Monday, February 03, 2014

"O clarissima mater (Symphonia 9)"

I wanted to call attention to this fantastic post for Candlemas at Fides Quaerens Intellectum.  I'm just reblogging here the portion with the video, the text, and a bit of the post itself; I'd very much encourage you, though, to click over and read the whole thing.
For the Feast of the Purification of the Virgin Mary and the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple, a Responsory for the Virgin by St. Hildegard of Bingen

V. O clarissima
mater sancte medicine,
tu ungenta
per sanctum Filium tuum
in plangentia vulnera mortis,
que Eva edificavit
in tormenta animarum.
Tu destruxisti mortem,
edificando vitam.

R. Ora pro nobis
ad tuum natum,
stella maris, Maria.
V. O radiant bright,
O mother of a holy medicine,
your ointments
through your holy Son
you’ve poured
upon the plangent wounds of death,
by Eve constructed
as torture chambers of the soul.
This death you have destroyed
by building life.

R. Pray for us
to your child,
O sea star Mary.

V. O vivificum instrumentum
et letum ornamentum
et dulcedo omnium deliciarum,
que in te non deficient.

R. Ora pro nobis
ad tuum natum,
stella maris, Maria.

Gloria Patri et Filio
et Spiritui sancto.

R. Ora pro nobis
ad tuum natum,
stella maris, Maria.
V. O instrument of life
and joyful ornament,
and sweetener of all delights,
that in you will not fail.

R. Pray for us
to your child,
O sea star Mary.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit.

R. Pray for us
to your child,
O sea star Mary.

As the Feast of the Presentation and Purification (Candlemas) places the final cap on the lengthy season of celebrating the Incarnation in its first small steps, it seems appropriate to look today at this responsory, which is closely linked with the responsory with which we began Advent more than two months ago, Ave Maria, o auctrix vita (Symphonia 8). Their most consonant shared theme is Hildegard’s treatment of the paired relationship between Mary and Eve, which in both of these pieces uses the peculiar imagery of architecture—Eve constructing one set of buildings, e.g. the “torture chambers of the soul;” and Mary tearing down those mortal halls and building life in their place.

Despite the arresting image of “the wounds of death” themselves lamenting their pain as Eve built them into our torments and tortures, however, this piece devotes more thematic space to the opening image of Mary’s role as healer of those wounds. The lengthy melismas of the opening five lines confirm the piece’s focus, especially as tu ungenta both reaches to the piece’s next-to-highest note and introduces a key motif repeated once on sanctum Filium and twice on infudisti. Indeed, the lengthy melisma on that verb draws particular attention to this other even more arresting image that invests the Virgin Mother with significant salvific agency: Mary herself pours out the ointment through her Son upon the wounds of death.[2] We see here Hildegard’s symbolist theological mind in action as she identifies Mary’s mediation of the Incarnation as mother with the doctor’s mediation of the healing powers of medicinal balm.

Much more at the link.  Go read!  I'm sure you'll want to add Fides Quaerens your blog list, too.


Nathaniel M. Campbell said...

Thanks for the shout-out and link!


bls said...

It's a total pleasure, believe me. Your blog is just terrific!


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