The Ordo Virtutum Of Hildegard Of Bingen: Critical Studies (Early Drama, Art, And Music Monograph Series) 1879288184, 9781879288188

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The Ordo Virtutum Of Hildegard Of Bingen: Critical Studies (Early Drama, Art, And Music Monograph Series)
 1879288184, 9781879288188

Table of contents :
Music and Performance: Hildegard of Bingen's Ordo Virtutum
The Ordo Virtutum:Ancestor of the English Moralities?
The Virtues of Hildegards Ordo Virtutum} or, It Was a Woman's World
The Monastic Context of Hildegard's Ordo Virtutum
Ego Humilitatis, regina Virtutum: Poetic Language and Literary Structure in Hildegard of Bingen's Vision of the'Virtues
The Ordo Virtutum: A Note on Production

Citation preview

The Ordo Virtutum o f Hildegard o f Bingen

The Ordo Virtutum of Hildegard o f Bingen Critical Studies

E dited by Audrey Ekdahl Davidson

Early Drama» Art» and Music Monograph Series» 18

MEDIEVAL INSTITUTE PUBLICATIONS Western Michigan university Kalamazoo, Michigan 1992

ISBN 879288-17-6 (casebound) 879288-18-4 (paperbound) © 1992 by the Board of the M edieval Institute

Printed in the United States o f America

Cover design by Linda K. Judy

Contents Illustrations




Abbreviations Music and Performance: Hildegard of Bingen’s Ordo Virtutum Audrey Ekdahl Davidson



The Ordo Virtutum: Ancestor of the English Moralities? Robert Potter


The Virtues of Hildegard’s Ordo Virtutum, or, It Was a Woman’s World Pamela Sheingom


The Monastic Context of Hildegard’s Ordo Virtutum Julia Bolton Holloway Ego Humiiitatis, regina Virtutum: Poetic Language and Literary Structure in Hildegard of Bingen’s Vision of the Virtues Gunilla Iversen



The Ordo Virtutum: A Note on Production Clifford Davidson




Illustrations Plates 1-7. Wiesbaden, Hessische Landesbibliothek, MS. 2 (Riesen­ kodex), fols. 478v-481v. The folios containing Hildegard of Bin­ gen's Ordo Virtutum. 8. Fides trampling Veterum Cultura Deorum and the Coronation of the Martyrs. Prudentius, Psychomachia. Bern, Burgeibibliothek, Cod. 264, p. 70. 9. Adoration of the Lamb. Rothschild Canticles. Beinecke MS. 404, fol. 13r. 10. The opening portion of the Vision. Wiesbaden, Hessische Landesbibliothek, MS. 2 (Riesenkodex), fol. 132v. 11. The Celestial Hierarchy. Illustration from the copy made at Eibingen from the original manuscript of the Scivias (Wiesbaden, Hessische Landesbibliothek, MS. 1), which was lost in 1945. 12. The segment of the Vision which corresponds to the opening portion of the Ordo Virtutum. Hessische Landesbibliothek, MS. 2, fol. 133v.

Preface There has scarcely been a woman in history who has been as multitalented as Hildegard of Bingen. At the same time that she was recognized as a monastic administrator, author, and composer of music, she also was busy telling pope, emperor, clergy, and laity how to manage their spiritual and secular lives. Amazingly for a woman of that time, her advice was often accepted. But the present collection of essays does not set out to celebrate her pol­ itics or letters, but rather focuses on her visions expressed in mystical poetry and dramatic scenes in the Ordo Yirtutum. This poetic drama, moreover, was set to music that made of. her work a total art-work, with musical settings more closely matched to the text than in any other example of the liturgical drama, yet all created with her personal “thumbprint” evident. The essays presented here are to be seen collectively as pris­ matic criticism addressing the various facets of the Ordo Virtutum, which is the only medieval music-drama with extant music that is definitely attributed to an individual. The play is also unique in its non-reliance on a biblical text as well as in its structural and aesthetic artistry. Robert Potter's paper is very appropriately included here and is reprinted by permission of Comparative Drama. Initially pub­ lished in 1986, the article introduces a number of questions to be treated in the other papers in this volume. For example, early on, Potter (University of California, Santa Barbara) believed that the Ordo Virtutum was performed and that it hence was not a closet drama, and he connected the work with Church ritual, venturing the theory that the occasion might have been the dedication of the new abbey at Rupertsberg. He lays to rest the possibility that this work, which he calls “a lyrical celebration of Hildegard's monastic ideal,” may be seen as part of the later morality play tradition. Unlike the rough-hewn humor of the English moralities, Hilde-• •• Vil


gaud's play is “rooted in its own splendid isolation from the snares of the world*’ (p. 36). My essay on the music and drama of the play had its incep­ tion with the preparation of my performing edition of the play, which was published by Medieval Institute Publications in 1985. Under a grant from Western Michigan University early in the 1980's, I was searching in the British Library for women com­ posers of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, and stumbled by serendipity on Hildegard's music-drama in the BOckeler-Barth edition. I set out to learn everything that I could about the play, and continued by making a first-draft edition of the play from a microfilm of the Wiesbaden manuscript (Riesencodex) and prepar­ ing a paper on it for the Colloquium sponsored by the Société Internationale pour l'Etude du Théâtre Médiéval in Viterbo, Italy, in 1983. This paper, an earlier version of my contribution to the present volume, was subsequently published in the proceedings of the Colloquium. In 1984 as musical director of the Society for Old Music production I staged the drama for the local community and the International Congress on Medieval Studies. My collaborator was Clifford Davidson, who served as my dramatic director and also at my request has contributed a report on this staging of the play in the present volume. His article emphasizes the principle that nothing must be done hurriedly; in Cynthia Bouigeault’s words, the music and drama must be allowed to unfold and “breathe.*’ The singers of the Society for Old Music—notably Fay Smith as Anima, Aliene Dietrich as Queen Humility, Virginia Westley as Victory, Catherine Niessink as Chastity, and Nicholas Batch as the Devil—also were in a real sense collaborators since they helped to solidify my ideas regarding my evolving performing edition. My continuing interest in the Ordo Virtutum led to the or­ ganizing of a session on the topic of this play at the International Congress on Medieval Studies in 1991. The three papers presented in that session, herein revised and expanded, make up the remain-• • ft

V lll


ing essays in this book. Pamela Sheingom (Baruch College, City University of New Yoik), whose field is art history, treats ritual and iconography. She underlines the view that the Ordo Virtutum was performed, and she plausibly speculates that this performance may have been in connection with the liturgy of the Dedication of the Virgins, the ceremony which seals a nun to the cloister. She suggests that the first performance of the Ordo Virtutum could have been in the presence of the Bishop of Mainz who would have been present to officiate. Julia Bolton Holloway (University of Colorado, Boulder) grapples with the setting of monastic life and with the way in which Hildegard and her drama fit into this confined and yet privileged existence. She raises and settles some important ques­ tions of how Hildegard was able to live within the cloister and yet be a creative person with strong ideas and a strong will. She shows that drama within the convent could be a “playful defiance to obe­ dience of the Rule** and that such play could serve “a higher law— the law of love manifested in the Gospels” (p. 67). Gunilla Iversen (Corpus Troporum, University of Stockholm) discusses Hildegard*s poetic imagery in connection with liturgy and music. The poetry of the original Vision in Scivias (the ver­ sion on which I am convinced the Ordo Virtutum is based) is shown to have rich metaphorical and religious meanings. Hildegard was always very aware not only of the sense of the words but also of the sound of the poetry and its musical setting. Music and poetry very nearly become one, and at the beginning of the Vision (Scivias ID.xiii) Hildegard reports seeing a light and hearing music concurrently (p. 82, below). Again, at the end of the Vision she hears the singing of a multitude and revealingly says that “their song went through me, so that I understood them per­ fectly” (p. 101, below). One cannot doubt Hildegatd*s synesthesic sense. I owe thanks to a number of people, especially, of course, to the contributors to this volume but also to those who assisted in ix


other ways to make the book possible. Clyde Brocket!, Jr., has been invaluable as a person with whom I could discuss musical questions, particularly questions concerning modes. To Otto Grttndler, Thomas Seiler, Juleen Eichinger, and Linda Judy of the Medieval Institute I owe thanks for their support at various stages, including the publication of my performing edition of the Ordo Virtutum and the present volume. The librarians at the Hessische Landesbibliothek, especially Dr. W. Podehl, extended me every courtesy during my visit to Wiesbaden. It is with the permission of the Hessische Landesbibliothek also that I am able to publish the photographs of the Riesenkodex. I am also grateful to the librari­ ans of the British Library for the opportunity to examine and study MS. Add. 15,102, which I discuss in the appendix to my article in the present volume. Twice in the course of my work on the Ordo Virtutum Western Michigan University has supported my research and travel to England and Germany with generous grants and fellowhips. But once again, it is to my husband, Clifford Davidson, that I owe my greatest debt of thanks; his enthusiasm for the written word and for my work, both written and in performance, has never flagged, and for that I am deeply grateful. Audrey Ekdahl Davidson Kalamazoo, Michigan


Abbreviations The following abbreviations appear in the essays in this book:

D — Dendermonde Manuscript OV — Ordo Virtutum R — Riesenkodex (Hessische Landesbibliothek, MS. 2) s.d. — stage direction^)


M usic and Performance: Hildegard of Bingen's Ordo V iitutum Audrey Ekdahl Davidson The Latin music-drama Ordo Virtutum (c.1151) is one of the most important dramatic works of the Middle Ages. Written by a seeress noted for her powerful imagery, its remarkable text is set to music which is no less powerful in its aesthetic effect. And the music-drama is all the more remarkable since its author, Hildegard of Bingen, denied ever having been formally taught or having “learnt musical notation or any kind of singing.“1 As other essays in this present volume also indicate, it is strange that Hildegard’s Ordo Virtutum was so thoroughly neg­ lected prior to the publication in 1970 of Peter Dronke’s Poetic Individuality in the Middle Ages? Yet more strangely, even fol­ lowing Dronke’s recognition of the importance of the Ordo Vir­ tutum, the neglect of Hildegard’s genius as composer and play­ wright has continued. Though the play was known to German scholars in the early part of this century,3 Karl Young’s monumen­ tal The Drama o f the Medieval Church (1933) does not mention the Ordo, but more disturbing is the reluctance of more recent scholars to take notice of this music-drama. William L. Smoldon’s The Music o f the Medieval Church Dramas (1980) has no listing in its index for Hildegard, although there is an entry for Hilarius (followed by one for Hodie confondus est). Even Susan Rankin’s recent and otherwise admirable discussion of liturgical drama in the revised volume The Early Middle Ages to Î300 in the New Oxford History of Music fails to treat Hildegard or her Ordo Vir­ tutum.4 To be sure, until recently there was no usable performing edition of the Ordo Virtutum which would make it accessible to 1


Audrey Ekdahl Davidson

perfonners and those scholars not comfortable with early notation.3 There had been a 1927 edition of the text of the play by Maura Böckeler in Der heiligen Hildegard von Bingen, Reigen der Tugen­ den: Ordo Virtutum, which included a transcription of the music into modem notation by Sr. Pudentiana Barth of St. Hildegard’s Abbey at Eibingen.6 Sr. Pudentiana's transcription, however, de­ parts significantly from the unique manuscript, the so-called Ries­ enkodex, Codex 2 in the Hessische Landesbibliothek, Wiesbaden (hereafter identified as R), fols. 478v-481v (figs. 1-7). Since Sr. Pudentiana transposes the various characters’ melodic phrases up or down in pitch in order to keep the music within an extremely limited range, her transcription gratuitously alters in range many of the sung dramatic speeches, thus destroying any possibility of ton­ al coherence. While she does not actually try to justify her use of transpositions, she nevertheless indicates that she has attempted to choose “keys” (an anachronistic term) that will go harmoniously together “Da die Tonarten der einzelnen Antiphonen beständig wechseln . . . waren wir bestrebt, die Transposition so zu wählen, dass sich die Melodien harmonisch anschliessen.”7 She does not acknowledge the fact that medieval pitch was relative rather than absolute or that the note as written may not be the pitch to be sung. In actuality, the beginning note was only a relative point from which the singer(s) could launch the song once he, she, or they had determined what was the most comfortable range for the said singer(s). Also, Sr. Pudentiana may have believed that neither medieval nor modem singers would be able to encompass the range in R which is from a below c' (middle c) to a" above c".* The notes from a to a" constitute a spread of two octaves. What Sr. Pudentiana does not take into account is that not all voices need to sing the èntire range of possible notes; at the beginning of the Ordo Virtutum (OV 1/1, 3/6-8), the Patriarchs and Prophets, for example, sing from a to c", with the possibility of the baritones emphasizing the lower tones and the tenors taking over more strongly at the upper tones. Done skilfully, there need be no break in sound, only a seamless passage from lowest to highest tones. However, while the notes as found in the manuscript are reason­


M usic and Performance

able for both baritones and tenors, Sr. Pudentiana’s transcription nevertheless provides two different transpositions for (1) the ques­ tion by the Patriarchs and Prophets (OV 1/1)—transposed into a “key” with the signature of four sharps—a question to which the Virtues answer in OV 2/2-5 in a “key” with the signature of two sharps; and (2) the statement by the Patriarchs and Prophets (OV 3/6-8)—using the same “key” signature as in No. 2 (two sharps). Likewise the manuscript presents the women's voices singing no lower than a, while only Mercy (OV 49/137-39) and Victory (OV 80/236) sing as high as a". The collective Virtues occasionally do rise to g", but a musical director can utilize a two choir system that separates altos and mezzo-sopranos into a lower, richer choir (although any good mezzo-soprano should be able to sing at least a bl>") and that places sopranos into an upper, lighter choir. Thus there is no valid reason for Sr. Pudentiana’s erratic transposition practice either for men’s or for women’s voices. This practice is particularly irksome at OV 55/152-53 when Patience’s speech is transposed down a fourth, moving her singing into a darker, heavi­ er range instead of the bright, clear one shown in the manuscript. In spite of the idiosyncracies of Sr. Pudentiana’s transposi­ tions, the number of actual notational errors are few. At OV 2/4 she renders the word “illo” as b-dT-a (with a key signature of two sharps); the notes at this word should be rendered a-b-a. Also, at OV 47/133 at the syllable “-tí-” of “spurcitias” (R: “spurcicias”) there is a variation from the manuscript (Example I). But generally Sr. Pudentiana is faithful to the notes as found in R.







Audrey Ekdahl Davidson

However, the editorial division of the drama in this edition into six discrete sections should be carefully scrutinized. The Böckeler-Barth edition divides the play into Vorspiel (Prologue), three “scenes,” Nachspiel, and Epilog. These divisions are not found in R, though in my own study of the organization of the play I have arrived at a similar structure with a slightly different rationale behind it (see below). However, while helpful for study, such divisions should not be introduced into the performance itself since the action must be continuous and not interrupted.9 The manuscript (R) also does not divide the Virtues into two choruses, nor does it combine both choruses into one larger chorus (Gesamt­ chor) as the Böckeler-Barth edition directs. Nevertheless, splitting the chorus into lower and higher voices—a practice suggested above—could have been useful or even necessary, and such an arrangement also provides contrast; the two choruses, separately and then brought together, are a commonsensical and sound the­ atrical solution to the monotony of a single large chorus singing constantly, albeit broken up with many solo sections. Although we do not have any evidence in R for the use of divided choruses which amalgamate into a larger one, such practice would have been consistent with the liturgical practice of Hildegard’s monas­ tery. The transcription of the Ordo Virtutum into square-note musi­ cal notation by Pudentiana Barth, Maria-Immaculata Ritscher, and Joseph Schmidt-Görg as recently as 196910 might be presumed to be more accurate than the earlier transcription of Sr. Pudentiana. However, such is not the case; the transcription slips the traces at several points, most notably at OV 71/199-200, where several musical phrases are found to be transposed exactly one note higher

Music and Performance


than in R (see the music accompanying the words “in te non amisisti, sed acute previdisti”). The same type of error happens at the words “quomodo eos“ and at “quam prius illorum causa fuisset,“ except that for the latter phrase the editors conclude on an e, which is the note found in R at this point What has happened is that the 1969 editors have thrown several passages into totally new modal relationships; while Hildegard herself might be found beginning an item in one mode and moving to another mode within i t this was her prerogative as composer. It is much harder to rationalize the rather inconsistent treatment of her tonality in the 1969 edition. The Ordo Virtutum is found in three manuscripts, if we count the abbreviated version of the text preserved in the Scivias.“ But the music appears in only two manuscripts, though one of these, a transcription dated 1487 and copied for the humanist Johannes Trithemius, is musically unreliable (see the Appendix to this chap­ ter, below). The only reliable copy is preserved in R, to which reference has been made above. While, as Robert Potter has specu­ lated in his chapter in the present volume, the Ordo may possibly have been completed in time for performance at Rupertsberg coin­ ciding with the occurrence of the dedication of the nuns* new abbey church12 (though Pamela Sheingom plausibly argues for another specific occasion, the ceremony of the Dedication of Vir­ gins13), the manuscript R containing the only extant twelfth-century version of the music of the Ordo was apparently itself not copied until the decade after Hildegard *s death in 1179.14 The work of copying R—a large, thick manuscript measuring 11 1/2 x 18 in­ ches, containing 481 folios, and handsomely bound in leather— was under the direction of her nephew Wezelin.15 The placement of the Ordo in this manuscript is at the very end, following sixtyseven songs and sequences of her Symphonia, each of which has musical notation. The neumes in the musical settings of the songs and the play are typical of Upper Rhenish notation—a system descended from St. Gall neumes—in use in the twelfth century prior to the development of gothic or Hufnagel notation.16 The neumes are placed on four-line staves with the text residing on a


Audrey Ekdahl Davidson

red line, which occasionally is also utilized as an extra line for neumes. Hildegards music has not been sufficiently subjected to anal­ ysis, and yet it would seem that such analysis is required if her work is to be understood and perforated. First, the Hildegaidian “thumbprint** in her Symphonia and especially in her Ordo Virtutum needs to be recognized. Her “thumbprint,” which seems unique in medieval music-drama, consists of more or less for­ mulaic structures built on frequently appearing intervals combined in an uncodified but yet not random fashion. What makes this process special for Hildegard is that the most frequently used intervals are the melodic ascending fifth followed either by an upper ascending fourth built on the top note of the fifth or by an upper ascending fifth built on the top note of the fifth (see Example II).


Commenting on Hildegard *s music in general in his article in The New Grove Dictionary o f Music and Musicianst Ian Bent compares her use of small mosaics of melody to the melodic prac­ tice of Adam of St. Victor, but he believes that the Victorine com­ poser is closer to a centonization practice than is Hildegard.17 Robert Cogan, who seems to have more confidence in HildeganTs unitary structures and the additive method with which she creates her melodies, has made reference to these units as “cells,” capable of being joined to other cells in various permutations.1* Thus Hil­ degards method, in Cogan’s useful system, comes very near to being a true centonization process. Further mathematical analysis would verify more precisely how often a particular unit is joined to another particular unit—or if there is a virtually endless variety

Music and Performance


of permutations. Other characteristics of HildeganTs music include: (1) the alternation of solo and chorus material, and (2) melodies rendered both melismatically and syllabically. The narrative segments of the Ordo are set in simple syllabic neuntes—segments which are jux­ taposed with expansive melismatic settings of the more lyrical passages. Ludwig Bronarski cannot resist calling the syllabic ma­ terial “recitative” and the melismatic material “aria”—terms from modem opera not especially appropriate to medieval musicdrama.19 There is also a structural factor since the entire work is organized to culminate in a final climactic melismatic section which enters an ecstatic realm of poetry, music, and theology, all three blending to evoke a mystical state. The subject matter of the play possesses genuine dramatic interest. The drama itself is no mere copy of the narrative related by Prudentius in his Psychomachia, although there are obvious resemblances since the Virtues in Hildegard’s drama are part of a long tradition extending back to Prudentius* personified figures. In the Psychomachia, the battle is drawn between Virtues and Vices, and both are mostly portrayed as feminine.20 For example, Pruden­ tius’ Queen o f the Virtues, Faith, is shown as a female in rough, disordered dress in deadly combat with Worship-of-the-Old-Gods, also a feminine figure: Lo, first Worship-of-thc-Old-Gods ventures to match her strength against Faith’s challenge and strike at her. But she [Faith], rising higher, smites her foe’s head down, with its fillet-decked brows, lays in the dust that mouth that was sated with the blood of beasts, and tramples the eyes under foot, squeezing them out in death.*'

Hildegard, who does not, to be sure, illustrate the battling against the Vices that is present in Prudentius and in the visual arts described by Adolf Katzenellenbogen,22 depicts almost all of the drama’s characters as female. Indeed, except for the figures of the Patriarchs and Prophets at the beginning of the play, the only sig­ nificant male role is that of the Devil, who in the original pioduc-


Audrey Ekdahl Davidson

tion could have been played by a priest, friar, or monk.23 Hildegard’s drama also differs from Prudentius’ undramatized narrative in that her work establishes the struggle of the Virtues and the Devil for one single Soul who represents all souls—an Everysoul as in the medieval drama Everyman—and who is shown in both happy and unhappy modes.24 This particular but universal Soul is thus the center of a conflict between the Devil and the Virtues. What the music must therefore express is the struggle against the wiles of the Devil, whose aim is the permanent seduc­ tion of the Soul, who wavers, goes astray, and returns penitently. Hildegard’s musical setting must also help to individualize and personalize the Virtues, especially Humilitas or Humility, the Queen of the Virtues. In contrast, the Devil (OV 17/48-49, 19/5962, 29/84-85,72/209-11, and 83/235-37) has no music but makes his characterization clear through growls, howls, and other disgust­ ing noises.25 The Patriarchs and Prophets, who at the very begin­ ning of the play have rather small roles (but who may also be brought back at the end of the drama to add strength to the final procession, In principio [“In the beginning,” OV 87/252-69]), need far less care in musical differentiation. The shape of the drama may be described in rough outline as follows: 1. An introduction (OV 1-3) in which the Virtues are introduced to the Patriarchs and Prophets. (This section is identified as Vorspiel in Böckeler’s edition.) 2. The complaints of the Souls Imprisoned in Bodies are heard; they contrast with the joyful sounds of the Soul. Though at first happy (Felix Anima), she shortly will fall into discouragement and will be seduced through the influence of the Devil (OV 4-21). 3. A section (OV 22-57) in which the Virtues define themselves. The Devil remains present to espouse views

