”, and gathered about herself a group of devotees who desired a simple and spiritual life. When Rupert was only twelve, he had a prophetic dream which convinced him and his mother that they should set their riches in the service of the poor and homeless. Thereafter the two founded several hospices to house and administer to the destitute. At fifteen, Rupert conquered all further temptations to enjoy the worldly wealth of his station, and made a pilgrimage to Rome. Subsequently he established many churches, ultimately settling upon Rupertsberg as the location for an oratory for himself and his mother due to “the loveliness of the flowing waters” of the place. At the age of twenty, says Hildegard, “God took him in shining innocence out of this life”. His remains (and those of his pious mother twenty-five years later) were buried overlooking the spot where the “Nahe and the Rhine mix their waters”. A community of brothers established itself in his name, and its tradition survived until the coming of the Normans, at which time all inhabitants of the region were scattered to the four winds and the religious buildings were destroyed. Only the monastery church, still housing the holy relics of mother and son, remained standing among the devastation when Hildegard first laid eyes on the site of her future convent.

Symphoniae to Saint Rupert


“and her (Jerusalem's) light was like unto a stone most precious ... and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass ... and had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates and at the gates twelve angels ... and the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones”.
(Apocalypse 21 v. 11, 12, 19)

With what complete abandon and utter clarity Hildegard created this, the longest and boldest composition of her opus: With its immensely joyous G-mode and antiphonal energy, one can easily imagine it as the climactic moment of a dedicatory ceremony to her church — allowing it to ring in every rafter and register. In having taken the image of Jerusalem as the cornerstone of this masterful musical work, perhaps as the very image of the important spiritual work she had undertaken in founding her abbey, Hildegard chose the one symbol which perhaps enjoys the longest and richest history of any in Judeo-Christian tradition. Most pertinent for the present piece is its depiction in the twenty-first chapter of the book of Revelations where the new Jerusalem, radiantly illuminated by no known sun or moon, is seen by the visionary speaker to come forth towards earth after the devastations of this world have been completed. Composed in the traditional seventh and eighth modes which are meant to embody states of active blessedness far beyond mundane care and strife, resembling the eternal swinging and swaying and psalmodizing of angels in the presence of their Divinity, she uses such energy to carry her poetic images of “reverse-Incarnation”: the upward movement of human souls into the realms of the Divine, as opposed to the descent of the divine into human form. This highly mystical chapter carries out in brilliant detail depictions of the gold and gems which adorn every part of the celestial habitation (windows, walls, towers) as it waits in readiness for its saintly occupants. The individual imagination is called upon to walk through these blessed spaces, testing the senses with the brilliance and otherworldliness of such sights and sounds.

“Walk about Zion, go round about her, number her towers, consider well her ramparts, go through her citadels that you may tell the next generation that this is God...”
(Psalm 48 v. 13)

Each invocation of Jerusalem's otherworldly splendor is accompanied by a parallel vision of St. Rupert's earthly perfections; and it is understood that his having found a place among the living stones of heavenly Jerusalem, while remaining the ever-present protector of the mountain-top of Hildegard's abbey, is meant to serve as an exemplum to each individual that the earthly is reflected in the heavenly, and vice versa. Jerusalem basks in a supernatural light, neither of the sun or the moon: its windows are of sapphire and topaz (Hildegard's code-stones for the Virtues Love and Mercy), while Rupert's youthful soul is that very window of gemstone, even while his earthly life was warmed by a natural sun; Rupertsberg is an earthly height, which cannot be conquered by human “stupidity” (presumably the Normans' destruction and the locals' centuries of neglect). Jerusalem's heights are cosmic and crowned with many-colored flowers: ornaments of nature “who neither sow nor reap” on God's earth, but in eternal fields exist as a proliferation of souls of flawless beauty (along with agrees apple of Eden, not yet tasted). Jersualem stands on glowing foundations, living foundations composed of even the unlikely souls of “publicans and sinners”, and of lost sheep from the fold. With overwhelming conviction and sensual impact, Hildegard conjures up Rupert's eternal spirit in an eternal place. Having invoked him as a guide, the virgins see through him that their souls, in the transformations of spiritual life on Rubertsberg, might also join the other “living stones” in the ramparts of Heavenly Jerusalem.


“Just as the fertile earth is blessed with divine lovingkindness”, so God loved Jacob before he was born, and with this same breath he breathed into the blessed Rupert while he was still in his childhood. For God foresaw that the sensitive earth of this child longed to be bound to God”. (earthly nature longed for heavenly nature).
(Hildegard von Bingen, Vita Ruperti)

The lightness with which Hildegard clothes the E-mode figures in this antiphon brings to mind the unpremeditated, utterly natural goodness of an innocent child.


