Readings for Hildegard 1179
“I will sing to the Lord as long as I live; I will praise my God while I have my being.” (Psalm 104:34)
Today I will move from the Daily Office to remember Hildegard as she is chronicled in the Great Cloud of Witnesses.
“Hildegard of Bingen, born in 1098 in the lush Rhineland Valley, was a mystic, poet, composer, dramatist, doctor, and scientist. Her parents’ tenth child, she was tithed to the Church and raised by the anchoress Jutta in a cottage near the Benedictine monastery of Disibodenberg. (Great Cloud of Witnesses for September 17)
I feel drawn to people with multiple gifts, especially if they include mysticism and music. Hildegard was also respected by Bernard of Clairvaux which as a Knight Templar myself I feel that I too should lean in and listen to her more closely. “In 1147, Bernard of Clairvaux recommended her first book of visions, Scivias, to Pope Eugenius III, leading to papal authentication at the Synod of Trier. Hildegard became famous, eagerly sought for counsel, a correspondent of kings and queens, abbots and abbesses, archbishops and popes.” (Great Cloud of Witnesses for September 17) So why not smart people of today listen to her as well?
Hildegard crossed barriers that were meant to keep women out. “She carried out four preaching missions in northern Europe, unprecedented activity for a woman. She practiced medicine, focusing on women’s needs; published treatises on natural science and philosophy; and wrote a liturgical drama, The Play of the Virtues, in which personified virtues sing their parts and the devil, condemned to live without music, can only speak. For Hildegard, music was essential to worship. Her liturgical compositions, unusual in structure and tonality, were described by contemporaries as “chant of surpassing sweet melody” and “strange and unheard-of music.”” (Great Cloud of Witnesses for September 17)
I particularly share her feeling that music was/is essential to worship. Not everybody wants to hear this but I believe music assists in guiding our souls to the Spirit of God. I also marvel that in her pondering the devil must live in a world without music. If nothing else encourages us to appreciate music this should. “Hildegard lived in a world accustomed to male governance. Yet, within her convents, and to a surprising extent outside them, she exercised a commanding spiritual authority based on confidence in her visions and considerable political astuteness. When she died in 1179, at 81, she left a rich legacy which speaks eloquently across the ages. .” (Great Cloud of Witnesses for September 17)
Let us hear what the Spirit is saying to and through God’s people and ponder anew what the Almighty can do. John+