M usic and Performance


diametically opposed to those of the Virtues. (Peter Dronke suggests that this portion of the play includes a dance by the Virtues.2*) 4. A section (OV 58-71) in which the Soul returns, weakened and stained by her experience, and repents. 5. A penultimate section (OV 72-86) in which the Devil is bound and God the Father is praised. 6. The closing, a strange and mystical passage (OV 87) which contains the voice of Christ speaking to God the Father and describing his wounds from the Crucifixion. This section has all the marks of a procession, which would provide an appropriate conclusion to the play. The drama begins, then, with the male voices of the Patriarchs and Prophets, who actually have very little to sing. Their ques­ tion—“Qui sunt hi, qui ut nubes?** (“Who are these, who come like clouds?** OV 1/1)—will be answered by the Virtues, who say that they are those who “shine with him*’ (“et ideo fulgemus cum illo,** OV 2/4). There are seventeen female personifications of abstract qualities; counting these and the Soul, there are eighteen female roles in all—very nearly the number of nuns (twenty) brought by Hildegard from Disibodenberg to her new convent at Rupertsberg.27 The function of the Virtues is to serve as the handmaidens of God whose glory they share and to introduce the light imagery which Dronke has noted as connecting them to divinity.2* The Patriarchs and Prophets sing in the Dorian mode, utilizing the fourth below the finalis, while the Virtues, using the same mode, emphasize the five notes above the final along with the upper fourth leading to the octave, a setting which places the combined melodies into an expanded form of the Dorian mode in the manner of certain early medieval sequences (see, for example, Victimae paschali in the Uber Usualis, p. 780) which defy encapsulation within the so-called normal limits of the mode. When the Patti-


Audrey Ekdahl Davidson

archs and Prophets reply to the Virtues, they once again underline the latter’s importance and the interrelatedness of Virtues and Patriarchs and Prophets: “Nos sumus radices et vos rami,/ fructus viventis oculi” (“We are the roots and you the branches, the fruit of the living bud [or eye],*’ OV 3/6-7). The Virtues assert their cosmic importance and their spiritual roles: though they are personifications of abstractions, they are also attributes inhering in God and Christ, whom they serve. Yet their own strength and independence are shown in their melody at OV 2/2-5, since they are unwilling to sink to the lower extremity of the* Dorian mode except for briefly touching on the low a near the end of the rejoinder. The Patriarchs and Prophets’ reply to the Virtues in which they make reference to the imagery of root and branch (“Nos sumus radices et vos rami,’’ OV 3/6) will then be in the Phrygian mode, wandering between the lower parts of the mode and the upper—a pattern which is characteristic of Hilde­ gard’s compositions. Certain motifs are repeated in this introductory section: the melismatic motif d’-c '-d ' c'-a c'-d’ e '-f-d ' at the very first word “Qui’’ (sung by the Patriarchs and Prophets) is echoed by the Vir­ tues at “antiqui** and the syllables “-poris’’ from the word “cor­ poris” (OV 2/5). Twice in their short passage the Afirmes present the Hildegardian thumbprint of the rising fifth, in which they alight on the fifth note of the scale and thus, rising by the interval of a fourth to the octave, create a motivic coherence right from the start. The second section opens with the introduction of a group of souls imprisoned within their bodies and complaining. The musical characterization of these complaining Souls Imprisoned in Bodies is done with consummate skill, for they are delineated by a melody which stays close to the e' final but which moves stepwise up and down, back and forth meanderingly to show their wavering and querulous nature. They insist that they ought to be daughters of the King, but now have fallen into the shadow of sin (“sed in umbram peccatorum cecidimus,” OV 4/12). The presentation of the Com­ plaining Souls probably means that at least three more voices (the

Music and Performance


minimum needed to make a blend for the passage) would have been required at the original presentation. Since the total number of twenty nuns brought to Rupertsbeig would be nearly exhausted by the number of singers needed for portraying the Virtues and the Soul, extra voices would very likely have been needed for these roles. In contrast to the complaints of these unhappy souls is the happy singing of the rejoicing Soul, the protagonist of the drama, who at first praises God: “O dulcis Divinitas, et O suavis vita . . . ad te suspiro, et omnes Virtutes invoco” (“O sweet Divinity, O delightful life . . . to you I sigh, and invoke all Virtues,” OV 5/16). Her joyful, positive statements, set in the Dorian mode, are em­ bodied in motifs using the rising fifth at ”0 dulcis” and the char­ acteristically Hildegardian hallmark of the ascending fifth, fol­ lowed by the fourth rising to the octave at ”0 suavis.. . .” When the Soul's mood begins to change and she complains about "gravis labor” ("hard labor”) and "durum pondus” ("heavy weight”) that she carries "in veste huius vite” ("in the garment of this life,” OV 9/26-27), her singing remains in a low tessitura, near the finalis, to reflect the downward pressure of her mortal flesh which she is forced to endure. The melody introduces the interval of an ascend­ ing fourth at "O gravis labor” ("O what hard labor”), at "habeo” from "quod habeo in veste huius vite” ("[O what a heavy weight] that I carry in the garment of this life”), and finally at "-a” of "quia nimis grave michi est contra camem pugnare” ("because it is so hard for me to fight against my body”). However, when the Troubled Soul actually arrives at the last segment of that phrase, those few rising intervals are not merely balanced but are also quite negated by the meandering pattern which travels both down­ ward and upward but mainly stays in a low tessitura, indicating just how indecisive and confused the Soul really is. The Soul’s present emotional state as depicted in the musical setting for her words contrasts sharply with the musical settings representing the Soul as Felix Anima, when the ascending fifth and the interval of the rising fourth or fifth placed above and adjacent to the first fifth dominated the musical material. Now, as the Soul asks to be


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helped to stand (OV 11/33), she sings a beautifully undulating line made up of two groups of five notes rising stepwise (e’-e ’- f quilisma-g’-a*, and g'-a'-a' quilisma-b’-c") and a third group of four notes descending stepwise (a '-g '-f-e ’). Knowledge of God (OV 12/33) urges the Soul to stand firm—“esto stabilis et numquam cades'* (“Be firm and you will never fall'*). In performance, it should be made obvious that the early efforts of Knowledge of God and the other Virtues are to be of little avail. The Soul's ambivalence is seen: on the one hand, she wants to be helped to resist the Devil, but on the other hand she wants to know the de­ lights of the world (OV 16/43-47) and, by extension, the pleasures of the flesh and of the Devil. After the Soul has expressed her wish to enjoy the world, the Devil speaks in a loud and rude voice. He does not sing his words of advice (as already noted, the Devil has no music): “Fatue! fatue! quid prodest tibí laborare?/ Respice mundum, et amplectetur te magno honore** (“Foolish! foolish! what do you gain by exerting yourself in vain?/ 1 X110 your attention to the world, and it will embrace you with great honor,** OV 17/48-49). It is entirely ap­ propriate that the Devil should not be provided with music since this unharmonious and discordant principle of evil should never be represented by harmonious concords. Here the Neoplatonism pointed out in the play by Richard Axton is especially apparent, since the order associated with heaven and the heavenly spheres would be regarded in terms of harmonious tuning, while in con­ trast hell’s sounds are typically dissonant, discordant, and disgust­ ing noises—growling, howling, and other sounds of wild animals.29 The Soul’s fall from grace into sin and degradation is not here made explicit in the text; yet it does indeed take place, for the remainder of the action of the play hangs on this fact In the fore­ ground at this time instead is the conflict between the Virtues and the Devil, the latter offering to give all things to whoever will follow him. Later, the Devil charges (OV 19/39-62) that the Vir­ tues do not know themselves, the implication being that sexual knowledge, which the Virtues lack, is required for self-knowledge. His argument, however, is irrelevant, as Humility implies when she

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refutes the adversary's claims with the statement that they do know with whom they are speaking—“ille antiquus draco" ("that old dragon") whom God threw into the abyss. Their music there­ fore serves to separate the Virtues, whose dwelling is on high, from the non-musical—and therefore unconvincing—representative and source of depravity who, as Lucifer, fell from the heights of heaven. The next section (OV 22-57), in which the Virtues introduce themselves and explain their characteristics, is marked by move­ ment and activity. It includes the segment that Dronke identifies as a “dance."30 The text defines some of the movements: movement toward, as in Humility's "Venite ad me, Virtutes” ("Come to me, Virtues,” OV 22/69); movement away, as in Innocence's "Fugite, oves, spurcicias diaboli!" ("Flee, you sheep, from the filth of the Devil!" OV 39/112); the activity of trampling the world under foot in the statement by the Virtues to Contempt of the World: "O magna virtus, que mundum conculcas" ("O great Virtue, you tread the world under your foot," OV 42/120); and of similar treatment for the old serpent by Victory: “serpentem antiquum conculco” ("I tread the old serpent under my foot," OV 51/143); and movement which encircles and embraces, described by one of the Virtues (probably Discipline, though the name has been scratched out in R):31 "sed semper in regem regum aspicio, et amplector eum in honore altissimo" ("but I always look upon the King of Kings, and I embrace him in the highest honor," OV 45/127-29). The music for this section includes some of the richest and most melismatic of the entire play, as is befitting the exposition and development of the characterization of the Virtues. When Humility announces herself—"Ego Humilitas, regina Virtuturn” ("I, Humility, queen of the Virtues,” OV 22/68)—the syllable "E-” of the word "Ego" is given a melismatic setting of six notes (d '-ef - e ’-d ’-c'), with the remaining syllables of the verbal phrase set relatively syllabically, as if to compensate for the richness and possible immodesty of naming one's self. Humility calls the other Virtues to their coronation in a melodic line which proceeds for the most part syllabically but which elaborates in another display


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of richness on the syllable “-nan-” ) of the word “coronandum” (“[to] crown**). When Humility speaks of the “royal bed­ chamber” in which the daughters (i.e., the Virtues) are kept, the melodic line again blossoms into richly ornamented phrases, “filie” being set to ten notes and “regalia” to eleven (OV 24Z74-75).32 But in this section the song Flos campi (“The flower of the field,*’ OV 38/109-11)33 is the one for which Hildegard has re­ served her most lavish and florid setting. Clyde Brocket! believes that this song appears to be entirely in the transposed Dorian mode “in the manner of certain graduais, most notably Haec dies, where b natural and b flat seem to be virtually interchangeable.”34 This piece, resonant with echoes of the Song o f Songs, compares vir­ ginity to “a sweet flower of the field which will never dry up” (“suavis flos qui numquam aresces”). No word or phrase is un­ touched by melismas. Since Flos campi comes almost at the center of the Ordo Virtutum (as thirty-eighth in a series of eighty-seven items), the piece not surprisingly stands as a high point of the drama. With its rich musical ornamentation like embroidery or interlace ornamentation and its vivid floral imagery, Flos campi is placed within the structure of the drama like the capstone of an arch. In this scene the trampling images, as in the Virtues’ “que mundum conculcas” (“you tread the world under your feet,” OV 42/120) and Modesty’s “atque conculco omnes spurcicias diaboli” (“and tread under my feet all the dirt of the Devil,” OV 47/13233), are set to notes proceeding in a determined manner, soberly and syllabically in stepwise fashion. When one of the Virtues, probably Discipline,33 refers to embracing “the king of kings in highest honor” (OV 45/128-29), the setting for the word “amplector” (“I embrace”), descending to c', does not seem to embody any attempt at word painting, but the setting for “in honore altissimo” begins by soaring to the octave (g'-a'-c"), then descends through the entire octave (c"-b’-a'), hesitating (a -g ’), returning to a', then descending again and finally resolving from below by means of a whole tone: g '-f-e ' d’-c ’-d ’ e' (see Example HI).

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:zr et am - plec tor e and I embrace him in the highest honor.

h o - n o - re



l i g v -------------------- --------- 9 + . W

al -

tis- si


The scene closes with a triumphantly joyful song sung by Humility, in which the Hildegardian thumbprint appears in the setting for “O filie Israhel, sub arbore suscitavit vos Deus; unde in hoc tempore recordamini plantations sue./ Gaudete ergo, filie Sion!” (“O daughters of Israel, God lifted you up from under the tree; whence you at this time remember your own planting./ Re­ joice therefore, daughters of Zion!” OV 57/156-58). Although the words are set in a rather low tessitura, there is no mistaking that this is an exuberant, intense, melismatic melody with a triumphant final cadence. When the Soul returns from her wandering into sin in the fourth section (OV 58-71), she is repentant. Her melody wanders up and down in the Phrygian mode, and, coupled with the lament­ ing words, is affectingly sorrowful. There must be no mistaking the repentance in her manner (and this is the task of the actresssinger and the director to make sure that the proper attitude of penitence is established36). The Virtues, who mourned her depar­ ture and subsequent fall, are still mourning her (“Heu! Heu!” at OV 58/159) at the beginning of this “scene.” However, she now evinces true repentance (OV 59/165); “O ve michi, quia a vobis fiigi” C‘0 woe is me, because from you I fled”). There is an aboutface in their attitude of mourning, and they are now willing to accept her back into their fellowship. However, they still want her


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to make the movement towards diem, and they first advise her, saying, “O fugitive, veni, veni ad nos'* (“O fugitive, come, come to us") and if she does that, God will raise her up ("et Deus suscipiet te," OV 60/165). But the Soul still feels guilty because of her past sins and fears to enter the circle of the Virtues (OV 61/166-67). This is one of the two instances (see also OV 18/51) in which the play slips into the vernacular. The Soul, rather than saying “Heu! Heu!" says, “Ach! Ach! Fervens dulcedo absoibuit me in peccatis et ideo non ausa sua intrate" ("Alas! Alas! A fiery sweetness ab­ sorbed me in my sins, and therefore I dared not enter").37 The Virtues, continuing to encourage her, use the words "Noli timere" ("Fear not, OV 62/168) that echo the synoptic Gospel accounts of Christ's Resurrection.38 At OV 63/170-72, the Soul pleads with the Virtues to lift her up because her wounds have weakened her, the activity suggested in her plea—"suscipiatis”—is represented by a melismatic phrase beginning with the familiar and once again appropriate rising fifth. However, the Virtues, instead of going to help the Soul immediately, advise her to run to them (“Curre ad nos," OV 64/173), perhaps at this point following the good thera­ pist's rule of having the patient do as much for himself or herself as possible. In spite of the encouraging words of the Virtues, the Soul is still too weak to stand alone, as she relates her tale of woe to the Virtues (OV 65/176-82). Continuing to delay, they tell the Soul to "clothe yourself in the armor of light" ("indue te arma lucis,” OV 66/184). The Soul pleads once again (OV 67/185-88), and in this instance she speaks directly to Humility, queen of the Virtues. Humility thereupon addresses the Virtues to ask them to lift or to receive the formerly wayward Soul: "O omnes Virtutes, suscipite lugentem peccatorem" ("O all you Virtues, receive the mourning sinner," OV 68/189). Since a request from Humility has the weight of a command, the Virtues agree to lead the Soul back to blessed­ ness: "Volumus te reducere" (“We are willing to lead you back"). Humility then says, "O misera filia, volo te amplecti, quia magnus medicus dura et amara vulnera propter te passus est" (“O miserable daughter, I wish to embrace you, because the great physician

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[Christ] has suffered painful and bitter wounds on account of you/’ OV 70/195-97). Significantly, all is done in the name of the Great Physician, but the female hands of the Virtues are required to carry out the principles of Christ The musical settings for each of these passages are as follows: when the Virtues lament over the temptation of the Soul (OV 58/159), their words—“Heu! Heu!” (“Alas! Alas!”)—are set to a familiar pattern (e '-f-e ' d’-c ' d'-e' e*), now taking on the ‘characteristics o f a wail. The Soul’s rejoinder to the Virtues (OV 59/161) is in the form of an invocation; the rubric, one of very few such, describes “Querela animam penitentis et uirtutes inuocantis” (“The Soul, lamenting and penitent, invoking the Virtues,” OV 59/161 s.d.). Her invocation demands that she sing in an extremely wide range (d' to gN) and that her voice remain in a high tessitura for much of that passage; perhaps she is representing a strongly emotional reaction produced by her guilt over what she has done and her fear that she will not be accepted—feelings which battle with her hope that she will be foigiven. In contrast, the first tentative invitation of the Virtues to the now penitent Soul is set to a meandering pattern of e '-e '-f quilism a-g '-f-d ’ at the syllables “O fu-gi-” of “O fugitive” (OV 60/165), while the phrases denoting “running” and “lifting” begin with rising fifths—for example, with d -a ' at “Curre” (“run,” OV 64/173). Again, the rising fifth is used at Humility’s “O omnes Virtutes, suscipite lugentem peccatorem in suis cicatricibus propter vulnera Christi” ("O all you Virtues, receive the mourning sinner with her scars for the sake of the wounds of Christ,” OV 68/189). In an alternative musical manner, the idea of “leading” is repre­ sented by a rising fourth from a' to d" outlining the high range of the authentic form of the Dorian mode at “Volumus te reducere” (“We are willing to lead you back,” OV 69/192). Once the Soul is on the way to rehabilitation, the Virtues sing a paean of joy in the Phrygian mode: “O vivens fons, quam magna est suavitas tua” (“O living fountain [i.e., Christ as Savior and fountain of life], how great is your sweetness," OV 71/198). The rising fifth joined to the upper fourth outlining the octave (as noted before, one of Hilde-


Audrey Ekdahl Davidson

gaid’s trademarks) appears in the fourth section several times: twice at OV 62/168-69, when the Virtues tell the Soul not to be afraid; twice at OV 64/173-75, when the Virtues advise the Soul to run to them; and seven times at OV 71/188-208: “O vivens fons" (“O living fountain'*). In the penultimate section (OV 72-86), the Devil, trying to recapture the Soul, insists that he does not understand the Soul's turning against him: "Sed nunc in reversione tua confundís me" (“But now in your turning back you confuse me") and threatens to harm her bodily: “Ego autem pugna mea deiciam te!" (“But I will hurl you down with my assault,” OV 72/210-11). As usual these words are emitted (not sung) as a growl, a howl, or a shrieking shout The penitent Soul then resists bravely with the words “o illusor, pugno contra te" (“O deceiver, I fight against you," OV 73/213)—words set syllabically to underline the new determination of the Soul. Humility will now address Victory directly regarding the action that is to come: “O Victoria, que istum in celo superasti, curre cum militibus tuis, et omnes ligate diabolum hune" (“O Victory, who conquered that one [the Devil] in heaven, hasten with your knights, and all of you bind that Devil," OV 75/215-17). Although rubrics providing stage directions are lacking here, these words are clearly indicative of the action that Hildegard had in mind. But there is something a trifle odd about this particular directive: the Virtues are referred to as “knights" (in the phrase “cum militibus tuis”); then, at OV 76/218-19, Victory also ad­ dresses the Virtues as “milites" (“knights") as she enlists their aid in binding the Devil. The Virtues reply to Victory that they will join the battle against the Devil, but in their affirmation they ad­ dress Victory as “O dulcissima bellatrix" (“O fairest warrior," fem­ inine gender, OV 77/220).39 The music for this scene is marked by the rising fifth-added upper fourth “thumbprint” at Humility’s “O Victoria” (OV 75/215) and by the rising fifth at the first word, “O" of the phrase “O fortissimi et gloriosissimi milites, venite, et adiuvate me istum fallacem vincere," Victory’s address to the Virtues to invite them to the battle (“O you most brave and most glorious knights, come

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and help me to conquer that deceitful one,*' OV 76/218-19). The last word, **vincere,** of the latter phrase is given a final-sounding Dorian cadence, the c' resolving to the d' a whole step above it; this musical setting shows Victory’s resoluteness in her effort to vanquish the Devil. With the words “nos libenter militamus tecum contra illusorem hunc” (“we willingly fight with you against that deceiver," OV 77/222-23) the Virtues demonstrate their singleness of purpose in the fight against the Evil One. That phrase of affir­ mation ends with a d’-e ’ Phrygian cadence, again showing resolve. The rising fifth appears again at the beginning of Humility's speech when she orders the “shining Virtues” to bind the Devil (“Ligate ergo istum, o virtutes preciare!" OV 78/224). And at the end of Humility's speech is found an f-e '-d ’-c '-d ' cadence, an ornamented yet strong cadence ending a stirring speech which not only gives the Virtues license to bind the Devil but actually com­ pels them to do so. The next item (OV 79/225-26), in which the Virtues affirm their obedience, also ends with the strong f - e 'd’-c ’-d ' cadence. At the binding of the Devil, Victory’s song of rejoicing (OV 80/227) rings out freely in a high tessitura; sung at the written pitch as adjusted for female voices, this is one of the most glorious moments in all of medieval music-drama. The mood here is that of unrestrained joy, high and “lifted up" in ecstatic exultation. In this passage of praise and thanksgiving for the final defeat of the Devil, the words and the notes setting the words are transcribed in Example IV. This entire passage outlines the G mode (VII) transposed up a fourth. The manuscript adds one b flat, and I have added editorially a b flat to the b nearest it since it is in the same system.

Audrey Ekdahl Davidson





an - ti


In the remainder of the scene the level of tension is clearly reduced after that climactic point of Victory’s joyful shout. There is, however, one more ugly outburst from the bound Devil, who has been rendered ineffectual by reason of his chains. His outburst repeats his earlier diatribe against the chaste Virtues because of their empty wombs: Tu nescis quid colis, quia venter tuus vacuus est pulcra forma de viro sumpta, ubi transis preceptúan quod Deus in suavi copula precepit: unde nescis quid sis. (OV 83/235-37) (You know not what you bring forth, because your womb is empty of any fair form taken from man, wherein you transgress the command of pleasant intercourse which God commanded; wherefore you know not what you are.)