“(Bertha) made every effort to raise her son to the honor of God rather than to the honor of the world. When she saw in him the power and the hope for the life of heaven, she directed his spirit more towards the eternal than towards idle desires. She rejoiced at the gifts of Spirit which she saw in him”.
(Hildegard von Bingen, Vita Ruperti)

Here Hildegard has made one of her typical E-modes to shimmer like the saintly flashing life of flame (flamma vite choruscavit) of her poem. Of the “gifts of the Holy Spirit” seen in the saint, she mentions Timor Dei (Fear of God) and Caritas Dei (Love of God) as flowing through his heart, just as the song culminates in a melisma on the word floruit (flowered) which seems endlessly to rise and fall like a flood.


“All those ... who saw him were full of wonder and said to one another, 'This is a truly noble human being'. ... for as a star is shining and clear without cloud cover, so is the loving mien of the face of one who is in tender intercourse with the Holy Spirit”.
(Hildegard von Bingen, Vita Rupert)

The second mode predominates here embodying the full flower of Rupert's short yet pious life, flore etatis. Though ornate, a tranquility and dignity of mode characterizes the singing. Rupert's flowering is equated with his most praiseworthy achievement: the exchange of the outer trappings of landed aristocratic life for true inner riches of spirit.

Consecratio Virginum: the mystical marriage

“And where (the splendor of Ecclesia) glowed like the dawn, its brightness rose up the hidden mysteries of heaven ... And I heard a voice from heaven saying, 'This is the flower that blooms in Zion above: mother, and rose, and lily of the valley. O flower, you will marry the son of the most mighty King...'
“And around that maiden I saw standing a great crowd of people, brighter than the sun, all wonderfully adorned with gold and gems. Some of these had their heads veiled in white, adorned with a gold circlet ... the voice from on high said, 'These are the daughters of Zion, and with them are the ones who play their harps (citharae), and all different kinds of music, and who sing with complete gladness and joy”.
(Hildegard von Bingen, Scivias, secunda pars, visio quinta)

It is known that on the occasion of the dedication of Hildegard's abbey church the consecratio virginum, ceremony for the consecration of virgins into religious life, took place. This office is like a wedding ceremony for the individual who has chosen to marry a spiritual bridegroom rather than an earthly one. (Briefly stated, the initiate is called upon to renounce the “tyrant”, confess to the “king”, receive the royal imprint, become anointed with oil symbolic of spiritual perfume and the presence of the Holy Spirit; thence one's “inner garden” is maintained exclusively for the pleasure of the holy spouse, one is, thereafter, admitted to the mystical feast and partakes in the “real” food and drink of spirit). Textually and musically the rites are bound up with the image traditions of the Virgin Mary, and are couched in the nuptial language of the Song of Songs. Generally speaking, in the High Middle Ages such consecrations served as occasions for extensive compositional embroidering, (as any marriage ceremony might). Hildegard has embraced this tradition which mixes the concept of virginity with the sweetness and eroticism of consummated love between man and woman with her characteristic intensity.

Due to a very revealing exchange of letters between Hildegard and the abbess Tengswich of a neighboring convent in Andernach, we learn to what dramatic lengths Hildegard was willing to go in order to realize the desired degree of solemnity in her liturgical feasts. It would seem that, in order to duplicate the sensual impact she herself experienced in her visions, she did not shy away from overt theatrics. (Further attested to by the creation of her mystical music-drama Ordo Virtutum).

Tengswich to Hildegard: “We have ... heard about certain strange and irregular practices that you countenance. They say that on feast days your virgins stand in the church with unbound hair when singing the psalms, and that as part of their dress they wear white silk veils, so long that they touch the floor. Moreover, it is said that they wear crowns of gold filigree into which are inserted crosses on both sides and the back ... And all this despite the express prohibition of the great shepherd of the Church...”
(Epistolae, ss 52)

(notice that the head attire mentioned exactly fits the description as set forth in Hildegard's Scivias vision).

Hildegard to Tengswich: “...These strictures do not apply to a virgin, for she stands in the unsullied purity of Paradise, lovely and unwithering, and she always remains in the full vitality of the budding rod ... Virgins are married with holiness in the Holy Spirit and in the bright dawn of virginity, and so it is proper that they come before the great High Priest as an oblation, ... that she (the virgin initiate) wear a white vestment, the lucent symbol of her betrothal ... considering that her mind is made one with the interwoven whole, and ... with the One to whom she is joined...”
(Epistolae, nr. 52r)

Contrary to the sometimes prevalent attitude that within a medieval convent a restrictive way of life was enforced merely to prohibit sexual relations, it should be obvious from Hildegard's texts and music that the Virginitas of her order was a generous and mystical concept, hardly limited to matters pertaining to the human body or to an individual biography (many a medieval spiritual had had a previous married life). The ancient doctrine embraced the idea of vita angelica: a life given over to praise and meditation and good works to restore the grace of Paradise to the soul, and as preparation for the life of Heaven. Pieces 5 — 10 are arranged here as a nuptial group in which all manner of women's song is addressed to the central feminine figure, Maria, the archetypical Spirit Bride. She is exalted as the woman among women, as the image of female purity given in perfect, loving submission to her spouse, as the very embodiment of Maytime, high season of flowers, aromas, warmth, and growth.


