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Lament, Liturgy and the End of Time in Hildegard of Bingen’s Ordo Virtutum

Margot Fassler, University of Notre Dame

December 3, 2021 · 4:30 pm6:30 pm · 102 Woolworth

Music Department, Religion Department, Medieval Studies

This presentation is based on chapters from Margot Fassler’s forthcoming book Cosmos, Liturgy, and the Arts in the Twelfth Century: Hildegard’s Illuminated Scivias (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2022). The emphasis here is on Hildegard’s sung play, the Ordo Virtutum, and one aspect of that play, the laments that are found within it and set in the tonal area of E. These laments characterize both the singing of the congregate group of virtues and of the trapped soul. Two of the most complicated chants in the play will be discussed in some detail, “O plangens vox” and “O vivens fons” which are bookends in the soul’s journey from sin sickness to redemption. A third chant to be studied is found at the end of the play “In principio.” The text that was deeply meaningful to Hildegard for she quoted it again and commented upon it also in her treatise On the Divine Works. Fassler interprets the chant as it related to the cosmos, as Hildegard understood it, and to the inevitable end of time that comes with the achieving of the Golden Number referenced in this lamenting chant text.

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