Again, as noted above, the Devil cannot sing, and so one proof of the Virtues’ worth comes in their ability to sing and to plead the correctness of their chastity through music. Celibacy was, of course, regarded from the earliest period of Christianity to be superior to marriage,40 and the chaste life was a monastic ideal

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which Hildegard and her nuns intended unquestioningly to affirm in the Ordo Virtutum. The final section of the play is a single item (In principio, OV 87/252-69), which appears to be processional in nature. The text, which almost defies explanation, begins with an invocation of the beginning of time when “all creatures grew and flourished.” The musical setting uses melismata extensively with the object of pro­ viding an appropriate and even impressive setting for the mystical words closing the play. The concluding words of the drama, es­ pecially the final word, “porrigat” (“to reach out,” or “to stretch out”), are set to music which may be described as early word painting. Hildegard attempts to provide melodic form which re­ flects words that describe the reaching out of Christ to his people in love—words that simultaneously remind us of his being stretched out on the cross, fatigued, as he says, “Nam me fatigat, quod omnia membra mea in irrisionem vadunt" (“Now it wearies me, so that all my members become a mockery”), and with all of his wounds exposed: “Pater, vide, vulnera mea tibi ostendo” (“Father, see, I show my wounds to you”). When we turn from the music to the question of the staging of the Ordo Virtutum, we are able to appreciate even more fully the visionary power of Hildegard. The key to her concepts of staging and costuming would seem to be found in her own work— to be specific, in her SciviasS1 In this book she describes her vi­ sions of the City of God and those arrayed on the side of the deity, including the Virtues. In the miniatures which illustrate the Scivias (drawn from descriptions therein and produced contemporaneously with the book), each of the Virtues is depicted with her own spe­ cial garment and/or attributes—e.g., Fear of God has a garment made all of eyes, Discipline has a purple garment which protects her from sinful lusts. Victory is armed, and Humility wears a golden crown.42 Humility also wears a mirror on her breast in which Christ's image is reflected.43 From the standpoint of staging it may be asserted that there should be no reason for rejecting Hildegard’s own conceptions concerning the appearance of the


Audrey Ekdahl Davidson

Virtues and their costumes. In modem productions of the Ordo it would seem utteily perverse to set aside these ideas in favor of, for example, garbing the Virtues in American Civil War uniforms, al­ though recently there have been such trendily perverse productions of early drama and of operas based on classical tales. For other aspects of staging we again look to Hildegard her­ self, who was not without definite ideas about the appearance of her mystical landscape. Here the leap from the Scivias is not a large one, as the subject matter of this work will show. In her introductory vision in the Scivias, she shows a hill on which God is enthroned, with one of the Virtues, Timor Dei (Fear of God), standing at the bottom. Later, Hildegard sees the structure of God’s domain also as a city, with walls corresponding to the vari­ ous epochs in history since the Creation and towers which repre­ sent spiritual entities and within which some of the Virtues are residing. Thus the director of the play would seem to have a choice with regard to the basic set, which might be a simple “mound” or raised area with Humility seated on it, or a more elaborate construction resembling walls and towers. A third pos­ sibility emerges from another vision which involves a ladder de­ scending from God’s abode, by means of which the Virtues are able to come down to the earthly level or to re-ascend.44 Indeed, the whole drama could be staged at the bottom of the spiritual ladder, with the Soul approaching the ladder when she is in her happy condition and fleeing from the area of the ladder when she is in the unhappy condition of going astray. Such a view is, however, admittedly speculative, and in the Society for Old Music production described by Clifford Davidson in the present volume a more simple approach to staging was adopted because of budget­ ary restrictions and careful consideration of the architectural setting that served as locus for the play. Mention has been made above of some of the actions sug­ gested by the text of the drama which include the Soul’s leaving the scene to signify her downfall, the motions signifying the trampling down of the world in the so-called dance of the Virtues along with some circling, embracing motions also in that section,

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and the capturing and binding of Satan. Otherwise it seems to me that a rather classical and static staging would be entirely appro­ priate, utilizing the calm, stately motions of lituigical practice. Even these brief and sketchy suggestions, indicating a close relationship between the visions of the Scivias and the staging of die Ordo, will reveal the depth of Hildegard’s imagination—an imagination that crafted music, poetry, drama, and word-pictures into a coherent vision of the condition of humankind. Her musical settings, carefully reflecting the characterizations of her dramatis personae as well as the dramatic situation of the play, were a very important part of this artistically integrated vision. In short, we find in the Ordo Virtutum a work that is strong in every sense— visually, musically, theatrically—and hence it is a work worthy of further scholarly scrutiny and especially of being realized in per­ formance before modem audiences.

APPENDIX The existing manuscripts containing the music of Hildegard of Bingen are the early but incomplete Dendermonde Benedictine Abbey MS. 9; Hessische Landesbibliothek MS. 2 (R); and the litde-known British Library Add. MS. 15,102. The Dendermonde manuscript contains only fifty-eight of the spiritual songs of Hil­ degard and not the Ordo Virtutum, R includes both the songs and the Ordo, and Add. MS. 15,102 contains the play only. R, de­ scribed above and representing a faithful copy produced during the decade following Hildegard’s death, was perhaps, as noted above, made from a now lost manuscript of c.1151 or at least from the decade 1150-60. On the other hand, the British Library manuscript was copied much later, in 1487, at the order of Johannes Trithemius (1462-1516), Abbot of Sponheim, from a manuscript apparently borrowed from the library at Bingen—a manuscript which may have been R.43 Trithemius’ interest in Hildegard has been noted by Barbara Newman, who finds him to be “One of the most interesting fig­


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ures” of his time; according to Newman, Trithemius “rekindled Hildegard’s fame and in some ways resembled her.**46 He was a great humanist scholar who, following his election as Abbot of Sponheim at the age of twenty-one, began the collection of books which by the time of his departure from the monastery numbered approximately two thousand volumes acquired at the cost of bet­ ween 1500 and 2000 gulden.47 Upon his arrival at the monastery, he had found not only an establishment in great disarray but also a library o f merely forty volumes, including only ten manuscripts.4* His additions to the Sponheim library were regarded as remark­ able, both in quantity and quality. An examination of British Library Add. MS. 15,102 reveals that, in the light of the errors made in the musical transcription when it was copied at Sponheim,49 the only possible judgment is that the single reliable existing manuscript of the music of the Ordo Virtutum is contained in R. Yet it is hard to fault the scribe of the British Library manuscript without knowing the circum­ stances of its transcription. Was the scribe well-meaning but ig­ norant, particularly with regard to the archaic style of musical notation in the manuscript which was his source? Or were errors due to incompetence on the part of the scribe? In any case, the British Library manuscript of the Ordo was copied at Sponheim from a borrowed manuscript, either R or another copy that has been lo st A note in the British Library manuscript, apparently in Trithemius* own handwriting, indicates that the copying was done by members of his Order.90 British Library Add. MS. 15,102 is a quarto volume, written on paper.91 The music notation is clearly an attempt to replicate the notation of the source manuscript, which, as noted above, was perhaps R. The Ordo Virtutum appears on fols. 207r-221r, and is followed by blank pages, in turn followed by the Vita Sr. Hildegar­ d s, cum visionibus et ntiraculis ejus; in tres libros distincta; opus a Godefrids incoeptum. Trithemius’ note affixed to the volume gives the date of the copying— 1487, as noted above. A com­ parison of the musical transcriptions in R and in this manuscript demonstrates that the later scribe was unable to cope with Hilde-

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ganTs unique musical style or even to reproduce the characteristic tonalities in his presentation of the music of the Ordo Virtutum.

NOTES 1. Hildegard, Vila, as quoted in translation by Peter Dionke, Women Writers o f the M iddle Ages (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1984), p. 14S; for the Latin text, see ibid., p. 232. 2. Peter Dionke, Poetic Individuality in the Middle Ages (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1970), pp. 169-92. 3. The text (but not the music) of the Ordo Virtutum had been edited by Joannes Baptism Pitra (Analecta Sacra [1882; rpt Famborough: Gregg Press, 1966], VIII, 457-65). Josef Gmelch published a facsimile of the Symphonia, including the Ordo Virtutum, from the Riesenkodex in 1913 (D ie Kompositionen der heil. Hildegard nach dem grossen Hilde­ gardkodex in Wiesbaden [Düsseldorf, 1913], pp. 37-47). See also especially Ludwig Broñarski, D ie Lieder der hl. Hildegard: Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte der geistlichen Musik des M ittelalters (Leipzig: Breitkopf und Hirtel, 1922), and Der heiligen Hildegard von Bingen, Reigen der Tugenden: Ordo Virtutum: Ein Singspiel, ed. Maure Böckeler (Berlin: Sankt Augustinus Verlag, 1927). 4. Karl Young, The Drama o f the Medieval Church (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1933), 2 vols.; William L Smoldon, The Music o f the Medieval Church Dramas, ed. Cynthia Bourgeault (London: Oxford Univ. Press, 1980); Susan Rankin, "liturgical Drama," in The Early Middle Ages to 1300 , ed. Richard Crocker and David Hiley, New Oxford History of Music, 2 (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 1990), pp. 310-56. It should be noted in all fairness that Smoldon was working on his book at the time of his death in 1974 and that he left the notes to the volume essentially unfinished. In contrast, a study which takes full account of the Ordo Virtutum is Richard Axton, European Drama o f the Early M iddle Ages (London: Hutchinson, 1974), pp. 94-99. 5. See my performing edition: Hildegard von Bingen, Ordo Virtutum, ed. Audrey Ekdahl Davidson (Kalamazoo: Medieval Institute Publications, 1984); citations to the play in this paper are for convenience to this edition (references are to item numbers, with the addition of line numbers from Dronke*s edition in Poetic Individuality, pp. 180-92), though I have in some cases re-transcribed the musical notation. My performing edition, as noted in the Acknowledgments above, was first prepared for the Society for Old Music production in May of 1984, and has been used for a number of performances by other troupes, including the Seed and Feed Company under the direction of Kelly Morris in Atlanta, Georgia. A beautiful and affecting recording of the play has been recorded by Sequentia (Harmonia Mundi 1C165-00), which has also staged the play in both Europe and the United Sutes. The voices (especially Barbara Thornton as the Soul) are most convincing, but the instrumental interludes are somewhat too "south European" to seem right for the Rhine valley.


Audrey Ekdahl Davidson

6. 105-35.

For the musical transcription, see Hildegard von Bingen, Reigen der Tugenden, pp.

7. Ibid., pp. 100-01. 8. For a convenient explanation of the letter notation that I have adopted, see Willi Apel, Harvard Dictionary o f Music, 2nd ed. (Cambridge: Harvard Univ. Press, 1969), p. 467. In this system, middle c is labeled c'. 9. See Cynthia Bourgeault, “Liturgical Dramaturgy,” Comparative Drama, 17 (1983), 125-28, regarding the need to allow a liturgical drama space and time to “breathe” back and forth between ritual and theater. 10. Hildegard von Bingen, Lieder, ed. Pudentiana Barth, Maria-Immaculata Ritcher, and Joseph Schmidt-Görg (Salzburg: Otto Müller, 1969), pp. 165-205. 11. Hildegard, Scivias, ed. Adelgundis Führkötter and Angela Carlevaris, Corpus Christianonmi, Continuado Mediaevalis, 43-43A fRimhoul: Brepols, 1978), II, 621-29; Scivias, trans. Columba Hart and Jane Bishop, introd. Barbara Newman (New York: Paulist Press, 1990), pp. 529-33. For the miniatures, see also Adelgundis Führkötter, The Miniatures from the Book Scivias o f St. Hildegard o f Bingen from the Illuminated Rupertsberg Codex

(Ibmhout: Brepols, 1977). 12. See also Newman, Introduction, in Scivias, trans. Hart and Bishop, p. 26. 13. See Pamela Sheingom, “The Virtues of Hildegards Ordo Virtutum," pp. 51-57, below. 14. Marianna Schrader and Adelgundis Führkötter, Die Echtheit des Schrifttums der heiligen Hildegard von Bingen (Cologne: Böhlau-Veriag, 1956), pp. 154-79. 15. Und., pp. 177-78; see also Dronke, Poetic Individuality, p. 152. 16. On St Gall and related neuntes, see Dorn Eugène Cardine, Gregorian Semiology, trans. Robert M. Fowels (Solesmes: Abbaye Saint Pierre de Solesmes, 1982), pp. 11-16 and passim. Bronarski, Die Lieder, p. 14, designates the neuntes as “gothic,” but I now recognize that that term is properly reserved for a later style of notation. For a brief and useful description of Hildegards neuntes as they occur in the Dendermonde manuscript, see Peter van PóuckéS Introduction to Hildegard of Bingen, Symphoniae Harmonice Caelestium Revelationum (Peer Alamire, 1991), pp. 11-12. 17. Ian Bent, “Hildegard of Bingen,” in The New Grove Dictionary o f Music and Musicians, ed. Stanley Sadie (London: Macmillan, 1980), VIII, 554. It should be noted that Bent erroneously dtes the Ordo Virtutum as being excluded from the Wiesbaden manuscript (R) when, as the present article demonstrates, R is in fact the only authentic source extant for the Ordo. 18. Robert Cogan, “Hildegards Fractal Antiphon,” unpublished paper read at the Twenty-Sixth International Congress on Medieval Studies, 10 May 1991.

M usic and Performance


19. Brananld, DU Lieder, pp. 44-45. 20. Prudentius, ed. and Ivans. H. J. Thomson, Loeb Classical Libraiy (Cambridge: Hawaid Univ. Press, 1949), pp. 274-343; see also Adolf Kaizenellenbogen, Allegories o f the Virtues am i Vices in M ediaeval Art, Irans. Alan J. P. Crick (1939; rpt New Yoik: W. W. Norton, 1964), pp. 1-13, 42-44, and passim. 21. Prudentius, inns. Thomson, p. 281 (italics mine). 22. Katzenellenbogen, Allegories o f the Virtues and Vices, passim. 23. For the playing of male roles Hildegard could have drawn on one of her several male amanuenses, including Guibeit of Gembloux, who promulgated the notion that Hil­ degard was the tenth child in her family and thus the one to be given to the Church as a tithe (see Sabina Flanagan, Hildegard o f Bingen, 1098-1179: A Visionary U fe [London: Routledge, 1989], p. 23y, Vobnar, fini her teacher and later her secretary, pictured with Hildegard in what is undoubtedly the best known of the miniatures from Sciviar, and WezeUn, her nephew, who, in the decade following Hildegard's death, oversaw the copying of the Wiesbaden manuscript, which includes the Symphonia and the Ordo Virtutum. 24. In his 1972 translation of the Ordo Virtutum, Bruce Hozeski suggested that there are two Souls, one happy and one sad (“‘Ordo Virtutum*: Hildegard of Bingen's Liturgical Morality Play," Annuals M ediaevale, 13 [1972], 45-69). Instead, the Soul should be seen as one, and she simply is shown in different guises: as happy, sad, penitent, and being healed by the medicine that the Virtues offer and through the blood of the Son of God. The Virtues then are able to receive the Soul back into their fellowship (OV 65-71). The welcominghelping scene can be interpreted as the feminist ideal of the way women ought to assist other women, but I prefer to leave ideology aside and to remain with a purely musicologicaldramatic analysis in this paper. On the point of the single vs. double Soul, see Peter Dronke, “Problemata Hildegardiana,** M ittellateinisches Jahrbuch, 16 (1981), 102-03. 25. Reinhold Hammerstein, Diabolus in Música (Bern: Francke Verlag, 1974), p. 17 and passim According to Hammerstein, devils “are either silent or they can shriek, scrape, hiss, and, if need be, speak, but they can never sing9' (p. 17; translation mine); he thus notes the appropriateness of the non-singing Devil in the Ordo Virtutum Gf. Bronarski, D ie U eder, who thinks that the absence of music for the Devil is due to Hildegard's inability to find suitable music (p. 46). A somewhat more complicated picture emerges in the later vernacular drama; see Richard Rastall, “The Sounds of Hell,** in The Iconography o f Hell, ed. Clifford Davidson and Thomas Seiler, Early Drama, Art, and Music, Monograph Ser., 17 (Kalamazoo: Medieval Institute Publications, 1992), pp. 102-31. 26. Dronke, Poetic Individuality, p. 174. 27. Dronke, Women W riters, p. 153. 28. Ibid., p. 171. 29. Axton, European Drama o f the Early Middle Ages, p. 96. Two illustrations in Hildegard's Scivias show the sounding of the heavenly harmony; see Führkötter, The Minia­


Audrey Ekdahl Davidson

tures. Pis. 9, 35. See also John Hollander, The Untuning o f the Sky (Princeton: Princeton Univ. Piets, 1961), passim , for a study which demonstrates how such ideas extended to the

seventeenth centuiy. 30. Dronlce, Poetic Individuality, pp. 174-75; see also Axton, European Drama o f the Early Middle Ages, pp. 96-97. 31. “Disciplina" is silently inserted in the edition of Böckeler and Barth (Reigen der Tugenden, p. 118); this figure seems to be the most likely of the Virtues to sing at this point in the play. In the copy of the Ordo Virtutum in British Ubraiy Add. MS. 15,102 the speaker is identified as “Caritas"; Dronke rightly notes that “she, like Castitas [Pitta’s emendation], has already declared herself" (Poetic Individuality, p. 186n). 32. Richness and ornamentation in music should not surprise us since we know that in dress Hfldegaid’s nuns were not at all restrained by their holy order, they were accused of wearing ostentatious finely, including crowns or tiaras; see the comments of Robert Potter, Pamela Sheingom, and Julia Bolton Holloway, pp. 34-35, 55-56, 67, below. 33. Bronarslú insists upon calling this piece an “aria" (Die Lieder, p. 44). 34. Unpublished remarks (personal correspondence). 35. See a 31, above. 36. In the Society for Old Music production in 1984, I depended on the dramatic director for all blocking, movement, gestures, and acting decisions. While this production was intentionally stylized, influenced strongly by the liluigy in which Hildegard was steeped, the singer-actresses at times very much identified themselves with the parts they were portraying. Some effects occurred naturally and without planning; for example, more than one member of the audience commented on the tears in the eyes of the singer-actress Fay Smith, who played the Soul. She entered the role so completely that acting and feeling were one. 37. In OV 18 it is the Virtues rather than the Soul who use the German “Achí Achí" 38. The Virtues’ words, “Noli timere" (“Fear not," OV 62/168), resonate with tones from the Resurrection accounts in the synoptic Gospels. In Matthew 28.5, the angel (in this case a single angel) says to the two women, Mary Magdalene and “the other Mary": “nolite timere vos" (“Fear not you"); and again, in Matthew 28.10, the women meet Jesus, who says to them, “Nolite timere" (“Fear not"). At Mark 16.5-6, “a young man . . . clothed with a white robe," presumably an angel, says to Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome, “nolite expavescere" (“Be not affrighted"). Luke 24.4-10 identifies “two men" (presumably angels) and three women (in this instance Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Maty [the mother of] James), but there are no words explicitly telling the women not to be afraid. 39. On the question of Hildegard’s ambivalence toward the female gender, see Bar­ bara Newman, Sister o f Wisdom: St. H ildegards Theology o f the Feminine (Berkeley and Los Angeles: Univ. of California Press, 1987), pp. 1-41, esp. 2,37.

M usic and Performance


40. See “Matrimony,9*The Oxford Dictionary o f the Christian Church, 2nd ed., ed. F. L. Croîs and E. A. Livingstone (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 1974), p. 889. 41. Seen. 1 1 ,above. 42. Katzenellenbogen, Allegories o f the Virtues and Vices, p. 43; Führkötter, The Miniatures from the Book Scivias, Pis. 2,27,29, 31, and passim. 43. Noted by Katzenellenbogen, Allegories e fth e Virtues and Vices, p. 44. 44. Fabricator, The Miniatures from the Book Scivias, PL 29. See also KatzeneQenbogen, Allegories o f the Virtues and Vices, who shows a twelfth-century drawing from Herrad of Landsberg's Hortus Deliciarum which illustrates the Ladder of Virtue (fig. 25). For further commentary, see Gérard Carnes, Allegories et symboles dans t Hortus Deliciarum (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1971), pp. 88-90. 45. Catalogue o f Additions to the Manuscripts, 1841-1845 , VII, No. 15,102; this catalogne claims, without documentation, that the manuscript from which British Library Add. MS. 15,102 was copied was “said to have been written by S t Hildegard herself.“ 46. Newman, Sister c f Wisdom, pp. 259-60. 47. James Westfall Thompson, The M edieval Library (rpt. New York: Hafner, 1957), p. 465. In spite of his remarkable achievement, Trithemius’ relations with his monks were often strained, and he was eventually forced to resign from the abbacy of Sponheim in 1508; see R. W. Seton-Watson, “The Abbot Trithemius,“ in Tudor Studies Presented by the Board o f Studies in H istory in the University o f London to Albert Frederick Pollard , ed. R. W. Seton-Watson (1924; rpt Freeport, N.Y.: Books for Libraries Press, 1969), pp. 78-79; Noel L. Brann, The Abbot Trithemius (1462-1516): The Renaissance o f Monastic Humanism (Leiden: B. J. Brill, 1981), pp. 46-53. 48. Thompson, The M edieval Library, p. 464. As Trithemius lamented, there was for practical purposes upon his arrival at Sponheim “no library because the uncouth monks pursued, not books, but delicious pastimes and pleasures“ (quoted by Brann, The Abbot Trithemius, p. 11). 49. The text in British Library Add. MS. 15,102 is collated with R in the edition by Dronke, Poetic Individuality, pp. 180-92; for a comparison of the music of the British Library manuscript and R, see Audrey Ekdahl Davidson, “Another Manuscript of the Ordo Virtutum of Hildegard von Bingen,“ Early Drama, Art, and Music Review, 13 (1991), 38-39, Exs. 1-2. 50. See Catalogue o f Additions to the Manuscripts, VH, No. 15,102. 51. Normally Trithemius preferred parchment over paper, which he considered imper­ manent; see Curt F. BOhler, The Fifteenth-Century Book (Philadelphia: Univ. of Pennsyl­ vania Press, 1960), p. 35.

The Ordo Virtutum : Ancestor of the English Moralities? Robert Potter Hildegard of Bingen’s Ordo Virtutum (c.1151) is one of the masterpieces of medieval music drama and arguably the first mo­ rality play, but it has been shamefully neglected by generations of scholars. My book The English Morality Play, an unfortunate case in point, mentions the Ordo Virtutum only in a hurried footnote. It is hardly exceptional; such standard authorities as Karl Young, E. K. Chambers, Ernst Curtius, O. B. Hardison, Jr., Fletcher Collins, Jr., and William L. Smoldon seem to have been unaware of Hil­ degard and her play’s existence.1 In die recent years, however, thanks both to the scholarship of Peter Dronke and new critical sensitivity to the artistic achieve­ ments o f women in the Middle Ages, Hildegard of Bingen has emerged spectacularly from her post-medieval obscurity. We see Hildegard today as a brilliant twelfth-century renaissance figure, a lyrical mystic who not merely set down her visions poetically (with papal blessing), but also corresponded with the great public figures of the day (Frederick Barbarossa and Eleanor of Aquitaine, among others), composed music, and wrote learned treatises on medicine, ethics, natural history, and cosmology.2 It is equally imperative now that we give Hildegard *s dramatic work the atten­ tion it deserves—and that we consider the possible connections between her music drama and the subsequent moralities. Placed by her aristocratic family in a convent at the age of eight, Hildegard of Bingen spent the test of her life as a cloistered nun, much of it as abbess of her own convent in the Rhineland, near where she had been bom in 1098. For the use of her nuns, she composed a remarkable liturgical song cycle of seventy-seven 31


Robeit Potter

pieces—sequences, hymns, antiphons—-completed about 1151 and entitled Symphonia armonie celestium revelationem, “The Sym­ phony of the Harmony of Heavenly Revelations." It concludes with a liturgical music drama, the Ordo Virnaum, which doubtless also was intended for performance by the nuns. The subject of the play is highly unusual for a liturgical drama; indeed, it is unique, for it presents no biblical event, saint's life, or miracle, but instead it contains an allegorical struggle between personified virtues and the Devil over the destiny o f a human soul. Both the theme and form of the Ordo Virtutum show a marked resemblance to the later moralities. Audrey Ekdahl David­ son, the Ordo’s most recent editor,3 divides its structure into six parts (see pp. 8-9, above). There is (1) an introduction that opens with the identification of the Virtues to a group of Patriarchs and Prophets, and this is followed by: (2) the entry and seduction of the Soul by the Devil; (3) a “sem e" which reveals the Virtues’ characteristics; (4) the Soul’s return and repentance; (5) the bind­ ing of the Devil and praise of God the Father, and (6) a final procession. Thus a full two hundred years before the earliest ver­ nacular morality texts, we have a dramatic confrontation between forces of personified good and evil. Further, it is not in the epic form of an allegorical combat, as in Prudentius’ Psychomachia, but rather in the dramatic form of a contest for the allegiance of a mutable human entity. The Soul, pure and yet tom by conflicting impulses, is beguiled by the Devil into sin, but eventually comes to repent and be embraced by the Virtues. The similarity of the Ordo to plays such as The Castle o f Perseverance, Mankind, and Wisdom begins with its focus on the progress of the Soul from innocence into sin and on to repentance—the pattem of action which embodies the definitive structure of the later vernacular moralities. Repentance is the defining theme and action of all these plays, and the Ordo assuredly enacts a similar dramatic message. Like the later moralities, the Ordo has a largely allegorical cast of characters—personified virtues, a central figure or figures who will epitomize the human condition, and the Devil as tempter. It would be reasonable to conclude, genetically speaking, that the

Ancestor o f the English M oralities?


