Saturday, December 17, 2016

The superstar saint

In another post, we met Mr. Pergolesi who died at the age of twenty six and was the composer of sacred music.

This time, we meet the first composer whose biography is known; a woman, also a saint, and a superstar -- Hildegard von Bingen. Also composed sacred music.p

Saint Hildegard was a German abbess, writer, composer, philosopher, mystic, visionary and polymath. And some 800 years after her death, she also turned a pop icon.

So what type of music did she write?
She wrote chants -- monophonic compositions which always have a
single melodic line. A single melody line throughout, mostly no accompaniments. Why don't you play the video while reading the story? You will easily understand this form of vocal music. It is also called the Gregorian chant or plainsong.

Hildegard is said to be among the most powerful women of her time. She was even consulted by kings and popes. Read this very inspiring line from her autobiographical writings.
But although I heard and saw these things, because of doubt and low opinion of myself and because of diverse sayings of men, I refused for a long time a call to write, not out of stubbornness but out of humility, until weighed down by a scourge of god, I fell onto a bed of sickness.
She 'fell onto a bed of sickness'. Because she refused to listen to her soul. She used humility to cover for her talents. And that made her sick. Please ask your self if this is not a modern day phenomenon as well. Only the 'scourge of god' has been replaced by depression and anxiety. 

I spoke of listening to the soul. That's how the saint could utilise her talents. What an inspiration for all of us. 
"I composed and chanted plainsong in praise of God and the saints even though I had never studied either musical notation or singing."
Our soul already knows. We can do wonders if recognise this.

Saint Hildegard, in her writings, has also described the female orgasm, and in the composition above, of which she is also the writer, she describes the chaste coming together of Virgin Mary and God.
O most beautiful and delectable one;
how greatly God delighted in you!
In the clasp of His fire
He implanted in you so that
His son might be suckled by you. (Full poem here
She also sang and acted. Some superstar! And in 1994, an electronic version of her music became a hit. (Link to album)
The Amazon review states that this new-age music 'has been used on the dance floor of at least one New York City nightclub'.

It's been a pleasure writing about her.

(A version of this story was published in DailyO.)

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