The solemn, majestic quality of D mode is manifested in this instrumental piece for flute, organ, and vielle. The timbres of the flute and organ merge to from one voice, while the vielle provides a contrasting color. The melodic motives, deceptively simple, are derived from several of Hildegard's works. They are slowly repeated and developed, lending a timeless quality to this processional. As the piece unfolds, the complexity increases, and the modal figures entwine in canon and variation.


Pieces 5 and 6 evoke the bridal “procession”, as it were: Hildegard's enigmatic, “freely-structured” symphonia emerges as a paean of intense communal love to Maria, demanding utter abandon and devotion from its performers. Its modal figures are masterfully exposed, varied, and imbued with meaning in many contexts, resulting in one of the most finely-wrought, and powerful compositions in the repertoire. Riding it like an inexorable wave, we follow it weaving among Marian images of clarity, divinity, and integrity and their opposites: Eve-like characteristics of contamination, error, and human frailty. (For example, the first-mode figure heard as exsuxit, made highly dynamic to express the “sucking” winds, is heard later in variation as divinam rationem (“divine reason”), and in another form as the word contagionem (the Devil's “contagion”), and finally as floruit (“flowering”). Overall the gravity and detail of these modal vocabularies serve a vision of profound beauty and womanliness sent to earth to reverse the course of spritual history. It must be felt to have an elemental power strong enough to undo the filthiness which the devil was able to work upon Eden's original woman. Hildegard has found the musical means to stir up such deep and instinctual power with the words sufflavit (“breathed in”), introitu (“entered”), infusa (“infused”), just as Spirit is pictured churning up something rich and strange, both divine and human, within Maria's womb. From this a flowering results (see both settings of “floruit”) out of which impurities have been sucked as Spirit has rushed in.


“A pilgrim, where am I? In the shadow of death. And what path am I journeying? In the path of error. And what consolation do I have? That of pilgrims”.
(Lament of the Soul returning ... to Zion, Scivias 1,4)

Hildegard makes of the plagal E-mode a veritable “pilgrim's mode” at the outset of this piece to reflect the lamentations of those wandering the exile from Jerusalem. It slides around from dissonance to dissonance upon the words casu (fall), recalling Eve's slipping out of Eden, and malicioso (evil), to recall the insinuations of the serpent. The melody effects a conversion of this human sorrow into blessedness at clara vox (clear voice) — the sound of the celestial woman's call from on high actualized by the new, exalted tessitura which soars, (as we often hear in her treatment of this mode), far beyond the 4th mode's traditional realm.

The Sacred Wedding

Each of the next three pieces is in D-mode, all emphasizing clear language and clear modalities, the purity and humility of the bride, and the freshness of “women's song”.



The world of nature is evoked in this antiphon — Maria is a “branch” (virga) and like to the “dawn” (aurora). The singer supplicates Maria directly to “reach out” to us (porrige) and “raise us up” (erigendum nos).


Hildegard's manuscript carries the rubric hymnus above this piece: clarity of structure and communal singing will be its characteristics. It is indeed written with sublime simplicity and “virginal” pleasure.

Its text brings the sights and sounds of the hieros gamos or spiritual marriage with it: the bride is a white lily, most beautiful, most sweet, an intact girl. Her bridegroom is the supernal spirit which enters and infuses her. She is pleasing to him. Her womb contains all the heavenly symphonies, and is the seat of joy. As in Nature, this womb b drops de and reddens like the dawn.


Remaining in the Affekt of divine simplicity, this response can be seen as a trope, or further elaboration upon the beauty of the Bride in the form of an exchange between soloist and ensemble. It is one of the most naturally erotic pieces Hildegard has written. In language most direct she has the womb pictured as “warmed” by spirit; the flower which is growing within her after fertilization is both her son and spouse; He, “a tender shoot” emerges “through her secret passage” in order to open Paradise for the world.