Ordo Virtutum is the twelfth-century ancestor of the later ver­ nacular moralities, in the sense that the liturgical Quern quaeritis has been claimed as the ancestor of the Corpus Christi cycles and Passion plays. However, there are good and even necessary grounds for resisting such a conclusion. Hardison and other critics have shown the dangers of employing biological analogies to trace the relation­ ships of literary texts—which are not evolving species of wild animals but constructions of human ingenuity and artifice.4 This applies particulaiiy to the uncertain corpus of medieval dramatic texts, where so much o f what once was is now unimaginably lo st While it is fascinating to find Hildegard and the author of The Castle o f Perseverance both poising the soul in a moral dilemma, between the protective virtues and a seductive Devil, there is no reason to assume that these texts were not developed entirely in­ dependently of one another. And the fact is that the differences between HUdegard’s work and the plays of the later tradition prove to be far more striking than the superficial similarities. The cast of characters of the Ordo Virtutum, for example, is quite unlike that of any extant morality play. It features no fewer than sixteen personified female Virtues, commanded by a very exalted Queen Humility. This contingent of Virtues is arrayed against a single and badly outnumbered opponent, die Devil. The situation is very much the reverse of that in The Castle o f Per­ severance, where there are five scaffolds of power: four for the World, the Flesh, and the Devil and the vice Covetousness, and only one for God. The moral and ethical balance of power (not to mention the rhetorical ambience) could hardly be more different The Ordo is written in twelfth-century Latin verse of an order which Dronke praises for “a visionary concentration and an evoca­ tive and associative richness that set it apart from nearly all other religious poetry of its age."3 The opening is mystical and majestical, with the chorus of Patriarchs and Prophets expressing their amazement at the celestial sight of the assembled Virtues, ap­ pearing like mysterious clouds before them. Recognizing their own ascendants in the cosmic order (“We are the roots and you the


R oheit Potter

branches . . . , ’* OV 3/6),6 the Patriarchs and Prophets step aside as the procession of Souls appears, pleading for divine insight and invoking the Virtues. Philosophically, we ate in a world of esoteric and mystical neo-Platonism, as Richard Axton points out, in which familiar lessons of redemption are cloaked in numinous emanations of radiance.7 Musically, we are enveloped in a modal formulaic structure o f alternating solo and choral response, with “melodies rendered both melismatically and syllabically” in a liturgical style which musicologists find distinctively Hildegardian; this music, as we know know from live performance and recordings, is truly celestial.1 So transported, we are at a vast aesthetic distance from the earthy world of Mankind, with its blasphemous horseplay and scatological “Christmas song.** The lofty tone of the Ordo Virtutum—its philosophical, musi­ cal, and poetic elevation, and the overpowering predominance of Virtue in the dramatis personae—may logically be attributed to the distinctive atmosphere of Hildegard's convent at Rupertsberg, a most extraordinary twelfth-century locality. Its eccentricities, which were those of its none-too-humble abbess Hildegard, are well documented. It was by design an elite, aristocratic, and fe­ male-dominated environment Hildegard, inspired by a vision (as was her custom), had led her nuns to a solitary location, aban­ doning a previous foundation which had been shared by a com­ munity of monks. The nuns had departed despite the violent op­ position of the monks, since Hildegard had taken the monastery's considerable financial endowment with her. The community was composed of “twenty girls of noble and wealthy parentage.''9 Deaf to reminders that Christ had chosen fishermen as disciples, Hil­ degard would admit only refined young women of her own social class to the community. There, despite the mockery of outsiders and her own unending illnesses (she suffered from persistent mi­ graine, among other physical and mental symptoms), Hildegard created and ruled her own world. Rumors circulated of strange observances, and Hildegard wrote to correspondents pointing out that virgins, being more holy than married women, deserved to dress more elegantly. She con­

Ancestor o f the English M oralities?


firmed that her nuns did indeed dress on feast days in white bridal veils, and that they wore rings and tiaras. She explained: So I saw that this would be the emblem of virginity: that a virgin's head would be covered with a white veil, because of the radiant-white robe that human beings had in paradise, and lo st On her head would be a circlet (rota) with three colors conjoined into one—an image of the Trinity—and four roundels attached: the one on the forehead showing the lamb of God, that on the right a cherub, that on the left an angel, and on the bade a human being—all these inclining toward the [figure o f the] Trinity. This emblem, granted to me, will proclaim blessings to God, because he had clothed the first man in radiant brightness.1'

Such was mortification of the flesh in the Rhineland in the twelfth century. We have a good idea of the costumes worn by the Virtues in the Ordo because Hildegard not merely described how she ima­ gined the personified Virtues, in her visionary work Scivias, but also wem on to supervise the design of illuminations which depict them precisely. Indeed, the link of the Ordo Virtutum with Scivias is closer than has been previously suggested by Dronke and others, for there is a shortened variant text of the Ordo incoiporated into the final vision of this work. And the illuminations of the Vir­ tues—including Fear of God, Divine Love, Discipline, Modesty, Obedience, Mercy, and Wisdom—are majestical, as everyone who has seen them, from Goethe to the present, seems to agree.11 Against such an array of high-bom holy women, radiantly garbed and harmonious, how would the Devil stand a chance? Just to be certain, Hildegard, who had obviously never heard the pro­ verbial injunction that the Devil has all the good tunes, gives him in the Ordo no tunes at all. The Devil is directed by the script (reinforced by a lack of a score) to shout his oaths and temptations rather than to sing them seductively. Obeying the neo-Platonic decorum o f things, if music be the imitation of divine harmony, then the Devil can have none of it whatsoever. That he nevertheless succeeds, and persuades one unhappy


Robert Potter

soul to abandon the Virtues and seek worldly success, shows that Hildegard is willing to give the Devil his due, theologically speak­ ing. But now a most interesting choice is made; where every mo­ rality play takes this occasion in the drama to follow humanity into a life of sin, observing and enacting the lurid details of human degradation, Hildegard will have none of i t The Soul escapes the Virtues and exits. Whatever depravities it may commit will remain offstage and go unreported. Instead, we are presented with a cele­ bration of Virtue as the remaining assembled figures, led by Queen Humility, manifest and praise their attributes, taking parts in what Dronke and Axton conclude must be a cosmic dance.12 Here is a sample of one chorus—a chorus which Audrey Davidson has iden­ tified above as musically “the richest and most florid piece in this section**: Flos campi cadit vento, pluvia spargit eum. O Virginitas, tu permanes in symphoniis supemorum civium: unde es suavis flos qui num quam aresces. (OV 38/109-11) (The flower of the field yields to the wind, the rain sprinkles i t O Virginity, you abide in the harmonies o f the celestial city, wherefore you are a sweet flower which will never dry up.)

In terms of music, this episode is the dominant centerpiece of the Ordo VirtututK, it occupies about half of the published score, though it is dramatically a fairly static scene, with only a single snarl of derision from the Devil to punctuate the otherwise general encomium to Virtue. Here we find a fundamental divergence from the characteristics of a morality play. At heart, the Ordo Virtutum is a lyrical celebration of Hildegard *s monastic ideal rather than a dramatization of the uncertain pilgrimage of a human soul. Though certainly not a closet drama, the Ordo is quintessential^ a cloister drama, rooted in its own splendid isolation from the snares of the world.

Ancestor o f the English M oralities?


Nevertheless, as a dramatic statement it is intensely personal, possibly even autobiographical, as Julia Bolton Holloway will also argue in her paper in the present book (see below, pp. 70-72). In 1151, a year following the relocation of the convent, a young nun named Richardis von Stade, Hildegard’s closest disciple and a collaborator in the Scivias, was lured away from the nunnery by a worldly temptation. “Because of her family's distinction," Hilde­ gard explained in a letter, “she hankered after an appointment of more repute: she wanted to be named abbess of some splendid church. She pursued this not for the sake of God, but for worldly honour.”13 Hildegard appealed in vain to temporal and ecclesiastical au­ thorities, up to and including Pope Eugenius, to have the ap­ pointment rescinded. Her appeals were denied, and Richardis left her, never to return. She was to die unexpectedly, shortly after tak­ ing up her new position. Can there be an echo of this sad story in the straying of the Soul away from Virtue in the Ordo Virtutunû If there are such references, they are sublimated artfully. The ugly subject of death never comes up—another instance in which the Ordo shows its distance from the morality tradition. The Soul is not given the cradle-to-grave dimensions of a human existence (as is common in such plays as Mundus et Infans or The Castle o f Perseverance) nor even a brush with mortality. By contrast, Death in the moral plays is a powerful and often visible force, most fa­ mously in Everyman and The Castle o f Perseverance where he comes as God’s messenger, evoking a fear which is the first step toward repentance. In the Ordo these things are managed differently. The Soul does indeed return, lamenting and penitent, as the Virtues sing “Alas! Alas! Let us Virtues complain loudly and mourn, because a sheep of the Lord has fled from life" (“Nos Virtutes plangamus et lugeamus, quia ovis Domini fugit vitam,” OV 58/159-60). Here it has been suggested that “The soul, now dressed in tom, foul, and dirty clothing, returns to the Virtues."14 This description recalls a similar moment in the morality Wisdom where the central figure— also called Anima—returns from her state of sin:


Robert Potter

Here ANIMA apperythe in be most horrybull wyse, fowlere ban a fende. It may indeed be a similar moment, though the Ordo definitely lacks the astonishing sequel ten lines later in Wisdom: Here rennyt owt from wndyr be horrybyll mantyll of the SOULL seven small boys in be lyknes of dewyllys and so retome ageyn.19 Nor in fact has the Ordo delved, with Wisdom, into the degra­ dation of Mind, Will, and Understanding (the cause of Anima’s disfigurement) in prodigal scenes of London underworld debau­ chery and legal satire, culminating in a dance of Vices, devils, gallants, whores, and perjured jurymen. Here in a nutshell is the difference between the stately rarified visions of the Ordo Virtutum and the didactic flamboyance of the vernacular morality plays: the one an elite ceremony of innocence, the other a popular and fre­ quently earthy sermon on human nature. It is the difference be­ tween a Byzantine icon and a Bruegel painting. Both indeed may be devotional works of art, but they are of a different order. The Virtues in the Ordo now must physically assist the shamefaced Soul to rejoin them, and they must assure her that her sins will be forgiven. This, the essential message of a morality play, is expressed here in images of purity and light—“shining white lilies” and “the armor of light” (OV 65-66). Now, climactically, the Devil intervenes again, shouting his threats to the Soul and reminding her that she had embraced him earlier. The Virtues protect the Soul, an action similar to that of the Virtues in The Castle o f Perseverance, though against very different odds—no assaulting army of the Seven Deadly Sins, the World, the Flesh, and the Devil with “gunnepowdyr brennynge In pypys in hys handys and in hys erys and in hys ars whanne he gothe to batayl.”“ By contrast, when the Devil in the Ordo attempts singlehandedly to carry off the Soul, he is quickly restrained by the

Ancestor o f the English M oralities?


Virtues, on the order of Queen Humility, and physically bound—a spectacle illustrated in one of the miniatures in the Scivias. Setting her foot on the Devil’s head, Chastity reminds the audience that, as the Virgin Mary, she has given birth to the “sweet miracle'* (OV 82/229-30) which will finally cast down and confound the Devil. At a loss for music but not for words, the Devil retorts contemp­ tuously that Chastity has transgressed the laws of God, which or­ dain that human beings should sweetly copulate and multiply. Such a sensual viewpoint may seem out o f place in the woik of a cloistered nun, but Hildegard of Bingen spread her intellectual net widely. Her medical works, as Dronke points out, are notable for their energetic, and decidedly feminine, discussions of the phys­ iology of sex.17 Having allowed the bound Devil his last lecherous words— though, theatrically speaking, anyone so bound on stage has al­ ready lost the argument—Hildegard ends her music drama with soaring praises of the virgin birth and divine love. The final verses of the Ordo, unassigned in the manuscripts but presumed to in­ volve a general procession, move poetically into a mystical mode and end with a description of Christ crucified, inviting the audi­ ence to bend its knees so that God “may stretch out his hand to you*' (“genua vestra ad patrem vestrum flectite/ ut vobis manum suam porrigat”) (OV 87/268-69). The final word “porrigat** (“stretch out”), set melismatically to thirty-nine notes, musically recapitulates earlier motifs as it vividly illustrates the stretch of a divine hand toward humanity.1' Though the pictorial imagination may be reminded of Michelangelo’s Sistine God the Father, reach­ ing out to Adam, students of morality drama will be most inter­ ested in the concluding call to prayer and the invocation of an audience. Just what sort o f audience was intended to witness this vision­ ary piece would be intriguing to know—though in Hildegard *s correspondence there is persistent evidence of male visitors and distinguished patrons. It is even possible that the Ordo was origi­ nally performed for the dedication of the new convent at Rupertsberg.19 In any event, one must presume that Hildegard, who was

Robert Potter


continually projecting her visions onto a greater stage of human events than her small convent, saw to it that this lovely work stretched out its blessings to properly appreciative (and no doubt well-bom) ears. Not for her the streets and fields where the ver­ nacular moralities would eventually ply their censorious, yet for­ giving trade. For all of the shared motifs, images, and intentions, Hildegard and the morality playwrights were constructing very different artifices of language, music, and dramatic action for utterly different circumstances. The Ordo Virtutum stands alone and unprecedented, a unique creation of its kind: something more than a morality play and something less—or, may we say with proper respect and gratitude, something less and something more.

NOTES 1. Robot Potter, The English M orality Play (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1975); Kail Young, The Drama o f the M edieval Church (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1933), 2 vols.; E. K. Chambers, The Mediaeval Stage (London: Oxford Univ. Press, 1903), 2 vols.; Emst Roben Curtius, European Literature and the Latin Middle Ages (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1953); O. B. Hardison, Jr., Christian Rite and Christian Drama in the M iddle Ages (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1965); Fletcher Collins, Jr., The Production o f M edieval Church Music Dramas (Charlottesville: Univ. of Virginia Press, 1972); William L. Smoldon, The Music o f the M edieval Church Dramas, ed. Cynthia Bourgeault (London: Oxford Univ. Press, 1980). 2. Peter Dronke, Poetic Individuality in the Middle Ages (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1970), pp. 150-79, and Women Writers o f the Middle Ages (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1984), pp. 144-201. 3. Hildegard von Bingen, Ordo Virtutum, ed. Audrey Ekdahl Davidson (Kalamazoo: Medieval Institute Publications, 1984). The English translations in this edition are by Brace Hozesld and Gunilla Iversen. 4. Hardison, Christian Rite and Christian Drama, pp. 1-34. 5. Dronke, Poetic Individuality in the M iddle Ages, p. 179. 6. Citations are by item number to Hildegard von Bingen, Ordo Virtutum, ed. Davidson, with line numbers supplied from Dronke, Poetic Individuality. 7. Richard Axton, European Drama o f the Middle Ages (London: Hutchinson, 1974), pp. 95-96.

Ancestor o f the English M oralities?


8. See Audrey Ekdahl Davidson, “Music and Performance: Hildegard of Bingen's Ordo Virtutum,** above, and also Ian Bent, “Hildegard of Bingen," New Grove Dictionary o f Music and Musicians, ed. Stanley Sadie (London: Macmillan, 1980), VŒ, 554. The Ordo Virtutum has been widely performed in recent years. The production by Sequentia Qn

collaboration with Leo Treitler and Peter Dtonke) at Cologne—a production that is widely known through the recording on the German Harmonia Mundi label—also toured America in 1986, performing at Stanford, Los Angeles, Oberiin, Boston, and New York. Audrey David­ son's Society for Old Music production of 1984 appears to have been one of the earliest American revivals. 9. Wla, as quoted in translation by Dronke, Women Writers o f the Middle Ages, p. 150. 10. Quoted in translation by Dronke, Women Writers o f the Middle Ages, p. 169. See also Julia Bolton Holloway, “The Monastic Context of Hildegard's Ordo Virtutum," below. 11. Servó», ed. Adelgundis Fühikötter and Angela Carlevaris, Corpus Christianonim, 43-43A fRimhout: Brepols, 1978), II, 620-36; Servios, trans. Columba Hart and Jane Bishop (New York: PauUst Press, 1990), pp. 528-36. Excellent color reproductions of the illuminations from the lost manuscript may be found in Adelgundis FQhrkötter, ed.. The Miniatures from the Book Scivias o f Hildegard o f Bingen from the Rupertsberg Codex, trans. Fr. Hockey (Itanhout: Brepols, 1978). 12. Dronke, Poetic Individuality, p. 174; Axton, European Drama o f the Middle Ages, pp. 97-98. 13. Vita, as quoted in translation by Dronke, Women Writers o f the Middle Ages, p. 151. 14. Interpolated stage directions in Audrey Davidson's edition of the Ordo Virtutum, p. 22. 15. The Macro Plays, ed. Mark Eccles, EETS, 262 (London: Oxford Univ. Press, 1969X pp* 143-44. 16. Ibid., p. 1. 17. Dronke, Women Writers o f the Middle Ages, pp. 175-77,244-46. 18. Davidson, “Music and Performance," above, p. 21. 19. This was my suggestion in the original version of this article, published in Com­ parative Drama, 20 (1986), 208; see also Barbara Newman, Introduction, in Scivias, trans. Hart and Bishop, p. 26.

The Virtues of Hildegards Ordo V iitutum } or, It Was a Woman's World Pam ela Sheingom In an article first published in 1986 and reprinted in this book (above, pp. 31-41), Robert Potter has lamented that Hilde­ gard's Ordo Virtutum had been “shamefully neglected by gener­ ations of scholars.*' Though recent scholarship has begun to redress this situation, Hildegard’s text has still not received the attention it deserves from literary scholars, drama scholars, or specialists in women's studies, and some of the attention it has gained has been curiously dismissive. Publication history helps to explain why the important place of Hildegatd's play both in her oeuvre and in the history of dra­ matic literature has not been better understood, for, so far as I know, the Ordo Virtutum has yet to reach any of the anthologies either of Hildegard's works or of medieval drama. Barbara New­ man’s translation of Hildegatd's Symphonia,* readily available in paperback, has quickly become the edition of Hildegatd’s poetic works in English, and although the Ordo Virtutum may be related to the Symphonia, it is understandable that Newman did not in­ clude it in her book. Peter Dronke’s edition of the fuller version of the Ordo,2 as Audrey Ekdald Davidson notes in her chapter (see above, p. 1), has had a significant impact; however, he does not offer a translation, and Hildegard's name does not appear in the title o f his book. Bruce Hozeski's English translation was not made from Dronke’s text,3 Audrey Davidson's fine performance edition, which uses Hozeski's translation as modified by Gunilla Iversen, is likely to be sought out primarily by those interested in staging the play,4 and the Sequentia recording, with a translation of the Ordo text by Peter Dronke in the liner notes, has thus far 43


Pam ela Sheingom

mainly reached those concerned with Hildegard’s music.5 The 1990 publication o f an English translation of the Scivias by the Paulist Press includes only the shorter version of the Ordo (IILxiii. 9) but serves to make the text more generally available and pro­ vides a context for it as well.4 Perhaps more serious than the lack of a polished and readily available English translation, however, has been the reluctance of some scholars of medieval drama to take Hildegard's text seriously due to lack of a performance history. This lack made it possible to exclude Hildegard from an anthology of essays that may take on authoritative status as a summary of “New Research in Early Drama," as the collection is subtitled. Entitled The Theatre o f Medieval Europe and edited by Eckehard Simon, this anthology was recently published by Cambridge University Press in its series Cambridge Studies in Medieval Literature.7 In spite of its correc­ tive focus on Continental rather than English drama, and in spite of the two essays devoted to liturgical drama, one by C. Clifford Flanigan and the other by Andrew Hughes, the only mention of Hildegard comes in Simon’s preface, which summarizes the con­ clusions reached by the contributors in discussions held during the 1986 conference at Harvard out of which the book grew. Expand­ ing upon his statement that “from the Winchester Easter play of c. 975 to Shakespeare and beyond, theatre was the province of men," Simon deals quickly with the two possible exceptions, Hrotswitha and Hildegard: “Hrotswitha would have been indignant at the suggestion . . . that she and her fellow nuns, like minstrels at a banquet, should act out this Christian answer to Terence [and] [t]he same can be said of Hildegard. . .. " It is “poor sociology," concludes Simon, “to claim, as music performance groups like Sequentia do, that Hildegard and the nuns of Bingen would have staged the Ordo in the convent cloister."* And that takes care of the women! Surely the burden of proof rests on the other side of this point, since it is highly unlikely that Hildegard would have composed music and preserved it with the text of her Ordo Virtutum if she did not intend the whole to be sung in performance.9 Fortunately it will not be possible for a future volume on medieval

The V irtues o f H ildegard's O rdo Virtutum


theater to ignore the role of women, whether in convent drama, like the [day from Huy discussed by Kathleen Ashley in our co­ edited book o f essays. Interpreting Cultural Symbols™ or women's participation in festive and dramatic entertainment, which is being documented by the Records of Early English Drama project, espe­ cially by James Stokes in his work on Som erset11 Other problems have also interfered with the reception of Hildegard's play, among them its initial reception as the earliest morality play, which was based on its use of personifications. Potter's comparative study (pp. 31-41, above), however, shows that these resemblances are largely superficial. For Potter, Hil­ degard's play lacks the earthiness of the later morality drama. Usefully, he dismisses the evolutionary model as the paradigm for understanding the development of medieval drama, thereby erasing the possibility of a literary history that might lead from Hildegard to the later moralities. Instead he sets them side by side, taking the “vast aesthetic distance” between the twelfth-century text and those of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries as evidence that there could be no lineation, now lost to us, that connects them as drama. While Potter’s largely negative argument, which sets up binary oppositions to demonstrate what Hildegard’s play is nott needs to be received with some caution since it tends to isolate both Hildegard and her play, he has performed a service to the Ordo Virtutum by demonstrating the weakness of the easy con­ clusion that it is an early morality play. Indeed he points the way to further research by suggesting that the play was not a closet drama but was intended for presentation by the members of Hil­ degard's convent Thus it seems imperative to explore other con­ texts for the play more in keeping with its date of composition, as I intend to do in this chapter. A further problem is that in spite of the tremendous increase in scholarship about medieval women in the last decade, from which Hildegard studies have greatly benefited, it has remained difficult to find an appropriate niche for this most unusual of women. Studies of women in medieval culture have tended to focus on the later Middle Ages, where materials for social history


