Dr. Hildegard

October 8, 2012

I don’t have much time to write today, but I couldn’t let this pass entirely without comment: yesterday in Rome Pope Benedict XVI named the third-third and thirty-fourth Doctors of the Church: St. John of Avila and St. Hildegard of Bingen.

About St. John of Avila, I am embarrassed to say, I know next to nothing, and I shall attempt to remedy that defect soon.

I would be obliged to say much the same about St. Hildegard, but for this: she was a composer of some renown, and I have been listening to her wonderful music for years. To my knowledge, Pope Benedict has not specified precisely why he has elevated her to the rank of Doctor — in this article, Leroy Huizenga speculates about what the reasons might be — but, considering the Pope’s longstanding effort to bring stability, continuity, and beauty to the Church’s liturgy, I find it difficult to believe that her special concern for sacred music is not among the factors he considered. It seems to me that lovers of sacred music within the Catholic Church would do well to look to her, with renewed affection, as their patroness, and that is an encouraging thought.

Here is St. Hildegard’s O ignis Spiritus, a song of praise to the Holy Spirit, as sung by Sequentia:

(Text and translation can be found on this page.)

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