Hildegard's relationship to men of the spirit

“And from their fatherland and from other regions monks and learned men were joined to them (St. Ursula's flock of virgins) who kept them in virginal protection ... for the air flies and fulfills its duties with all creatures, and the firmament sustains it”.
(In matutinis, Antiphon cycle to St. Ursula, nrs. 3 & 5)

This poetic description of how Hildegard sees the male supporting the life-giving spirituality of the female may have grown out of her own life situation growing up as an anchorite at Disibodenberg — there the monks sustained within their order a small number of nuns, supplying them with all the means to live. When that enclave of women outgrew its “father” institution and Hildegard wished to take her group to Rupertsberg, her relationship with the monks at Disibodenberg thereafter was by turns turbulent, then ultimately harmonious. She was, in the end, to function as a trusted counselor to them in matters of spirit and organization, and her former abbot, Kuno, even requested poems /songs she may have received in visions concerning their former common patron saint, Disibod. Her carefully collected correspondence (Epistolae) documents the many letters she received and sent out to clerical individuals and groups: three Popes, several Archbishops and Bishops, some of whom seemed to be special friends (i.e. Odo of Soissons), Abbots, congregations of monks, and individual supplicants. In these it is she, the seer and counselor, who is admonishing, comforting, revealing the content of visions on specific questions, elucidating on canon and gospel, exhorting, condemning, and inspiring with her characteristic allegorical virtuosity and command of scripture. Ills known that her visionary life and its impact beyond her own cloister was made possible only because of the trusted intimacy and editorial skills of her three “secretaries”, the resident clerics called upon to perform the sacraments at her abbey: Volmar of Disibodenberg, Wibert of Gembloux, and Godfrey of Disibodenberg (her biographer). Her collected manuscripts appear in the scribal hands of monks from Disibodenberg and from St. Maximin of Trier; help in constructing the buildings of her new abbey came from monks; from a magnificent library at St. Maximin she was supplied with with rare and learned books. Testaments of her affection for her brothers in spirit appear in her collection of songs: several are dedicated to the saints revered in cloisters dear to her heart (Sequentia's next installment of the complete works will contain compositions of Hildegard's presumably intended for male voices, A Symphony of Saints). This majestic sequence to the Holy Spirit, sung by a male ensemble, symbolizes the contribution of her clerical allies to her life's work, and are thus represented in this “dedicatory ceremony”.


“And I came to a tabernacle, whose interior was of the the strongest steel. And going in, did works of brightness where I had previously done works of darkness”.
(Lament of the Soul, Scivias, 1,4)

A companion to the other great sequence written to the Holy Spirit, O ignis Spiritus (Canticles of Ecstasy), this piece brings into the context of the individual human soul recitals of how Spirit is seen to intervene upon the path to vita angelica... While the vocabularies addressed to Spirit in the first piece seem nurturing, penetrating, engendering (vivificando = “vivifying”, ungendo = “salving”, tergendo = “cleansing”, colligis = “you gather up”), here the fiery spirit is seen to be more agressive: “You always hold a sword to cut off that which noxious fruit brings forth,...” “You swiftly consume it (a rebellious human spirit) in fire,...” “When reason falls prostrate ... you shatter and break it ... through a flood of trials...”

Of all Hildegard's D-mode sequences, this one shows most closely the relationship of textual and musical dictions, bringing the torments of the battle for the human soul directly into the here-and-now. Figurations have not been lavished upon single images; here, there are no out-of-time, melismatic meditations carrying us up to higher spheres; no streams of virtuosic variations to lay meaning upon meaning — only a stark and inspiring march of syllabic declamations to impart a sense of the danger of this struggle and the taste of ultimate victory.


This pair of dances for rebec, flute, and harp reflect the youth and innocence of St. Rupert. Specific words and phrases from Quia felix pueritia and O felix apparitio, both songs dedicated to Rupert, are used to provide the melodic material. Although the element of mystery associated with E-mode is not forgotten here, exuberance and light-heartedness are in the foreground. The breathless quality of these dances, enhanced by elaborate harp figurations, describes the boundless energy of childhood. While the timbre of the rebec is more direct than that of the flute, at the end of both dances, the flute soars above in ecstatic solo moments.


“The beauty of woman radiated and blazed forth in the primordial root, and in her was formed that chamber in which every creature lies hidden ... O woman, what a splendid being you are! For you have set your foundations in the sun, and have conquered the world.”
(Hildegard von Bingen, Epistolae, nr. 52 r.)

One of the most profound testaments of Hildegard's veneration of Maria as the embodiment of the feminine spirit, this piece solemnly and rapturously unfolds with the lugubriousness of rising incense. This is a manner of mode eminently typical of Hildegard: we have seen her use such E-modes in connection with Ecclesia (O orchzis Ecclesia), and with Virgins (O Pulchrae facies).

Barbara Thornton