Pam ela Sheingom

are so much richer than those of earlier periods. Due to the great impact of the work of Caroline Walker Bynum, there has been a tendency to think of medieval women as defined in terms of body and as embracing that definition to create something positive out of i t But Hildegard, who thought and wrote a great deal about both body and soul, does not fit that paradigm, nor does she participate in the affective spirituality that has become the hall­ mark of women's religion in the late Middle Ages. In fact it would be fair to argue that Hildegard stands on the other side of a great divide in the history of women. Susan Mosher Stuard observes: At least in regard to the church's opinion of women, the Middle Ages can be appropriately bisected by the Gregorian reform movement of the late eleventh century. This reform demolished the double monasteries of the earlier era and quite effectively walled women's houses off from the institutional hierarchy of the church. The great medieval churchwomen, Hild at Whitby, Leoba, Hildegard of Bingen, Roswitha of Gandersheim, all belong to the earlier period. As the influence of churchwomen waned, church writings on women showed a greater tendency to regard women as the "other," the basis for a growing misogyny and a violation of the orthodox Christian belief that all souls, without distinction of age, class, or sex, are equal in the eyes of God.12 In Penelope D. Johnson's view, this divide in women’s history takes place somewhat later, in the course of the late twelfth and early thirteenth centuries, which places Hildegard firmly on the other side.13 Bernard of Clairvaux perfectly captures that "Otherness" in his Sermon 38 on the Song o f Songs. Commenting on the verse "O fairest [most beautiful] among women," Bernard says, How aptly [the writer] describes her as beautiful, not in every sense, but beautiful among women; a qualification meant to restrain her, to enable her to know her limitations. I believe

The Virtues o f H ildegard's O rdo Virtutum


that by women he means people who are sensual and worldly, people devoid of manliness, whose conduct lacks both fortitude and constancy, people who are entirely superficial, soft and effeminate in their lives and behavior.. . . Hence the bride is not beautiful from every aspect, but beautiful among women, among people whose ideals are worldly, people who, unlike herself, are not spiritual; but not among the angels in their bliss, not among the Virtues, the Powers, the Dominations.14 In contrast to Bernard's conviction with regard to women's limitations, Hildegard’s play opens by establishing the Virtues, personified as women, as constituent parts of the body of Christ. Then the voices of those engaged on the pilgrimage of life—that is, souls housed in flesh—lament their plight, but one happy Soul looks forward to the life to come and invokes the Virtues for assis­ tance on her pilgrimage toward that life. Struggling against the flesh, the Soul pleads for help and receives instruction from the Virtue named Knowledge of God, but she fails to heed it and de­ parts with the Devil to enjoy the world. During the Soul's ex­ tended absence, seventeen Virtues—presided over by their queen, Humilitas, who is one of their number—present and define them­ selves, probably performing a round dance as they do so. The Soul then returns and, encouraged by the Virtues, renounces the Devil, whom the Virtues subsequently bind. A final interaction between the Virtue Castitas (Chastity) and the Devil follows. Despite the implication of direct and simple action given by this plot summary, Hildegard's text is filled with metaphor and allusive language susceptible to a variety of interpretations. Several features of this text require further investigation. First this variant of a Psychomachia includes no personifications of evil, for, though some have argued that the Devil stands for Superbia, Pride, he is not directly identified in this way. Second, the selection of Virtues does not correspond to any scheme or list of Virtues devised by medieval thinkers. Third, with the exception of the Devil, the ma­ jor characters are all female. And finally, although the Soul repents, she does not receive acknowledgement or reward for


Pam ela Sheingom

doing so; thus there is a sense in which the action of the play fails to come to a satisfactory conclusion. Placing Hildegaid’s play in a specific liturgical context will account for all of these features. How are we to understand Hildegard’s exclusion of the Vices from her play? Although the extent of Hildegard’s debt to the Psychomachia tradition is unclear, she surely took from it the idea of female personifications of the Virtues and also its military im­ agery. In fact, Hildegard wrote during a period of transition in the Psychomachia tradition. She represents neither the straightforward scenes of military combat inspired by Prudentius nor the later interpretations which, as Jennifer O’Reilly puts it, are “far more interested in defining the nature of the Virtues and Vices through analysing their psychological causes and inter-relationships, and with setting them in a comprehensive scheme of spiritual teach­ ing.’’19 Hildegard apparently wanted neither the clash and clatter of literal combat nor the entertaining temptation of personified Vices that might encourage her audience to dwell on the pleasures of the world. The soul, Anima, does not fall victim to specific vices, but rather fails to comprehend the power inherent in her virginal na­ ture; that is, she does not recognize that the body in which she is clothed was created by God, for she does not have appropriate Knowledge of God. What she needs to do is to pursue a way of life in harmony with her nature as God created her, and what the play does is to clear the way for her to pursue that life. As unusual as Hildegard’s exclusion of the Vices is her selec­ tion of Virtues—a selection which reveals a great deal about the purpose and intended context of her play. Scholarly studies of the Virtues have focused on recognizable schemes, usually lists of seven. Throughout her writing, Hildegard’s fluidity of thought resists rigid schematization of this kind. This is the reason, I would suggest, that she is seen as standing outside the tradition rather than offering an especially creative interpretation of it. What are Hildegard’s Virtues? After Knowledge of God, we hear from their queen, Humility, then Charity (Caritas), Fear of God, Obedience, Faith, Hope, Chastity, Innocence, Contempt of the World, Heaven­

The V irtues o f Hildegard’s O rdo Virtutum


ly Love, Discipline (probably), Modesty, Mercy, Victory, Discre­ tion, Patience. Five of these, Heavenly Love, Discipline, Modesty, Mercy, and Victory, appear together in Hildegard’s Scivias IH.iii where they are costumed as they probably would have been for an enactment o f die Ordo Virtutum. The speeches of die Virtues center on two topics: their actions in the struggle between good and evil, and the reward of practicing the virtues which they represent—that is, descriptions of Paradise. They also answer the interspersed taunts of the Devil, who is iden­ tified with the “old dragon’’ of the fall of the rebel angels and the “old serpent*’ of the temptation. Hildegard’s principle of selection for the Virtues was, I sug­ gest, based on the Virtues appropriate to women, especially those needed to persevere in the monastic life. For example, the Virtue Timor Dei, Fear of God, is especially associated by Hildegard with women in her Liber vitae meritorum {Book o f Life's Merits).16 Discretion, another of the Virtues included in the Ordo Virtutum, comes from the chapter in the Benedictine Rule on the qualities of an abbot or abbess and was described and recommended by Hil­ degard in a letter addressed to an abbess, possibly Hazzecha of Krauftal or Elisabeth of St.-Thomas-an-der-Kyll: . . . leam to have Discretion, which in all heaven and earth is the mother of everything, since through her the soul is ruled and the body is nourished in proper austerity. The person who, amid sighs of repentance remembers her sins, which were committed at the suggestion of the Devil in thought, word, and deed, shall embrace her mother Discretion and be supported by her, and amend ho- sins in true humility and obedience to the counsel of her directors.17 Most significant among Hildegard’s Virtues is the Virtue Castitas (Chastity), whose speech, the longest of any of the Virtues, is entirely in praise of Virginity. It is Castitas who, celebrating the triumph over the Devil at the end of the play, equates this event with the trampling of the serpent in Genesis and with the virgin


Pam ela Sheingom

birth of Christ, the Incarnation. Thus the defeat of the Devil in the play equals the triumph of virginity both on the tropological level of the individual soul and on the anagogical level of salvation history. I would argue that this play is both an exhortation to and a celebration of virginity. The centrality o f virginity in Hildegard’s thought can be un­ derstood from the importance she gives to it in her Scivias. Marina Warner observes that in other writers “virginity itself is rarely re­ presented as a virtue on its own. . . . Virginitas appears exceed­ ingly rarely as a maiden, and does not form part of the extended systems, the holy guilds of Virtues or Gifts or Beatitudes. . . .”18 Yet in the Scivias Hildegard placed Virginitas in the arms of Ecclesia. As Barbara Newman comments, “when she personified this 'alien life* [of virginity] in the clear-eyed, girlish figure of Virginitas, she established a concrete and intimate bond between individual consecrated virgins and the virgin Ecclesia.“19 Hilde­ gards play, the Ordo Virtutum, was the perfect expression of that “concrete and intimate bond." For Hildegard, virginity represented the perfection of God's Creation before the Fall. In a letter exhorting virginity she wrote: “For she must remain such as Eve was before God presented her to Adam, because then she looked not to Adam but to God.“20 Perseverance in virginity prepares the nun for the life to come. Thus Hildegard ties together the two themes of her play by urging perseverance in virginity and describing its reward in the embrace of the Heavenly Bridegroom. Though I would not argue a direct connection, I find it sig­ nificant to note that Hildegard's emphasis on perseverance in vir­ ginity places her in the tradition of Hrotswitha of Gandersheim, who states in the preface of her dramas that her purpose in writing them was to praise “the laudable chastity of sacred virgins.“21 As Katharina Wilson comments in her introduction to her translation of the dramas, Hrotswitha's “major theme [is] the exaltation of the virtue of steadfast and pure virginity.“22 But what relationship did Hildegard’s play celebrating vir­ ginity have to the liturgy of the Church? The lack of a satisfactory

The V irtues o f Hildegard’s O rdo Virtutum


answer to this question has been another contributory factor in the exclusion of the Ordo Virtutum from the canon. The prevalent theory suggests that the Ordo was intended for performance as part of the celebration inaugurating Hildegard’s new monastery on the Rupeitsbeig. Yet all her other sung works seem to have been in­ tended for performance on specific days in the liturgical year, most frequently on saints* days. Scholars have organized other lituigical dramatic texts according to the appearance of their subject matter in the lituigical calendar, and have then used this oiganization to support a paradigm that situates the “origins” of lituigical drama at the most important points in the liturgical calendar, especially Christmas and Easter. Since Hildegard's play found no place in that scheme, it has been thought to have no roots in the lituigical soil from which we “know” drama grew, hi a major article, "The Fleury Playbook, the Traditions of Medieval Latin Drama, and Modem Scholarship,” C. Clifford Flanigan perceptively discusses the “unfortunate results” of the organizational scheme, among them the obscuring of ‘‘plays' textual histories” and the failure to address manuscript context23 Flanigan only mentions Hildegard’s play in passing, for he constructs two mutually exclusive cate­ gories for these texts—dramas and rituals—and defines them in such a way that the Ordo fits neither category. Rituals are in service books, and thus their context is “wholly liturgical.” Enacted as part of liturgy, rituals “are communal events centered on paradigmatic actions in the history of salvation.”34 Through a “power of reactualization” “the event imitated is be­ lieved rendered present in the community’s midst and for its wel­ fare.” “Rituals . . . can only be performed at the one moment in the liturgical calendar that is appointed for them, since only that time is thought to be charged with cultic power.”25 “Dramas, on the other hand, including those performed within a church as part of a service, are not regarded as cultically efficacious.” They “seek to imitate past actions,. . . and they draw on their audience’s ex­ perience of the worid and of human nature for their effect . . . [Tjhey have no necessary relationship to the sacred calendar.”26 Hildegard’s Ordo Virtutum does not fit Flanigan's categories,


Pam ela Sheingom

nor does the Sponsus, a dramatization of the parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins. Neither “renders past events present,” a nec­ essary quality of ritual in his view, nor “seeks to imitate past ac­ tions,” a necessary quality of drama. Yet both belong to the genre of liturgical drama. Each centers on a paradigmatic action, but that action is not the history o f salvation: it is the salvation of the in­ dividual soul. Our understanding of drama and ritual needs to be revised to include this category. Flanigan, who had arrived in­ dependently at a critique similar to my own, promises a contribu­ tion in which he will address the place of the Ordo Virtutum and the Sponsus in a new paradigm. Next I would like to set out an argument that Hildegard's play was written for a specific liturgical context. Given its focus on virginity, I suggest that Hildegard intended her play as a prepara­ tion prior to the Mass that included the Ordo for the Consecration of Virgins and that during that service the bishop conferred on the virgin or virgins being consecrated the special garb that Hildegard had devised for her nuns. The Ordo for the Consecration of Virgins had a long history by Hildegard's time. Peter Brown speaks eloquently of the sig­ nificance of the consecration of virgins at the end of the fourth century, in the time of Ambrose. He describes the ceremony as it was conducted in Milan and Rome as well as in the East. “The ceremony of the velatiot of the solemn veiling of consecrated vir­ gins, was a fully public affair, celebrated at a few high festivals of the year.. . . In a crowded church, blazing with light and with the shimmer o f white, triumphal robes, a burst of rhythmic shouting marked the moment when the consecrated woman took up her position behind a special pure white marble railing that marked her off from the rest of the basilica as clearly as did the chancel rail around the sanctuary.”27 Yet this was a short and relatively simple ritual compared to the Ordo for the Consecration of Virgins writ­ ten in the tenth century and included in the Romano-Germanic or Mainz Pontifical.2* A description of the Ordo for the Consecration of Virgins in the Mainz Pontifical will reveal the many ways in which this text

The Virtues o f H ildegards O rdo Virtutum


and Hildegards play form an appropriate whole, echoing and re­ echoing similar themes.39 Yet Hildegards play is by no means a mechanical reworking of the liturgical elements making up the Ordo. R ist, assuming that Hildegards play was presented on the same day as the Ordo supplies an audience—and surely Hilde­ gards text was intended for an audience. The Ordo for the Con­ secration o f Virgins could only be performed at specific and fes­ tive times in the liturgical year that would themselves have at­ tracted visitors to the monastery, as would the presence of the bishop who conducted the ceremony.30 Hildegards monastery only accepted women of high status whose families and associates may well have attended the ritual that bound these women to the mo­ nastic life. For example, René Metz cites the consecration of So­ phie, sister of Otto HI, at which the Emperor himself, his mother Theophano, bishops, and members o f the court were present31 It is consistent with what we know of Hildegard to suggest that she would have devised a suitable entertainment for such a distin­ guished audience, one completely in keeping with the day's pri­ mary activity that would, at the same time, show off her nuns to their best advantage. In Hildegard's play, the Soul recognizes the folly and danger o f life in the world and receives medicine from the Virtues that heals her wounds. The dominant presence of Chastity toward the end of the play and her identification with the Virgin Mary rein­ force the idea that the Soul must persist in virginity. Then the Virtues address God, both as Christ and as Father. The last speech o f the play, identified by Audrey Davidson as a procession, is in Christ's voice. This aiding provides a perfect transition to the Ordo for the Consecration of Virgins; in this Ordo the bishop speaks as Christ—and I would suggest that his role begins here, at the end o f Hildegard's play. If Hildegard's play had been per­ formed in the church itself, the procession would function to move its chief participants to the place where the Ordo for the Con­ secration o f Virgins begins. The first action in the Ordo for the Consecration of Virgins takes place before the Mass and involves the presentation of the


Pam ela Sheingom

virgin to the bishop by her parents. As Metz suggests, this act is modelled on the traditio puellae, the giving over of the bride to the groom by her parents at the beginning of the wedding cere­ mony as it was practiced in northern Europe where it took place at the church door. Thus the virgin is in the role of bride, the sponsa Christi, and the bishop is the groom, die Sponsus himself. At this point the virgin chants an antiphon taken from the Passio of St. Agnes, a virgin martyr, which refers to her mystical marriage with Christ: “Ipsi sum desponsata, cui Angelí serviunt, cuius pulchritudinem sol et luna mirantur” (“I am espoused to the very one whom the angels serve, at whom the sun and the moon wonder”)-32 As the virgin chants this antiphon the bishop grasps her hand. Thus he literally receives her from her parents, as in the wedding ceremony where this action is called the dextrarum iunctio. The appearance of the bishop followed by this decisive action com­ pletes Hildegard’s Ordo Virtutum in two important ways, both in answer to words spoken by the Devil. In response to the Devil’s taunting questions, “And who is this great love? Where is the fighter, and where is the rewarder?” the Sponsus has appropriately appeared. And superseding the Devil's advice, “Turn your atten­ tion to the worid, and it will embrace you with great honor,” the Soul/virgin receives the firm physical grasp of the bishop/Sponsus. The bishop then, approaching the altar in procession, begins the Mass, while the Soul/virgin remains in the nave. The Mass proceeds as usual through the gradual; then the consecrado virginum is inserted before the Gospel. The Soul/virgin approaches the altar, and a person who has legal authority over her comes forward to relinquish that authority. As this is happening, a nun’s garments and veil are prepared and brought to the altar to be blessed by the bishop, who says three prayers over the garments and one over the veil. Here is a strong connection with the impor­ tance of clothing as metaphor in Hildegard's writing. In the Ordo Virtutum the Soul/virgin has just been admonished by Knowledge of God, “Vide quid illud sit quo es induta, filia salvationis, et esto stabilis et numquam cades” (“behold what you are clothed in, daughter of salvation, be firm and you will never fall,” O V 12/34-

The Virtues o f HildeganTs O rdo Virtutum


35). The same Virtue, in the form of a “radiant woman,** speaks similar words in the Scivias, Bode HI, Vision 4, to “the people who came in from the world and in the building put on a new garment**: “Consider the garment you have put on, and do not forget your Creator Who made you.**33 The theme of clothing is picked up again at the end of Hil­ degard *s Ordo, when the Virtues urge Anima, “esto robusta, et indue te arma lucis** (“Be strong, and clothe yourself in the armor of light,*’ OV 66/183-84). The festering wounds to which the Soul repeatedly refers were probably indicated on her garments—not impossibly with something like the “wounded shirt** in a much later list of properties for the York plays.34 Such a garment is like­ ly to have been replaced after the Soul’s rescue by the Virtues, probably by the clothing she wore as the consecrado began. But Hildegard employed clothing in direct as well as meta­ phorical ways. She devised special garments to be worn by her nuns that are described in some of her letters. Tengswich, “magistra of a foundation of canonesses on the Rhine,'* inquired of Hil­ degard whether it was “true that on festive days Hildegard’s nuns wore rings, veils, and tiaras studded with symbolic images?'*39 In her reply, Hildegard, justifying this finery, argued, as Marina War­ ner puts it, that “virgins dedicated to Christ have reproduced on earth the primordial state of blessedness they will attain in heaven when they stand, at the Last Judgement, by the side of the Lamb in garments of white. The state of virginity corresponds to the innocence of Eden, and virgins do not need sackcloth and ashes to expiate worldly transgressions.'*36 In a reply to Guibert of Gembloux, who wrote to Hildegard asking specifically about the tiaras, Hildegard described the vision in which she saw the special garb of virgins: “As f o r . . . tiaras: I saw that all the ranks of the Church have bright emblems in accord with the heavenly brightness, yet virginity has no bright emblem— nothing but a black veil and an image of the cross.'*37 Thus in a passage, already quoted by Robert Potter in the present volume (see above, p. 35), she visualized the “emblem of virginity** as a head covering o f a white veil “because of the radiant-white robe


Pam ela Sheingom

that human beings had in paradise, and lo st" Over the veil there “would be a circlet“ of “three colours conjoined into one“ as a representation of the Trinity, lb it there were attached four “roundels,“ one with the Agnus Dei in front, on the sides a cherub and an angel, and at the back a human ñgure, “all these inclining toward the [figure of the] Trinity.“38 Thus the bishop may have begun here in the consecratio virginum to confer upon the Soul/viigin not only her daily nun’s garb but also the special garb that the nuns of the Rupertsbeig wore on feast days. It is striking that his prayers pick up the names of Vir­ tues significant to Hildegard’s Ordo, for he says in the first prayer that the clothing he is blessing signifies humility of heart and con­ tempt of the world; it is the habit of blessed chastity.39 The veil is explicated as the symbol of Christ's eternal guardianship over her body and mind; through its protection she will remain pure and after her death will join the Wise Virgins and be led by Christ to the “nuptias perpetuae felicitatis.“40 The Soul/virgin then removes her secular headdress and receives her garment, but not her veil, from the bishop. She retires to change her clothing, then returns to the choir, prostrates herself, and repeats three times the verse from the Psalms (118.116) that the Benedictine Rule prescribes for one requesting admission to a monastic community. During the litan­ ies, chanted by the nuns, she remains prostrate. Now the bishop utters the prayers of consecration, again emphasizing the connec­ tion between her perseverance in virginity and her reward in join­ ing the Wise Virgins.41 Next the Soul/virgin receives her veil from the bishop, and her response again suggests how appropriate Hildegard's special garments would be for this occasion. Her antiphon comes from the Passio of Saint Agnes: “Induit me Dominus cyclade auro texta et immensis monilibus omavit me" (“The Lord has clothed me in a robe woven with gold and has adorned me with great neck­ laces“).42 Now there are two more antiphons and prayers, the sec­ ond of which specifically asks God that the Soul/virgin be armed with the virtues.43 Then the bishop confers on the Soul/virgin a ring and crown, elements that come from the ritual of marriage.

