Saturday, May 18, 2013

O ignis Spiritus Paracliti (Hildegard von Bingen)

For Pentecost, "O fire of the Spirit, the Comforter," by Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179); this is among my favorite texts.   The original Latin, with an English translation, is below the video.  


O ignis spiritus paracliti,
vita vite omnis creature,
sanctus es vivificando formas.

Sanctus es unguendo
periculose fractos,
sanctus es tergendo
fetida vulnera.

O spiraculum sanctitatis,
o ignis caritatis,
o dulcis gustus in pectoribus
et infusio cordium
in bono odore virtutum.

O fons purissime,
in quo consideratur
quod Deus alienos colligit
et perditos requirit.

O lorica vite
et spes compaginis membrorum omnium
et o cingulum honestatis:
salva beatos.

Custodi eos qui carcerati sunt
ab inimico,
et solve ligatos
quos divina vis salvare vult.

O iter fortissimum
quo penetravit omnia
in altissimis et in terrenis
et in omnibus abyssis
tu omnes componis et colligis.

De te nubes fluunt, ether volat,
lapides humorem habent,
aque rivulos educunt,
et terra viriditatem sudat.

Tu etiam semper educis doctos
per inspirationem sapiente
letificos.

Unde laus tibi sit,
qui es sonus laudis
et gaudium vite,
spes et honor fortissimus
dans premia lucis.



O fire of the Spirit, the Comforter,
Life of the life of all creation,
Holy are you, giving life to the Forms.

Holy are you, anointing
The dangerously broken;
Holy are you, cleansing
The fetid wounds.

O breath of sanctity,
O fire of charity,
O sweet savor in the breast
And balm flooding hearts
With the fragrance of virtues.

O limpid fountain,
In which it is seen
How God gathers the strays
And seeks out the lost:

O breastplate of life
And hope of the bodily frame,
O sword-belt of honor:
Save the blessed!

Guard those imprisoned
By the foe,
Free those in fetters
Whom divine force wishes to save.

O mighty course
That penetrated all,
In the heights, upon the earth,
And in all abysses:
You bind and gather all people together.

From you clouds overflow, winds take wing,
Stones store up moisture,
Waters well forth in streams --
And earth swells with living green.

You are ever teaching the learned,
Made joyful by the breath
Of Wisdom.

Praise then be yours!
You are the song of praise,
The delight of life,
A hope and a potent of honor,
Granting rewards of light.

 Note: The English version is adapted from Barbara Newman's literal English translation, in Saint Hildegard of Bingen, Symphonia: A Critical Edition of the Symphonia armonie celestium revelationum, 2nd ed. (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1998), 151.

My favorite translation of the first section of this text, though - and I'm not sure where it came from - goes like this:
O Holy Spirit,
Giving life to all life,
Moving all creatures,
Root of all things,
Washing them clean,
Wiping out their mistakes,
Healing their wounds,
You are our true life,
Luminous, wonderful,
Awakening the heart from its ancient sleep.

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