Song du Jour

Song du Jour

Benedictine Thoughts, Teachings, and Prayers

Hildegard of Bingen: Her Legacy Lives On

November 5, 2012

“As an abbess and Christian mystic Hildegard held one of the few positions of power available to women in the Middle Ages. This enabled her to research natural history and oversee the production of several illuminated manuscripts. Her portrait materializes on the right side of the canvas and morphs into one of Hildegard’s visions, the wheel-like Cosmic Tree. This circle turns between the portrait of Hildegard and an image of her receiving inspiration from one of her first illuminated manuscripts, The Scivias (also known as Know the Ways of the Lord). Here we see Hildegard with the monk Volmar, her mentor and promoter, and she is portrayed as a vessel into which inspiration pours.”


            When I pursued reflecting on Hildegard’s life, I never realized the vastness of her talents. Her life truly is categorized into so many fascinating areas that I found myself wanting more and therefore had to divide my thoughts into three parts. This is the last section but hopefully you will want to read more about her life.


            Before touching on more areas of her life, I would like to recapitulate God’s gifts to this chosen woman; who did not hide her light under a bushel basket. On my own personal journey, I have found that it is in our aloneness that we grow. This is so true with Hildegard. I was terribly upset when her parents tithed her to the church - but I am grateful to have eyes to see her visual contributions as well as ears to hear her extraordinary melodies. If Hildegard lived a normal life with her mother, father and nine siblings, we may never have experienced her hidden treasures within…nor would the universe. For what has come from Hildegard to us, first came from the hidden cave of God’s heart. At the proper moment in God’s time, Hildegard von Bingen was selected by God to receive a continuous waterfall of abundance; God’s energetic rays penetrating into this little girl. She had no idea what she held within herself. Hildegard is an example to all of us of just how God works in his mysterious ways. In her weakened condition with illness, she was confined to a bed and it was in this weakened state that God whispered to her his ideas that were so out of this world.

            “The beauty and depth of theme found in Hildegard’s theology, philosophy, cosmology and medicine can all be found condensed in her music as in a jewel. For Hildegard, music was an all-embracing concept. It was the symphony of angels praising God, the balanced proportions of the revolving celestial spheres, the exquisite weaving of body and soul, and the hidden design of nature’s creations. It was the manifest process of life moving, expanding, growing towards the joy of its own deepest realizations and a profound unity of voices singing the praises of God here on earth. It was beauty, sound, fragrance and the flower of human artistry. Over 300 times in her writings, Hildegard uses music to illuminate spiritual truths.” (Taken from:

            The incredible aspect of Hildegard’s God-inspired creativity was her accomplishment in music. You can hear in her poetry/melody of her songs that her music was not like any other that came before her. Even though she received no formal training in music, her talent and motivation inspired her to write 77 chants along with the first musical drama in history, entitled: The Ritual of Virtues. Hildegard wrote in her autobiographical passages that she composed and chanted plainsong in praise of God and the saints even though she had never studied either musical notation or singing. Unlike the music of her day, her lyrical speech breaks into emotion; her melodies span the gamut of two and one half octaves whereby she can execute vocal gymnastics with ease. So you can see that her abilities could only come for the divine Trinity.

            Hildegard had a strong sense of the presence of God in nature as well as the correlation of all things. She had a concept known as viriditas which is Latin for the word green, green power, or green energy. Translated in English, it means green vigor, lushness, greenness, or sap energy. This illumination refers to fertility and life-force as well as earth energy. Hildegard was so ahead of her time in thinking about balance and holistic living…a green future.

            I would implore you all to check out her artwork which was inspired by God through mental images, revelations.


My song du jour: O Glistening Sunlight by Hildegard of Bingen


O glistening starlight,
O most brilliant singular figure
of the royal marriage,
O glowing gem:

You are arrayed as a person of high rank
who has no mark nor wrinkle;


You are also an angel’s companion
and a citizen of sacredness.


Run, flee from the ancient destroyer’s cave!                               
Come, enter into the palace of the King


  Song taken from:

  Illumination Art taken from:



“That in all things God may be glorified”


Sr. Jo-El McLaughlin, O.S.B.






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