The V irtues o f H ildegard's O rdo Virtutum


The crown, however, also refers to victory over the Devil, and its conferral thus completes the action begun in the Ordo Virtutum. Evidence concerning the symbolism of the crown, which was, I suggest, Hildegard's specially designed tiara, comes from Psychomachia iconography. The first battle in the Psychomachia is be­ tween the Virtue Faith and her antagonist Worship-of-the-OldGods.44 Faith knocks her enemy to the ground and tramples her head, then offers crowns of flowers to the thousand martyrs, leap­ ing for joy, who have gathered to assist her. Certainly the ending of Hildegard’s play has echoes of this scene when Chastity tells the Devil that she has trampled his head underfoot ("caput tuum conculcavi,” OV 82/229) and exhorts all to rejoice. Since it is specifically through the power of virginity that the Devil is de­ feated, the moment after the bishop has consecrated the Soul/virgin to virginity is a richly symbolic moment for the conferral of the virgin’s crown. This would be even more likely had Hildegard been familiar with one o f the illustrated manuscripts of the Psy­ chomachia like the ninth-century Bern manuscript that shows Faith standing on the defeated vice as she extends a crown to the mar­ tyrs (fig. 8). After the bishop blesses the Soul/virgin and recommends her to the protection of the faithful, the Mass returns to its normal course, with propers appropriate to the Ordo. Thus the action begun in Hildegard's play when souls wander onto the stage of the world lamenting, “We ought to be daughters of the King** (“filie regis esse debuimus,** OV 4/11), ends with the incorporation of the Soul/virgin into the community of consecrated virgins. Hildegard’s positive view of women allowed her to envision their bodies as signs of the feminine divine, as Barbara Newman has argued so eloquently: “every nun, for the visionary abbess, became a figure of the unique virgin bride and a remembrance of Eve in the garden—in short, an epiphany of the original fem inae forma.'** In Hildegard’s play this statement is literally true. Vir­ ginity, after all, is a characteristic of the embodied soul, and is therefore most appropriately celebrated through enactment It could


Pamela Sheingom

only add a certain piquance to the performance that the Viltues were embodied in recognizable individuals. According to this read­ ing the play would function as a “life story** for the young woman about to be consecrated as well as a lesson for her in the virtues she will need to pursue and the reward to be gained therefrom. And the play takes for its structure the model of the monastery itself. That is, the older, wiser nuns who must practice the virtues in fact embody them here, and all pledge to assist the newcomer in their practice. In this way, of course, Hildegard proclaims the ex­ cellence of her monastery, the very embodiment of the Virtues that make up the body of Christ—and she makes the best use of the all-female cast with which the monastery provided her. But there is yet another level at which this play can be read, one that is hard to grasp in a post-Hildegardian world where woman is so cleariy defined as Other. In Hildegard’s world Anima, the soul, though a female personification, had not been feminized, and so it could represent humankind even though it was embodied in the female form. A similar embodiment is found in an il­ lumination of about 1300 from the Rothschild Canticles (fig. 9). Here the scene of the Adoration of the Lamb illustrates the kind of movement that may have taken place during the round dance of the Virtues. Jeffrey Hamburger describes this miniature in his su­ perb monograph on this manuscript: “Nine women, their arms raised in ecstasy, sway and dance to the music provided by the angel who plays a viol in the upper right comer.** These women are, on one level, “almost certainly the virgins of Revelation 14.14, but need not represent women per se. They stand for the souls of all chaste believers.. . . Their role transcends the essen­ tially symbolic function of personifications.”4* Hildegard’s Ordo Virtutwn, then, celebrates the triumph of the human soul over evil, reversing our stereotypes of language and thought by employing a universal that is not man but woman, by embodying the virginal soul in a female body. A key element in Hildegard’s understanding, this concept of the female as represen­ tative human represents a road not taken in subsequent thought, and may help explain the resistance to Hildegard’s play.

The Virtues o f H ildegaid’s O rdo Virtutum


NOTES I am deeply grateful for substantive comments and suggestions from Baibara New­ man, C. Clifford Flanigan, and Richard Emmerson, as well as for the editorial assistance of Martha Driver. 1. Hildegard of Bingen, Symphonia, ed. and trans. Barbara Newman (Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press, 1988). 2. Peter Dronke, Poetic Individuality in the Middle Ages (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1970), pp. 180-92. 3. Bruce Hozeski, “‘Ordo Virtutum9: Hildegard of Bingen9s Liturgical Morality Play,99 Annuale M ediaevale, 13 (1972), 45-69.

4. Hildegard von Bingen, Onto Virtutum, ed. Audrey Ekdahl Davidson (Kalamazoo: Medieval Institute Publications, 1984). References to the text of the Ordo Virtutum are designated in my chapter by the abbreviation OV%followed by the item number in this edition and then, following a slash mark, by the line numbers) in the Latin text as edited by Dronke, Poetic Individuality. 5. Hildegard of Bingen, Ordo Virtutum, recorded by Sequenda: Ensemble for Medieval Music (re-issue: Harmonia Mundi 77051-2-RG, 1982 [compact discs]). Some of Dronke's decisions, such as the translation of the word *fons, fonds9 as "brook99rather than "fountain,99diminish the biblical, eschatological imagery that Hildegard surely intended. 6. Hildegard of Bingen, Scivias, trans. Colomba Hart and Jane Bishop, introd. Barbara J. Newman (New York: Paulist Press, 1990), pp. 529-33; for the Latin text of this shorter version of the Ordo, see the edition of Adelgundis Führkötter and Angela Carlevaris, Corpus Christianotum, Continuado Mediaevalis, 43-43A (Tùmhout: Brepols, 1978), U, 621-29. 7. Eckehard Simon, ed.. The Theatre o f M edieval Europe (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1991). 8. Ibid., p. xiii. 9. I am grateful to Barbara Newman for pointing this out to me in a private com10. Kathleen Ashley, "Image and Ideology: Saint Anne in Late Medieval Drama and Narrative,99 in Interpreting Cultural Symbols: Saint Anne in Late M edieval Society, ed. Kathleen Ashley and Pamela Sheingora (Athens: Univ. of Georgia Press, 1990), pp. 111-30. 11. For a useful general survey of various aspects of women and drama see Clifford Davidson, "Women and the Medieval Stage,99 Women's Studies, 11 (1984), 99-119. 12. Susan Mosher Stuard, ed.. Women in M edieval Society (Philadelphia: Univ. of Pennsylvania Press, 1976), p. 8.

Pam ela Sheingom


13. Penelope D. Johnson, Equal in Monastic Profession: Religious Women in M edieval France (Chicago: Univ: o f Chicago Press, 1991), pp. 2S1-33. 14. Bernard of Clairvaux, Sermon 38 (sec. m.4), in On the Song o f Songs, bans. Kilian Walsh, Cistercian Fathers Ser., 7 (Kalamazoo: Cistercian Publications, 1976), II, 189-90. 15. Jennifer O'Reilly, Studies in the Iconography o f the Virtues and Vices in the M iddle Ages (New Yotfc: Garland, 1988), p. S3. 16. Barbara Newman, "Divine Power Made Perfect in Weakness: St Hildegard on the Frail Sex," in Peace Weavers, ed. Lillian Thomas Shank and John A. Nichols, Medieval Religious Women, 2 (Kalamazoo: Cistercian Publications, 1987), p. 107, citing Liber vitae nuritorum HL50, V.48. 17. Sabina Flanagan, Hildegard o f Bingen, 1098-1179: A Visionary Life (London: Routledge, 1989), p. 177. 18. Marina Warner, Monuments and Maidens: The Allegory o f the Female Form (New York: Atheneum, 1985), p. 249. 19. Barbara Newman, Sister o f Wisdom: St. H ildegards Theology o f the Feminine (Berkeley and Los Angeles: Univ. of California Press, 1987), pp. 220-21. 20. Epístola CXU, PL, CXCVÜ, as quoted in translation by Newman, "Divine Power Made Perfect in Weakness,” p. 120. 21. The Dramas o f Hrotsvit o f Gandersheim, trans. Katharina M. Wilson (Saskatoon: Peregrina, 198S), p. 25. 22. Ibid., p. 3. 23. C Clifford Flanigan, "The Fleury Playbook, the Traditions of Medieval Latin Drama, and Modem Scholarship," in Th* Fleury Playbook: Essays and Studies, ed. Thomas P. Campbell and Clifford Davidson, Early Drama, Art, and Music, Monograph Ser., 7 (Kalamazoo: Medieval Institute Publications, 1985), pp. 2-25. 24. Flanigan, "The Fleury Playbook, the Traditions of Medieval Latin Drama, and Modem Scholarship," p. 3. 25. Ibid., pi 4. 26. Ibid., pp. 3-4. 27. Peter Brown, The Body and Society: Men, Women, and Sexual Renunciation in Early Christianity (New York: Columbia Univ. Press, 1988X p. 356. 28. For a thorough discussion of the Ordo in the Romano-Germanic Pontifical and its sources, see René Metz, La consécration des vierges dans Véglise romaine: Etude d histoire

The Virtues o f Hildegard’s O rdo Virtutum


de la liturgie (Paris: Presses Univerritaires de France, 1954); for an edition, see C Vogél and R. Elze, Le Pontifical romano-germanique du X siècle (Vatican City, 1963-72), 3 vols.

The presence of dramatic elements in monastic induction ceremonies has been persuasively argued by George Klawitter, MDramatic Elements in Early Monastic Induction Ceremonies,** Comparative Drama, 15 (1981), 213-30. In spite of his focus on monks rather than nuns, Klawitter*s conclusions provide significant general support for the argument I am making in this chapter. I am grateful to Clifford Davidson for bringing Hawitter*s article to my 29. It seems reasonable to assume that the version of this ceremony in the Mainz Pon­ tifical is the one that HfldeganTs monastery would have used since the Pontifical was the dominant liturgical text of its type from the later tenth century until some time in the twelfth. HildeganTs monastery was, of course, in the diocese of Mainz. 30. ‘‘Consectario sactae virginis quae in Epiphania Domini, vel in Albis paschalibus, ant in Apostolonim natalitiis celebratur’*(Metz, La consécration des vierges, p. 185). 31. Metz*s source is the vita of Bernward of Hildesheim: “Praesente rege domno tercio Ottone, cum matte impératrice domna Theuphanu, assidenribus quoque episcopis, Rethario Patherbnmnen—si episcopo, Mikne Mindensi episcopo, Hildebaldo Wormadensi cpiscopo, cum aliis prindpibus, qui ad sollempnitatem velandarum virginum convenerant** (Metz, La consécration ties vierges, p. 195). 32. Ibid., p. 188; my translation. 33. Scivias DLiv.preliminsry account and IILiv.22; it should, however, be noted that in the explication of this vision Hildegard refers to the new garment in terms of baptism. For attention to the symbolism of garments in the Benedictine ceremony for men, see Klawitter, “Dramatic Elements,** pp. 220-22. 34. Pamela Sheingom and David Bevington, “‘Alle This Was Token Domysday to Drede*: Visual Signs of Last Judgment in die Corpus Christi Cycles and in Late Gothic Ait,“ in David Bevington et a l ., Homo, Memento Finis: The Iconography o f Just Judgment in M edieval Art and Drama, Early Drama, Art and Music, Monograph Ser., 6 (Kalamazoo: Medieval Institute Publications, 1985), p. 140; for the York inventory, see Alexandra F. Johnston and Margaret Rogerson, York, Records of Early English Drama (Toronto: Univ. of Toronto Press, 1979), I, 55-56. 35. Peter Dronke, Women Writers o f the Middle Ages (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1984), p. 165; see also Julia Bolton Holloway, “The Monastic Context of Hildegard*s Ordo Virtutum? p. 67, bdow. 36. Warner, Monuments and Maidens, p. 191. 37. Dronke, Women Writers o f the M iddle Ages, p. 169. 38. Ibid., p. 169. 39. “ut haec indumenta, humilitatem cordis et contemplant mundi significantia, quibus


Pamela Sheingom

famulae tute táñelo visibQiter sunt informandae proposito, propidus benedicas; ut beatae casdtatis habitum, quem te aspirante suscipiunt, te protegente custodiant" (Metz, La con­ sécration des vierges, p. 197; see also ibid., pp. 172^-73). 40. Ibid,, p. 197. 41. “Agnovit Aoctorem suum beata viiginitas et aemula integritatis angelicae Hlius thalamo IUius cubículo se devovit Qui sic peipetuæ viiginitads est sponsus quemamodum perpetuae viiginitads est Filius” (ibid., p. 143). M Transeat in numerum sapientium puellarum, ut caelestem sponsum accensis lampadibus cum oleo praepandonis expectet; nec turbau improvisi régis adventu, secutura cum lumine (ut) praecendentium choro iungatur occurrat, nec exdudatur cum stultis. Regalem ianuam cum sapiendbus viiginibus licenter introeat, et in Agid tui perpetuo comitatu probabilis mansura castitate peimaneat” (ibid., p. 151; see also p. 202). The strong connection between the parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins and the Ordo for the consecration of virgins suggests that the Sponsus play from St. Martial of Limoges may also have been written for this liturgical occasion. 42. Metz, La consécration des vierges, p. 203; my translation. 43. See ibid., p. 205: “Huic petimus Domine aima suggéras, non carnada, sed spiritus virtute potenda.. . . Sitque in ea casta viiginitas, et omata pariter et aimata fide integra, spe certa, chántate sincera, ut praepanto animo ad condnentíam virtus tanta praestetur, quae superet diabdi universa figmenta. . . . His viitutum armis hanc famulam tuam, interius exteriusque communiens, praesU inofifensun cursum viiginitads implere.” 44. Prudentíus, Psychomachia, 1L 21-39. 45. Newman, Sister c f Wisdom, p. 222. 46. Jeffrey F. Hamburger, The Rothschild Canticles: Art and Mysticism in Flanders and the Rhineland circa 1300 (New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 1990), pp. 52-53. [The instrument identified by Hamburger as a “viol” is, however, more properly called a “fiddle” or “vielle.”—Ed.]

The M onastic Context of Hildegards Ordo Virtutum Julia Bolton Holloway And pearls are like poet's tales; disease turned into loveliness.—Isak Dinesen, T h e Diver"

In this paper I wish to observe Hildegard of Bingen in her medieval context of monastidsm and to view the monasticism of women as both equal to and as opposed to that of men. I shall specifically discuss the use by monastic women and men of drama as play and as therapy, as a sphere of vicarious disobedience in opposition to the real obedience required by their Rule, their Ordo and its Regula} I shall then focus these observations upon Hilde­ gard's own Ordo Virtutum} I The labor of Obedience will bring you back to him from whom you had drifted through the sloth of disobedience.—S t Benedict, Ride

Order and Ride. Monasticism had its origins, for Christianity, in the Essene practices, where Jews chose to dwell in community in the caves of the Dead Sea area, in the wilderness, as textual communities obedient to a Rule.3 These practices were later carried into Egypt and then Ireland by Christian monks dwelling in lav­ ras.4 SS. Augustine and Caesarius wrote Rules for their sisters in Africa and France.3 Jerome was accompanied in his labors of translating the Bible by Paula and her daughter Eustochium.6 We also know of Egeria, who traveled to the Holy Places and wrote back detailed notes concerning the quasi-dramatic liturgical prac­ tices in Jerusalem and Constantinople to her fellow nuns in Spain.7 63


Julia Bolton Holloway

Eventually, in c.547, Benedict codified monastic practices with his Ordo and Regula, his Order and his Rule. In diese documents he prohibited pilgrimage, which was also to be proscribed to monas­ tics at the Synod of Whitby (664), though he insisted upon hospi­ tality to pilgrims.* He had a sister, S t Scholastics, and his Rule embraced and oppressed her. S t Gregory, in his Dialogues, tells their story. Monks carried out the opus dei, the work of God, in the litur­ gical Offices with scriptural readings and the chanting of psalms. They could and did add hymns of their own composing to those of the Bible. Such monasticism required literacy and functioned as a textual community.9 To compensate for that power its members renounced sex, sublimating sexuality into textuality. Monks and nuns took vows o f poverty, chastity, and obedience. The liturgical opus dei carried out in the abbey church required not only the book of the Gospels upon the altar but also books containing the Offices (the words opus, ‘office,’ and 'work* are related) and the music to which these would be sung. The Offices were, and are, Matins, in the night, Lauds, at dawn, Prime, at the first hour of the day, Terce, at the third hour—i.e., at nine o’clock—Sext, at the sixth hour, noon, None, at the ninth hour, three o ’clock, Vespers, at sunset, and Compline, in the evening. Next to the abbey church was the generally square and ar­ caded cloister, often with a well and tree at its center, which sym­ bolized the celestial Jerusalem, Paradise, established in the cerner of the Wilderness.10 There the monks or nuns could pace in con­ templation or read books in carrels (they read aloud, and these were built for soundproofing—so as not to annoy the other readers —as well as for protection from the elements11). There also the young oblates would be taught their Latin and their music, often simultaneously, such as we can see in the liturgical dramas and in the Letters between Abelard and Heloise.12 Paul Meyvaert adds the interesting touch that in the Middle Ages the washing would also be hung in the cloister.13 Meetings concerning compliance with their Rule would be held in the Chapter, at which a chapter of the Rule would first be read, then discussed. Texts would also be read

The M onastic Context


at meals in the refectory. Following the last office of the day, Compline, the community would be enjoined to silence and would retire to sleep in the dormitoiy. All was ordered in time, according to Benedict's Rule, and space, the S t Gall plan giving us the ideal blueprint of the latter.14 The Latin for order and obedience is incoiporated into the title of Hildegard’s drama; it is Ordo. The abbot or prior, abbess or prioress would be elected by his or her brother and sister monks and nuns in Chapter, and would represent Christ amidst his disciples. Obedience was mandatory, but there was also the compensating requirement on the part of the abba, "father," to wash the feet of the community on Maundy Thursday and likewise to wash the feet of pilgrims seeking hospi­ tality at the abbey, as if these were Christ in disguise. Thus we see that monasticism is an artificial family, a textual community, bonded together through obedience and humility—a community living life according to books, dramatically enacting these texts in flesh and blood reality, reading them, writing them, singing them, illuminating them, sculpting them, even acting them. English monasteries could be double, having both genders in sexual equality present within their walls, as at Hilda’s Whitby. This model of sexual equality was then exported to Germany by English monks.15 Such a practice may account for, first, the Ab­ bess Jutta's, then her nuns' presence at the Benedictine monastery at Disibodenbeig. In Hildegard's own day, Benedictinism, which had become corrupt, was being challenged by the countering form of monasticism, Cistercianism. Bernard of Oairvaux sought a re­ turn to the eailier monasticism when monks had been clad in white rather than black and when they had been pioneers in the wilder­ ness rather than wealthy, powerful, and lazy with market towns and cities grown up around their gates. Hildegard herself cor­ responded by means of epistles with Bernard, and in 1147 he took her still incomplete opus, the Scivias, to the Cistercian Pope Eugenius III at the Synod of Trier for his examination and approval.16 Cistercian Bernard, Cluniac Abelard, and Benedictine Suger—each stood in opposition to the others. Though Bernard befriended Hil­ degard, she belonged to Benedictinism and would be more com­


Julia Bolton Holloway

fortable with Abbot Suger's obsession with gems than with Ber­ nard's Cistercian severity. She nevertheless fought with all her might to achieve independence from her abbey of Disibodenberg, of which she had become abbess at Jutta's death in 1136t by estab­ lishing Rupertsbeig in c.1150 as an abbey for nuns only, with the exception of her secretaries and priests, and by bringing to it twenty wealthy and nobly-born nuns.17 Contemporary with Hildegard and Bernard were also Abelard and Heloise, first connected with the cathedral schools, then with Benedictine and O uniac monasticism. In their epistles we can glean more information concerning monasticism for both men and women. It is of interest that Abelard, in writing to Heloise at her request, struggled to feminize Benedictinism—concerned, for in­ stance, that menstruating women should not be required to wear woolen undergarments since these do not take to frequent washing. Heloise made this request for a Rule of Abelard, one suspects, as psychological therapy for his physical castration. A major aspect of monasticism and its celibacy is that sexual differentiation is no longer of importance and that women who were nuns became "virile" and “virtuous." The name of Hilde­ gard's abbess, Jutta,18 is the German equivalent of Judith, who was a liberator of her people—a fact that may be relevant to the mean­ ing of the Qrdo, which presents the feminine as a liberating aspect in the psychomachia. Unlike Abelard and Heloise, Hildegard, when commenting in her role as abbess upon the Benedictine Rule, spoke exclusively in masculine terms, and saw herself as anal­ ogous to Moses with the Law, Benedict with the Rule.19 It was not until S t Birgitta of Sweden that a woman wrote a Rule for women and men and insisted upon its authorization by popes. In a monastery there was an ideal of equality. Yet there was also a paradoxical, contradictory sense of perfection and privilege versus the outside world. Georges Duby has shown us how in this period monasticism combatted a growing ecclesiastical and lay movement, the Peace of God and Truce of God, which desired to stress the equality of all Christians in God's image by presenting the counter model of the Three Orders, or Ordo, of the Monk, the


The M onastic Context

Knight, and the Ploughman. In that argument, we find Hildegard of Bingen's own statement insisting upon aristocratic privilege.30 Criticism of Hildegard was leveled against her by a Canoness Tengswich of Andernach both for her elitism and for the rumor that she had her nuns go to Mass in white veils and wearing pre­ cious gems and theatrical gear of crowns (coronas) upon which were angels and the Agnus Dei—carnalizing her allegories. Hil­ degard did not deny the charge.31

II Leopards break into die temple and drink the sacrificial chalices dry; this occurs repeatedly, again and again: finally it can be reckoned upon beforehand and becomes a part of the ceremony.—Franz Kafka, Fragment

Disorder and M isrule. At the same time that S t Benedict of Nursia established his Ordo, governed by his Regula, women as nuns, entering into that sphere, subverted i t On each feast day of St. Scholastica and SL Benedict, celebrated on 10 February, their Office is sung at Vespers. And that Office is like drama, chanting antiphonally the tale of Benedict's chauvinism, requiring Scholastica's obedience to him, followed by her prayer to God that he break his Rule and stay overnight in her monastery. God then, hearing her prayer, sends a thunderstorm out of a clear sky and forces Benedict's disobedience to himself and obedience to his twin female sibling—and obedience to the deity. Thus the Office for the feast of S t Scholastica and S t Benedict, the reading for which is taken from Gregory's Dialogues, includes within itself the defiance and opposition to the Rule of Benedict33 It celebrates disobedience. Hildegard and her nuns would have participated in that Ordo at Disibodenberg and at Rupertsberg. Monastic drama had a lengthy history as joca monachorum, the playful defiance to the obedience of the Rule, containing with­ in itself misrule that was nevertheless obedient to a higher law— the law o f love manifested in the Gospels.33 This is best exempli­


Julia Bolton Holloway

fied in the gloriously paradoxical figure of Mary Magdalene who appears in the monastic dramas in her whorish scarlet at the house of Simon the Pharisee, where she anoints Christ and washes and dries his feet with her tears and her abundant hair; next, in the Visitado Sepulchri, she mourns at his tomb, again with precious ointment or incense; and then, in some versions of the play, joy­ ously and poignantly greets him as the gardener within the garden. We can see this drama best in the Fleury Playbook (Orléans, Bib­ liothèque Municipale, MS. 201), associated with Fleury and per­ haps Winchester, which in turn has a much earlier account of Eas­ ter performances in the Regularis Concordia along with the excel­ lent illuminations in the Winchester Benedictional o f S t Aethelwold. Behind these performances lie the monks’ knowledge and possession of Terentian codices, of his six Comedies performed in Rome’s redlight districts and in Carthage where St. Augustine saw them and against which both Augustine and Boethius inveighed.24 Besides these liturgical dramas performed in the monastic Offices, we also know of six extraordinary plays written in emula­ tion of Terence by the canoness Hrotswitha of Gandersheim at the end of the tenth century; she had been taught by a Richardis and encouraged by her abbess Gerberga. In her six comedies Hrots­ witha turns to the legends of the saints, martyrs, and desert fathers and draws upon those tales of harlot actresses converted to re­ cluses who mirror Mary Magdalene. The plays frequently incor­ porate almost allegorical figures, the daughters Faith, Hope, and Charity, their mother Sapientia (Wisdom) in one play, the maidens Agape (Love), Chionia (Chastity, Snow), and Hirene or Irene (Peace) in another. Looking at these plays physically one can see—from the D ulcitius, for instance—that their performance was likely in the refectoiy of the monastery with the actress in drag for Dulcitius retreating into the monastery’s kitchen and then reemerging covered with soot and grease from the rape attempt on the pots and pans. One can imagine that exit and entrance, sand­ wiching clangs, clashes, and bongs, sound effects off-stage, were accompanied by the giggles and laughter of the nuns. Hrotswitha combined her book learning of the distant past with the realities of

The M onastic Context


her present What is interesting as well is that these saints* legends frequently center upon the early Christians* disobedience to the Empire and defiance even unto death to the swearing of oaths, bloody sacrifices, and participation in the military required of them by the state.23 Related to this material is the use to which Heloise put Abe­ lard when riie had him compose ninety-three hymns for her nuns of the Paraclete in 1130; these included the Planctus varii of bib­ lical episodes which appropriately mirrored their own calamity —e.g., the planctus Dinae filia e Jacob, the planctus Virginum Israelis super filia Jephthae Galaditae, and the planctus Israel super Samson.** These, like the Eastern sermons and kontakia of Ephraem and Romanos, and like the Western Office of SS. Bene­ dict and Scholastics, are almost dramas; and they are also psycho­ therapy for this separated, yet wedded, now textual, previously sexual, couple and their celibate communities. Hildegard, in the midst of this tradition, is an anomaly in pre­ ferring allegory to Gospel or saints* legends. And we find that, even when she is speaking concerning a Gospel text, immediately its figures become allegorized by her into virtues and vices in the manner of the Psychomachia.2THer Ü ber vitae meritorum likewise makes powerful use o f dramatic dialogues between the various allegorical personifications presented within the tex t2* It is typical of Hildegard, as in her music, that she would both work within and rebel against what is common monastic practice. There are problems with the schizophrenic mode which is allegory. I told my fellow students at Berkeley during the rioting that when they flung flowers at the police and the police re­ sponded by beating up the students, the police were seeing them­ selves as Castitas being pelted with roses by Luxuria29 while the students were interpreting themselves as Caritas and the police as Ira. Nevertheless, a psychomachia, a psychodrama, can be used as therapy. Hildegard herself attempted to impose such a drama as therapy in the case o f Sigewize of Cologne, the young woman possessed by a demon who called Hildegard the vetula Scrumpilgardis, “old lady Wrinklegard,*’ while pleading for her aid. The

Julia Bolton Holloway


drama did not work too well, and Hildegard and her nuns had to take the patient into their abbey for a mote protracted cure.30 Ill Deus creavit mundum, non facio illi iniuriam, sed volo uti illo. —Hildegard, Ordo Virtutum Early Sorrow. We need to see the play of the Ordo Virtutum in its contexts, first of monastic obedience, then of the flesh and blood reality concerning disobedience behind its morality, the tragedy of Richardis von Stade, and lastly the surrounding text in which it first was found, the Scivias, especially the final section, and other writings by Hildegard which enclosed this central drama in her thought and her life. Hildegard's Ordo Virtutum is the cele­ bration of Obedience following upon a period of revolt It is the story not so much of a prodigal son as of a prodigal daughter. In real life there had been such a prodigal daughter. Richardis von Stade was the much loved fellow nun who had colluded with and nursed Hildegard in her illness of not only the customary mi­ graines but even bouts of blindness and paralysis at the time when she sought to leave Disibodenberg in order to found Rupertsbeig.31 Richardis had encouraged Hildegard in her writing of the Scivias, begun in 1141. Perhaps she recognized that this was psychotherapy for her abbess. The partly completed text of Scivias, Bernard's interest in it, and Richardis’ family's influence enabled Pope Eugenius III to grant papal recognition to Hildegard at the Synod of Trier and also made possible the move to Rupertsberg.32 At this time the Emperor Frederick Barbarossa had a secret interview concerning prophecy with Hildegard, the Sibyl of the Rhine, at his royal palace at Ingelheim.33 It is very likely that these clustered actions took place through the influence of Richardis von Stade and her powerful family in their attempt to save Hildegaid's life. Then Adelheid was elected abbess of Gandersheim in 1152,

The M onastic Context


Richardis having been elected abbess of Bassum in 1151.34 Hil­ degard bitterly opposed Richardis' election which would take her away from her, and she ungratefully took the case to her family and to the pope. Adelheid’s election was not so disturbing to her.39 The Archbishop of Bremen, Richardis* brother, had been forced to write to Hildegard to break the news to her of Richardis* sudden death on 29 October 1151. He told her that his sister when dying had stated her intention o f returning to Hildegard and Rupertsbeig. Hildegard, answering his letter,36 described Richardis in words that echo and mirror those of the Ordo Virtutum and its surrounding text in the Scivias; there are also echoes of another letter written to a woman who had abandoned being a nun and to whom Hildegard had referred as a prodigal son.37 In all these writings Hildegard, stressing her outrage at women's disobedience, used the Benedic­ tine emphasis upon Ordo, even to the extent of paraphrasing Bene­ dict's Rule, while describing the serpent, the devil, in Virgilian terms borrowed from the Aeneid, Book II, to give vent to her per­ sonal emotions. Perhaps within that rage is Hildegard's envy of Richardis’ freedom. Her headaches and invalidism could indicate suppressed fury. She herself tended to recover from serious illness through being disobedient. She had been presented to Disibodenbeig as a child of eight, and took her vows of perpetual virginity and obedi­ ence very early in life. Obedience, Ordo, is central to her life and art. Yet her writings are full of sexual curiosity and lore, this ma­ terial granting to her writings some of their most powerful images. Yet she disobeyed Disibodenbetg in founding Rupertsberg. Yet she herself would defy S t Paul against women preaching, and she would herself preach at Trier—like Maty Magdalene's legendary preaching in Provence, Mary Magdalene being perceived in monasticism as having been the first contemplative, the model of the monastic life—although Hildegard oddly compared her love for Richardis to that of Paul for Timothy.33 Yet she would even, in 1178 when she was eighty, defy the Church concerning the burial of a young nobleman and would face six months of excom­ munication. Yet her music disobeys, to its glory, the acceptable


Julia Bolton Holloway

and expected intervals o f Gregorian chant39 Not for nothing did Goethe, who knew her work, echo her love of viriditas with his Faustian MGrey, dear Friend, is all theory,/ And green is life's golden tree.”40 In the (day, but only in play, not in reality, the Anima/Richardis returns to Queen Humility/Abbess Hildegard, the ugly shouted words of the Devil giving way to the chanted symphony of the Virtues and the returned Soul—an alternative and comedic ending to the tragic story. The scenes of the Soul and of the chained Devil are splendidly illuminated in the now lost Scivias codex.41 It could well be that had it not been for Richardis’ disobedience, first to the concept of women's helplessness, then to the concept of her dependency upon another, and finally her death, the writings, the music, and the illuminations we so treasure today could not have come into being. They are like the peari of great price: they in­ scribe, chant, and illumine the Kingdom of Heaven. Let us now conclude with Hedwig’s memory of Hildegard walking in the cloister which rite had built, singing her own sequence O virga ac diadema.42

NOTES 1. Benedicti Regula, ed. Rudolfos Hanslik, Corpus Scriptoram Ecdesiasticoram Latinoram, 75 (Vienna: Hoelder-Pichler-Tempsky, I960); The Ride o f St. Benedict, ed. Timothy Fry (CoUegeviUe9 Minn.: liturgical Press, 1981). 2. For the text of the Ordo Virtutum and commentary, see Peter Dronke, Poetic individuality in the Middle Ages (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1970), pp. 150-92; see also the same author’s “The Composition of Hildegard of Bingen’s Symphonies,” Sacris Erudiri, 19 (1969-70), 381-93; for a transcription of the music, see Audrey Ekdahl Davidson, ed.. Ordo Virtutum (Kalamazoo: Medieval Institute Publications, 1984). For an abbreviated version of the Ordo—noted in the present volume by Robert Potter, “The Ordo Virtutum: Ancestor of the English Moralities,** and discussed at length by Gunilla Iversen, mEgo Humilitatis, regina Virtutum: Poetic Language and Literary Structure in Hildegard erf Bingen’s Vision of the Virtues,” also in the present volume—see Hildegaid’s Scivias, in S. Hildegardis Abbaltisae opera omnia. Patrología cursus completus, ser. Lat. (henceforth PL), CXCVII (Paris: Gamier, 1882), 732-38; Scivias, ed. Adelgundis Führkötter, Corpus Christianorum, 43-43A (Ibmhout: Brcpols, 1978), U, 620-36; Scivias, trans. Columba Hart and Jane Bishop, introd. Barbara J. Newman (New York: Paulist Press, 1990), pp. 528-36.

The M onastic Context


3. G. Vennes, The D ead Sea Scrolls in English (Htnnondswoith: Penguin, 1962), pp. 16-33. 4. Derwas J. Chitty, The D esert a City: An Introduction to the Study o f Egyptian and Palestinian Monasticism under the Christian Empire (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1966); Helen Waddell, The D esert Fathers (1936; ipt. New York: Sheed and Ward, 1942), passim; P. L. Henry, The Early English and Celtic Lyric (New York: Barnes and Noble, 1966), pp. 40-45 and passim. 5. Augustine, Epístola CCXI, PL* XXX1H, 953-65; Letters* Irans. Wilfrid Parson, Fathers of the Church, 13 (New York: Fathers of the Church, 1956), pp. 38-51; The Rule fo r Nuns o f St. Caesarius o f Arles* Irans. Maria C McCarthy (Washington: Catholic Univ. of America Press, I960). 6. Jerome, Epistola CVm, PL* XXII, 902-03; The Letters c f Paula and Eustochium to M arcella about the Holy Places (365 AD.)* trans. Aubrey Stewart (London: Palestine Pil­ grims9 Tkxt Soc., 1896). 7. Egeria, Itinerarium* ed. A. Franceschini and R. Weber, in Itineraria et alia geogra­ phica* Corpus Christianorum, Ser. Lat., 175 (Tbmhout: Brepols, 1965), pp. 27-103; Egeria: D iary o f a Pilgrimage* trans. George E. Gtingras (New York: Newman Press, 1970). 8. In the monastic Officium Peregrinorum* acted by monks in the guise of their pilgrim guests, we have a playful disobedience to the Rule of S t Benedict while the Gospels of Luke and Christ are observed. See Julia Bolton Holloway, The Pilgrim and the Book (Bern: Peter Lang, 1987), pp. 19-43. 9. See Brian Stock, The Implications o f Literacy (Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 1983), pp. 88-231, concerning the concept of "textual communities.99 10. George Williams, Wilderness and Paradise in Christian Thought: The Biblical Experience o f the Desert in the H istory o f Christianity and the Paradise Theme in the Theological Idea o f the University (New York: Harper, 1962); Herrad of Landsberg, PL* CXCIV, 1537-42; Hortus Deliciarium* ed. Rosalie Green, Michael Evans, Christine Bischoff, and Michael Curschmatm (London: Warburg Institute, 1979). Herrad, who was com­ posing hymns and illuminating visionary allegories (1176-96), was Hildegard's junior contemporary. As with the manuscript of Scivias* which disappeared at the end of World War II, so also was the Hortus destroyed in wartime destruction in 1870. See especially Vol. H, 243-47, where female skirted armored knights as Virtues (Hope, Obedience, Faith, Chas­ tity, Patience, etc.) combat Vices, one of whom is Tristesse, Sadness and Despair. Her text stresses virtuous women—Miriam, Esther, Judith, the Queen of Sheba. 11. H. J. Chaytor, From Script to Print (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1945), pp. 13-19. 12. On the dossier in the medieval abbey, see Paul Meyvaett, "The Medieval Monas­ tic Claustrum,99 Gesta* 12 (1973), 53-59. For the liturgical drama, see Karl Young, The Drama o f the M edieval Church (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1933), 2 vols.; Susan Rankin, "Liturgical Drama,99 in The Early Middle Ages to 1300* ed. Richard Crocker and David

Julia Bolton Holloway


Hfley, New Oxford Hiftoiy of Muñe, 2 (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 1990), pp. 310-56, is a more up-to-date introduction to the music than the mote extended study by William Smoldon. The Music o f the M edieval Chunk Dramas, ed. Cynthia Bourgeault (London: Oxford Univ. Press, 1980); for a useful introduction to production, see Fletcher Collins, Je, The Production o f Chunk Music-Drama (Charlottesville: Univ. Press of Virginia, 1972). On Abelard and Helosse, see T. P. McLaughlin, “Abelard’s Rule for Religions Women," Medi­ aeval Studies, 18 (1956), 241-92; The Letters o f Abelard and Heloise, trans. Betty Redice (Haimoodswofth: Penguin, 1974), pp. 214-15. 13. Meyvaert, "The Medieval Monastic Claustrant,“ p. 56. 14. Waller William Horn and Ernest Bom, The Plan o f St. G all (Berkeley and Los Angeles: Univ. of California Press, 1979), 3 vols. 15. See Bede, Ecclesiastical History o f the English People, ed. Bertram Colgrave and R. A. B. Mynon (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1969), pp. 418-19; Edward Kylie, The English Correspondence o f Saint Boniface (London: Chatio and Windus, 1911), pp. 49-50, 57-70, 78-93, 106-12, 130-34, 147-51. A votive antiphon in Hildegard’s Symphonic celebrates Boniface (St Hildegard of Bingen, Symphonie, ed. and trans. Barbara Newman [Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press, 1988], pp. 204-05). See also the Regulará Concordia: The Monastic Agreement o f the Monks and Nuns o f the English Nation, trans. Thomas Symons (New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1953), for English Benedictine practices for monks and nuns in the centuries immediately preceding Hildegard. 16. PL, CXCVn, 145; Barbara Newman, Sister o f Wisdom: St. H ildegards Theology o f the Feminine (Berkeley and Los Angeles: Univ. of California Press, 1987), pp. 8-9. Hildegard also corresponded with die Cistercian Rlixaheth of Schonau; see PL, CXCVII, 214-18. 17. Peter Dtonke, Women Writers o f the M iddle Ages (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1984), p. 150; see also PL, CXCVII, 21-22. One c i the nuns was named HQtrodis. 18. Regula S. Benedicti juxta S. Hildegardum explicate, PL, CXCVII, 1053-56. When she replied to Pope Eugenius, she stressed her compliance with the Benedictine Rule (see Epístola I, PL, CXCVII. 145). 19. Jean Baptiste Pitta, Analecta Sanclae Hildegardis Opera spicilegio solesmensi parata, in Analecta Sacra spicilegio solesmensi parata (Montecassino: lypis Sacri Montis Casinensis, 1882), VIH, vi. hr Hildegard’s secret language, man is Jur and woman is Vanix (ibid., VIH, 497). 20. Georges Duby, The Three Orders: Feudal Society Imagined, trans. Arthur Goldhammer (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1980), p. 225. 21. Epistola CXVL PL, CXCVII, 336-38; Newman. Sister o f Wisdom, pp. 72-73, 221-22; Drenke. Women Writers o f the M iddle Ages, pp. 165-67, 169. 200, giving Hilde­ gard’s later explanation which can be compared to Birgitta’s crown for her nuns of white circlet and croes with five red circles upon the black veil, representing Christ's wounds and crown of thorns; in these unusual practices we catch a glimpse of what Roland Barthes has

The M onastic Context


discossed concerning the imposition of imagined orden by means of stroctnres such as rituals and theaters upon flesh and blood participants (Sade, Fourier, Loyola, inns. Richard Miller [New York: Hill and Wang, 1976), passim). 22. Jane Morrissey, "Scholastics and Benedict: A Picnic, a Paradigm," in Equally in G ods Image: Women in the Middle Ages, ed. Julia Bolton Holloway, Joan Bechtold, and Constance S. Wright (New York: Peter Lang, 1990), pp. 251-57; Gerard Farrell, "Saints Benedict and Scholastics: The liturgical Music," in Equally in G ods Image, pp. 258-60, PL DC 23. Writen discussing the concepts of doubleness and play in culture are M. M. Bakhtin, Rabelais and His World, bans. Helene Iswdsky (Cambridge: MJ.T. Press, 1968), pp. 1-58, 437-74; Johan Huizinga, Homo Ludens: The Play Element in Culture (Boston: Beacon Press, 1962); E. K. Chambers, The M ediaeval Stage (London: Oxford Univ. Press, 1903), I, 274-419, and U, 279-306; Maria Corti, "Models and Antimodels in Medieval Culture," New Literary History, 10 (1979), 339-66; Victor Ibrner, The Ritual Process: Structure and Antistructure (Chicago: Aldine, 1969); Clifford Geertz, "Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight," in Myth, Symbol, and Culture, ed. Clifford Geertz (New York: W. W. Norton, 1971), pp. 1-37; Stephen Orgel, The Illusion o f Power: Political Theater in the English Renaissance (Berkeley and Los Angeles: Univ. of California Press, 1975). Jacobean masques typically had an anti-masque of disorder and misrule, followed by a masque in which order eras restored. 24. Julia Bolton Holloway, "The Dream of the Rood and Liturgical Drama," Com­ parative Drama, 18 (1984), 19-37, and "Crosses and Boxes: Latin and Vernacular," in Equally in G ods Image, pp. 58-87; in these articles I also discuss the influence of Ephraem and Romanos* sermons. See Ephraem Syri, Hymni et sermones (Mechlin: Archiépiscopal Pkess, 1882); The Kontakia o f Romanos, bans. Marjorie Carpenter (Columbia: Univ. of Missouri Press, 1970). 25. PL, GXXXVn, 939-1195; Dronke, Women Writers, pp. 55-83. 26. Abelard, Hymni et sequentiae per totum anni circulum a d usum virginum monos terii paraclitensis, PL, CLXXVHI, 1817-24. 27. Expositio Evaingeliorum, in Pitra, Analecta Sacra, VŒ, 245-327. Her thought is closest to that of the Neo-Platonists, the Chartrians, and indeed her Scivias was given papal approval along with Bernard Silvester*s Cosmographia; see Dronke, Women Writers, p. 148. She draws on monastic sources less than do most male monk writers, yet she concludes her projects better than did Bernard in his sermon cycle on the Song o f Songr, wee Jean Le­ clercq, The Love o f Learning and the Desire fo r God: A Study o f M onastic Culture, bans. Catherine Misrahi, 2nd ed. (1974; rpt. New York: Fdrdham Univ. Press, 1982), pp. 5-8. 28. Pitra, Analecta Sacra, VIH, 1-244. 29. An especially fine example of this particular allegory can be found in Herrad of Landsberg's Hortus Deliciarum, II, 243-47, where women in skins and full armor battle against each other. Vices pelting roses at Virtues, Luxuria against Castitas.


Julia Bolton Holloway

30. Drake, Women Writers, pp. 163-64, and "Problema!* Hildegardiana," M ittellateinisches Jahrbuch, 16 (1981), 118-22, 127-29; Epístola L. PL, CXCVE, 238; Epístola LX, PL, CXCVH, 278-80. In this instance, Hildegard oses figura allegory rather than psychomachia allegory, for she has her patient served by seven priests representing Abel, Noah, Abraham, Mckfaisidech, Jacob, Aaron, and Moses (rather than Drake's guess of Christ) with rods in their hands, the concluding service taking place at the font on Easter Saturday at a ritual which includes the singing of Psalm 113 (114-15), concerning false idols and Exodus, while it had begun at the feast of the Purification. See, on possession, Peter Brown, The Cult e fth e Saints (Chicago: Uttiv. of Chicago Press, 1981), pp. 106-13. 31. Oliver Sacks, The Man Who M istook His Wife fo r a H at (New York: Harper. 1987), pp. 166-70. See Liber com posites medicinas de Aegritndine causis, sigáis atque curie, in Pitra, Analecta Sacra, VIH, 479, where Hildegard discusses diseases of the head caused by capillaries, "De capOlorum caso," including "De emigrarte*." Her medical vocabu­ lary is standard and Grade. Likewise her theology/j^hilosophy is Chaitrian neo-Platooist, of matter as hyle (see Pitta, Analecta Sacra, VIH, 468). Her concept of Satan is Augustinian, God being a aide, "Lucifer autem integer non eat, sed in dispersione divisas est, cum esse volnit quod esse nan debitiT (ibid., VIH, 468). 32. Epístola L PL, CXCVH, 146-53; Epístola XXIX. PL, CXCVE, 189-90, Drake, Women W riters, pp. 150-59,201. 33. Epístola XXVII. PL, CXCVH, 186; Newman, Sister o f Wisdom, p. 11. Hildegard wrote epistles to such figures as Eleanor of Aquitaine and her son. King Henry of England; see Pitra, Analecta Sacra, VHI, 556. 34. Pitta, Analecta Sacra, VIH, 554-55. 35. Epístola XCVL PL, CXCVH. 317-18; Pitta, Analecta Sacra, VIH. 554-55. 36. Epistolae V-X, PL, CXCVH. 30-31,155-63; see also PL CXCVH, 30-31. 37. Drake, Women Writers, pp. 154-59, 188-89,258-59. presenting and translating letters in Berlin Staatshihlinthfk MS. Lat. QU. 674, fol. 49-46*. 38. Drake, Women Writers, p. 234, publishing autobiographical passages in Vita, Berlin, Staatsbibliothek MS. Lat Qu. 674, fol. 9*. On Mary Magdalene, see Pamela LoosNoji, "Temptation and Redemption: A Monastic Life in Stone," and Liesel Nelson, "Is She Dancing? New Reading cf Lucas van Leyden's Dance o f the Magdalene of 1519," both in Equally in God’s Image, pp. 220-50; H. Colin Slim, "Mary Magdalene, Musician and Dan­ cer." Early M usk, 8 (1980), 460-73. 39. Barbara Newman comments: "Hildegard, a maverick, preferred the archaic, nonmetrical sequence, but exceeded the Carolingian composera in irregularity. In fact, her forms are so free that it is often hard to tdl a sequence from a hymn" (HQdegaid, Symphonie, ed. and trans. Newman, p. 16). I am much indebted to Sister Victorine Fenton's paper on her production, when she was Prioress of Mount Saint Benedict, Crookston, Minnesota, of the Ordo Virtutum; this paper was read at the Sl Anselm's Benedictine Sequimflknium, 1981. This conference ««*«1 the analysis presented in my present paper in tins volume. See

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also my "Medieval Liturgical Drama, the Commedia, Piers Plowman, and The Canterbury Tales," American Benedictine Review, 32 (1981), 114-21, and, especially, the paper in the present volume by Audrey Ekdahl Davidson. 4 a Goethe. Werke (Weimar, 1887-1918), XXXIV. 1, as died by Drake, Women W riters, pp. 144, 306-07. A useful comparison is Anna Bijns, M ary o f Nÿmeghen, trans. Eric CoUedge, in M edieval Women’s Visionary Literature, ed. Rlixahtth Alvida Pettoff (New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1986), pp. 355-72, which is a play m the manner of Hrotswitha concerning a learned Faust, Mary-Magdalene-likc contemporary heroine. 41. See Hildegard. Semes, ed. FOhikflaer, Pis. facing pp. 66,84.174,308,374.


42. PL, 133, which identifies the sequence as O virga et diadema; ci. Symphonic, ed. and trans. Newman, pp. 128-31.

Ego Humilitatis, regina Virtutum: Poetic Language and Literary Structure in Hildegard of Bingen's Vision of the'Virtues Gunilla Iversen It is only too easy among scholars of Latin poetry to find harsh judgments of Hildegard of Bingen’s poetic writings. Guido Maria Dreves in his commentary on Hildegard’s lyrical work said in 1909 that she mastered neither the Latin language nor poetic form so that her own texts could only be considered to be “Klad­ den,” not finished work but rough drafts or sketches which revisers were never able to re-work into properly versified poetry.1 On the other hand, we are witnessing today a remarkable change in the evaluation of Hildegard’s lyric poetry. New editions of her poetic work have been published, and important studies have appeared.2 Hildegard’s lyrics, forming a consistent whole, have been compared to Notker’s cycle of sequences.3 But they are not like Aquitanian and other sequences of the transitional type which are characterized by parallel strophes and a more or less consistent rhyme on -a, the vowel traditionally bearing the melisma in the Alleluia sequence; nor are they like the compositions in sequence form which have been added to the Osanna of the Sanctus chant with melismata on -a or -o.* Nor do her texts resemble the new kind of sequences and hymns so favored by her contem­ poraries—for example, Adam of St-Victor and his followers. Thus there are in her texts no traces of a compositional form in which all strophes are written in a verse with regular accent, in a regular rhythmic meter with bisyllabic rhymes (such as the rhythmic imi­ tations of trochaic and iambic meters with paroxyton or propatoxyton endings: 8pt-7pp, or 8p, or 7pp+6p).5 79


Gunilla Iversen

Of course it is exactly the absence o f stylistic traits of this kind that caused Dreves and other scholars after him to condemn her texts poetically. Naturally these scholars were trained in and accustomed to the regular and rhymed poetry of their own times, and in addition they expected the kind of poetry in regular rhyth­ mic form normally practiced by the poets who were Hildegards contemporaries. Hildegard claimed that she had no formal know­ ledge of Latin; this is, of course, true, for as a woman she was educated in studies that did not naturally include the artes liber­ ales. But since her eighth year she had lived her life in a Benedic­ tine monastic society in which Latin was the everyday language of the chants and the lessons of the Office as well as of the liturgy of the Mass. The psalms o f the Psalter were sung through each week. Biblical texts, texts by the Church Fathers, and the Rule of S t Benedict were regularly read aloud in this monastic society. Hence she had rich opportunities to hear and learn Latin texts of these kinds over many years, hi general it therefore seems more ap­ propriate to compare the texts of Hildegard’s lyrics to liturgical texts taken from the Psalms and the prophets or those inspired by their language—antiphons and responsories, or hymns, such as the Te Deum. Fully as important, however, is the relation between Hildegatd's writings and homilies and meditative writings by such authors as Gregory the Great, her great contemporary Bernard of Qairvaux, Hugh of St.-Victor, and Alan of Lille, as we shall see. With regard to her free and irregular verse, it certainly comes closer to the Psalms than to the formal verse of her con­ temporaries. (Additionally, it is possible that those of us in the twentieth century who read and compose free verse are more prepared to recognize other qualities in Hildegard’s poetry.) What, then, are these qualities? What is original in her poetic language? In the present paper I will offer a few observations on Hildegard’s poetic language, and in doing so I will concentrate primarily on the text of the vision describing the Virtues and the repentant Soul. This vision, appearing as the thirteenth in the third book of the Scivias which was written down during the period C.1140 to C.1151, includes the major part of what in the musical

Ego H um ilitas, regina Virtutum


version is called the Ordo Virtutum .* Immediately after completing the production of the three parts of the Scivias Hildegard collected her lyric poetry, provided with musical notation, under the title Symphonia karmoniae celestium revelationum. Fourteen of the songs contained in the Symphonia collection appear as integrated parts of the thirteenth vision.7 Evidently the vision as well as the musical play Ordo Vir­ tutum together with the songs of the Symphonia were written down within a rather limited period. Still, the chronological order in which they were composed has been debated. Even if some of the songs in the Symphonia might have existed at first as independent compositions, it seems evident that at least the text of the vision of the Virtues existed first and was later arranged into a musical play and into songs in the Symphonia .* On the other hand, some songs in the Symphonia were certainly written before the vision.9 Others again might perhaps have been composed around the time of the Council in Trier—i.e., around 1147-48—and hence before the ar­ rangement o f the play, as I shall argue below. The Literary Structure erf the Scivias Version. In the opening of the vision Hildegard describes how she sees a brilliant light (“lucidissimum aerem”). In this light she hears music wonderfully divided into différait kinds: “mirabili modo diversum genus musicomm.” At first she hears a heavenly voice singing in praise and expressing the joy of the hosts “in laudibus” over those who are persistently following the way of truth. Then she hears the Virtues singing in lamentation—“in quaerelis”—calling the souls to the same joys while at the same time singing “in exhortatione” to encourage the faithful ones to fight to overcome the Devil: Deinde vidi lucidissimum aerem, in quo audivi in omnibus praedictis significationibus mirabili modo diversum genus muskorum in laudibus civium supemorum gaudiorum in via veritads fordter perseverantium, ac in quaerelis revocatorum

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ad laudes eorundem gaudionim, et in exhortatione virtutum se exhortantium ad salutem populorum quibus diabolicae insidiae repugnant; sed ipsae viitutes eas opprimunt, ita lamen quod sic fideles hommes tandem a peccatis ad superna per paenitentiam transeunt10 (Then ï n w the lucent iky, in which I heard different kinds o f music, marvellously embodying all the meanings I had heard before. I heard the praises of the joyous citizens of Heaven, steadfastly persevering in the ways of Truth; and laments calling people back to those praises and joys; and the exhortations of the virtues, spurring one another on to secure die salvation of the peoples ensnared by the Devil. And the virtues destroyed his snares, so that the faithful at last through repen­ tance passed out of their sins and into Heaven.)

These three dramatically condensed phrases—“in laudibus,” “in quaerelis,” and “in exhortatione“—may be seen as clues to the en­ tire composition of the vision. They are repeated, in each instance in connection with the words “sonus ille, ut vox multitudinis“ (“that sound, like the voice of a multitude“). In the vision of the brilliant light and powerful sound, Hildegard’s text here as else­ where in her visions is reminiscent of the beginning of the vision of Ezekiel {Ezekiel 1.24-28), a prophet obviously of great impor­ tance to her. In laudibus. The sound like the voice of a multitude singing in praise resounds from the highest step of the ladder of Virtues (an image to which she will return). And, she says, this voice is singing in symphonic harmony—“in harmonía symphonizans“: Et sonus ille, ut vox multitudinis in laudibus de supemis gradibus in harmonía symphonizans, sic dicebat. . .

Ego H um ilias, regina Virtutum


So begins O splendidissima gemma, the first of a series of fourteen coupled songs but without music (fig. 10).11 At the aid of the Riesenkodex (R) these songs are given musical notation as parts of the Symphonia, as they are also in the Dendermonde manuscript (D). Here (in the Scivias) they are presented two-and-two in a clear hierarchical orden the first two address the Viigin Mary, while the next two are directed to angels and archangels, the next to the Patriarchs and Prophets, followed by two to the apostles, two to martyrs, two to confessors, and finally two songs addressed to virgins. This is also the hierarchy depicted in the famous illumination illustrating the vision (fig. 11). O splendidissima gemma... (=Sym.: R, f. 466’; D, f. 1540 O tu, suavissima virga... (=5ym.: R, f. 468r; D, f. 1360 Et itcrum dixit: O gloriosissimi... (*Sym.: R, f. 468’; D, f. 1590 Nam O vos angelí... (=Sym.: R., f. 468*; D, f. 1390 Itemqoe dicebat: O spectabiles v iri... (=Sym.: R, f. 468’; D, f. 1390 O vos felices radices _ (*Sym.: R, f. 469r; D, f. 1600 Et itérant dixit: O cohors militiae » (=Sym.: R, f. 4690 D, f. 1600 Nam O lncidissiina „ (=Sym.: R, f. 469’; D, f. 1610 Itemque dicebat: O victoriosissimi ^ (=Sym.: R, f. 4700 D, f. 1630 Vos flores rosarum ». (=Sym.: R, f. 47(7; D, f. 1630 Et itérant dixit: O successores fortissimi leonis M (=Sym.: R, f. 470*; D, f. 1640 O vos imitatores w (=5ym.: R, f. 47(f; D, f. 1630 Itemque dicebat: O pulchrae facies ~ (=Sym.: R, f. 471'; D, f. 1630 O nobUissima viriditas m (=Sym.: R, f. 471'; D, f. 1630 The border between the different pairs is consistently underlined by phrases such as “et iterum dixit,” “itemque dicebat,“ or “et her­ um dixit.“

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In quaereUs. Then she hears again the voice of the multitude singing in lamenting sorrow, “in quaerelis,” over those who have departed from the steps of the Virtues. She hears them sing the two songs, O plangens vox and O vivens fans, which in themselves summarize the vision of the repentant Soul and the Virtues. Hil­ degard includes these two songs as parts of the musical play Ordo Virtutum, whereas she does not include them in the Symphonia.12 Et herum sonus Ule, ut vox multitudinus, in quaerelis de levocatis ad eosdem gradus in harmonia sic querebatur dicens: O plangens vox (=R, f. 4790 O vivens tons (=R, f. 481*) At the conclusion o f this passage she hears the “living light” (“viv­ e n s . . . lux”) directly addressing the tortuous serpent: “o serpens,” “o tuipissime illusor.” Vivens enim lux de his dich: Tortuosum serpentem scandalizavi in sua suggestione, quae ita plena non fuerat sicut ille putabat Unde iuravi per memetipsum quod in his causis feci amplius et amplius quam in eis, o serpens, tuum gaudium proderet: quia in tua suggestione amputavi quod numquam inventurn est in tua saevitia, 0 turpissime illusor.13 (The Living Light now says of the ones He rescued, “The guileful serpent I flouted in his seduction. His work was not so perfect as once he thought it. 1 swore by M yself, and I did more, far more, For them than he did to them. And so your joy Is ended, your snares destroyed, and all your greed Is come to nothing, O wickedest of impostors!”)

In exhortation*. She hears the voice again a third time, now singing to exhort and encourage the souls to fight the artifices of

Ego HumiÜtas, regina Virtutum


the Devil with the help of the Virtues. The Virtues present them­ selves to the mourning Souls exiled from Paradise. Only after this point comes the long dialogue between the Virtues and the repen­ tant Soul—the dialogue which also constitutes the most significant section of the Ordo Virtutum (see fig. 12).14 Itemque sonus ille, ut vox multitudinus, in exhortatione virtutum in adiutorium hominum et in contradictíone repugnantium diabolicarum artium, virtutibus vida superantibus et hominibus tandem divina inspirathxie ad penitentiam redeuntibus, in harmonia sic clamabaf Nos virtutes in Deo sumus. •

Ergo et nunc militemus___ •••

“Quaerela animarum in came positarum”: O nos peregrinae sumus___ (Scivias IIL227-34,239,244-45; cf. OV 4/9; R, fol. 478") (And again a aong was heard, like the voice of a multitude, exhorting the virtues to help humanity and oppose the inimical arts of the Devil. And the virtues overcame the vices, and by divine inspiration people turned back to repentance. And thus the song resounded in harmony: We virtues are in G o d .. . . ••• So let us now wage w ar.. . . Complaint of the souls imprisoned in bodies: O we are pilgrim s.. . . )

Following the central dialogue (occupying 209 lines), the long final part of the vision (211 lines) will treat the power of music to move the heart—expressed in a language reminiscent of the Psalms.15

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The compositional structure of the vision is very clear. As textual composition it follows a very consistent course. The paral­ lels are there, though they are not found so much within the par­ ticular items as in the relation and tension between the coupled songs. The repeated notion of “vox multitudinis" introducing each major part—“in laudibus,” “in quaerelis,” and “in exhortatione"—underlines the consistency of the structure of the vision. The Songs to the Virgin Mary. O splendidissima gemma, the first song, is addressed to the Virgin Mary, although she is not mentioned by name in the text: O splendidissima gemma et serenum decus solis, qui tibi infusus est fons saliens de corde Patris, qui est unicum Verbum suum p a quod creavit mundi primam materiam quam Eva turbavit* hoc Verbum effabricavit tibi Pater hominem, et ob hoc es tu illa lucida materia per quam hoc ipsum Verbum exspiravit omnes virtutes, ut eduxit in prima materia omnes créatures.16 (O most radiant gern, serene glory of that son which is infused in you, fountain leaping from die Father’s heart, which is his only Word, through which he created the world’s primordial matter, that was troubled by Eve: this Word, Father, fashioned mankind for you, and because of this you are die radiant matter through which die Word breathed all the Virtues forth as in primordial m atter it released all creatures.)

Instead of being named, therefore, the Virgin Mary is described; she is the “most radiant gem“ and the “serene glory of that sun." The sun has been “infused” in her, the “fountain leaping from the Father's heart" (“fons saliens de corde Patris") and at the same

Ego Humiütas, regina Virtutum


time his only Woid (“unicum Veibum suum”). Hildegard chooses to connect “Verbum” with “unicum,” a word usually associated with “Filius,” the only begotten Son. She connects the Viigin’s act of giving birth to the Son—the Word become flesh—with the Cre­ ation; through the Word God created the “primordial matter,” “prima materia,” in which all creatures were living while in a state of innocence in Eden. And this idea leads to the next: the loss of innocence when the innocent primordial matter was troubled by Eve (“quam Eva turbavit”). After this point comes the peripeti: through Mary who is “the substance full of light,” 'lucida mater­ ia,” and by which this same Word breathed forth all the Virtues, all creatures are released and led back to the original condition of Creation, to the state o f innocence, “prima materia.” Hildegard uses the term 'materia* in a special and double sense, but this usage is not without parallel in contemporary texts. Thus, in his commentary on the Song o f Songs, Rupert of Deutz describes the Virgin as an “entirely and altogether pure 'materia* from which God*s holy wisdom might build for itself an eternal home.** And in a twelfth-century litany from Mainz, the diocese to which Rupertsberg belonged, Mary is addressed as “the beginning of our re­ demption, the mother and matter of salvation" (“exordium nostre redemptions, mater et materia nostre salutis”).17 In this concentrated text written in structured prose, Hildegard presents an essential aspect of the vision: the Creation through God’s Word, the Fall, the Salvation through the Incarnation of the Word, and thereby the possibility of a return to innocence through the Virtues inspired by the Word. The three stages are linked by means of the threefold repetition of the word “veibum.” Mary as “splendidissima gemma” stands as a symbol of the crystallized power of all the virtues. Hildegard uses the expression ‘gemma virtutum’ in the same sense in other visions in the Scivias.19 But already St. Jerome had used the word “gemma” to signify the Vir­ tues.19 One might compare this poem to the Salve regina, an an­ tiphon attributed to a number of different authors. It is clear that it was sung at Ouny in 1135 and at St.-Bènigne in 1130, and that it

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began to be widely diffused in the first half of the twelfth cen­ tury:20 Salve, regina misericoidiae, Vita, dulcedo et spes nostra, salve! Ad te clamamus exsules filii Evae, Ad te suspiramus gementes et fientes In hac lacrimaran) valle. Eia ergo, advocata nostra, Illos tuos miséricordes oculos ad nos converte, Et Iesum, benedictum fractum vendis tui, Nobis post hoc exsilium ostende, O Clemens, o pía, O dulcís Maria.21 (Hail, queen of mercy. Hail, our life, our joy, and our hope. To thee we cry, banished children o f Eve. To thee do we sigh, groaning and weeping in this vale of tears. 'Him, then, O thou our advocate, those merciful eyes o f thine toward us; and when this our exile is over show to us Jesus, the blessed fruit of thy womb, O merciful, kind, sweet Mary.)

This poem, it will be noticed, is also written in structured prose with anaphorical phrases, as in the Te Deum, and without regular meter or rhythm. H ie Virgin is not addressed by name until the final word, in the invocations beginning with “O”: “O Clemens, o piay O dulcís Maria.*' The text does not, however, present a con­ densed theological thought in the same way as O splendidissima gemma; it is rather a direct prayer to the Virgin from those who are exiles in this vale of tears. "Ad te clamamus exsules filii Evat j Ad te suspiramus gementes et fientes/ In hac lacrimarum valle." Hildegard uses the same words, in the form "gemere ac flere," alluding to the Salve regina, in the eighth and ninth visions of Part III of the Sem as.21 In the thirteenth vision of the Scivias the lines "O dulcís divinitas . . . ad te suspiro" are again reminiscent of the Salve regina.ö This poem is interesting also because of its associations with Bernard of Clairvaux, whose

Ego Humiliuu, regina Virmtum


further significance will also be discussed below. Even if Bernard could not have been the author of the Salve regina, he nevertheless referred to it, introduced it at Clairvaux to be sung during the Office, and sent a copy of it to Pope Eugenius III.24 The theme of Mary as the Mgem of Virtues" is further pursued in the second song, O m suavissima virga: O tu, suavissima virga firondens de stirpe Iesse, oquam magna virtus est quod divinitas in pulchetrimam filiam aspexit, sicut aquila in solem oculum suum ponit, cum supemus Pater claritatem Viiginis attendit ubi Verbum suum in ipsa incarnari voluit Nam in mystíco mysterio Dei illustrata mente Viiginis mirabiliter claras flos ex ipsa Virgine exivit.25 (O tw eet green branch diet flowers from die stem o f Jessel O glorious thing, that God on His fairest daughter Looked as the eagle looks on the face of the sun! The M ost High Father sought for a Virgin’s candor. And willed that His Word should take in her His body. For the Virgin’s mind was by His mystery illumined. And from her virginity sprang the glorious flower.)

Mary's strong virtue made God choose her to make his Word become flesh. Like the eagle looking into the sun, so the Divinity perceived how great the virtue was in this his fairest daughter. Hildegard once more uses an image from Ezekiel's vision; she might well have known how Gregory the Great, in his homily on this vision, explicates this image of the eagle who can fix his sharp eye on the sun.26 It is interesting to note that Hildegard uses the same image in her letter to Bernard of Clairvaux written in 114647 (i.e., about the time when the text of the Scivias vision was being written down);27 here she addresses Bernard himself as the eagle who dares to look into the sun: “Tu enim aquila es aspiciens


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solem.”“ Presuming, (hen, (hat the actual form of foe vision might date from about the time of the Synod of Trier in 1147, one can imagine that Bernard must have been an important person for Hil­ degard at this time; he was among the persons to be gathered at foe council in Trier during foe winter of 1147-48 under foe leader­ ship of Pope Eugenius III. One of the issues concerned whether or not Hildegard's writings should be sanctioned by the Church.29 Bernard could be a terrible opponent, as, for instance, Abelard had experienced. It was only a few years before, in 1140, that Bernard had arranged to have Abelard's writings proscribed by foe Church.90 Hildegard was likely very much aware of foe importance of having the mighty abbot of Clairvaux on her side at this crucial moment in her life, and she seems to have been particularly in­ fluenced in her writings, whether consciously or unconsciously, by his language and ifoought during this time. In connection with Hildegard's possible “political” actions in 1147-48, we might recall that some of her songs have associations with Trier. Possibly some of her songs dedicated to patron saints in Trier and later collected in the Symphonia may have been de­ signed as “political” gifts to be given to her influential friends there. Thus, first there are foe two songs to S t Eucharius—the responsory O Euchari, columba virtutem illius and the sequence O Euchari, in laeta via ambulasti—both possibly presented at an earlier date when he was still foe patron saint of the monastery. But after the relics of S t Matthias had been transferred to the new church, which was consecrated by Pope Eugenius III on 13 Jan­ uary 1148 during his sojourn in Trier, the dedication of foe monas­ tery was transferred to St. Matthias. To St. Matthias Hildegard then presented the long hymn Matthias, sanctus per electionem.91 She also composed and gave as a gift the sequence Columba as­ p e c t to St. Maximinus of Trier.92 These two later songs might have been “political” gifts dating from foe time of foe Synod of Trier. Naturally Hildegard was a person of her age in following her contemporaries in her focus on the Virgin Mary. As we know. Old Testament images prefiguring foe Virgin occupy an extremely im-

Ego Humilitas, regina Virtutum


portant place in the theology of the twelfth century-theology expressed, for instance, in the Victorino sequences.33 typological images of this kind describing Mary’s virginity were cultivated to such an extent that Walter of Châtillon ironically defined the theo­ logical writers of this period as those “who compared the rod of Jesse/ to the virgin birth,/ or the bush of Moses’ vision,/ or the fleece of Gideon/ wet with glassy dew" (“qui aptabant virgam Jesse/ paitui virgíneo,/ seu rubum visionis,/ sive vellus Gedeonis/ sparsum rore vitreo”).34 The mariological aspect was introduced even into the texts of the liturgical chants by means of mariolog­ ical tropes.33 But whereas other poets and theologians compete in collecting typological images of the immaculate virginity, Hil­ degard does not in the first place focus on Mary’s virginity but rather on her humility and on her inner strength.36 Mary as the gem of the virtues is tied to the notion of humility, and humility is the queen o f the Virtues—“Ego Humilitas, regina virtutum,” as Hildegard makes Humility present herself, in a dramatic oxy­ moron.37 The Fall: Humilitas vs. Superbia. Hildegard could also be said to follow a long literary tradition in her focus on the Fall and on the subsequent Exile. Here she primarily interprets the sin of the Fall less as an act of disobedience than as a result of haughtiness or pride. She emphasizes that the sin of Lucifer, the fallen angel, consists in his pride, “supeibia.” In the first of the paired songs to the hierarchic order, O gloriosissimi lux vivens angelí, “superbia” is again revealed: O gloriosissimi lux vivens angeli, qui infra divinitatem divinos oculos cum mystica obscuritate omnis creaturae aspicitis in ardentibus desideriis, unde numquam potestis satiari! o quam gloriosa gaudia illa vestía habet forma quae in vobis est intacta ab omni.piavo opere, quod primum ortum est in vestro socio perdito angelo,


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qui volate voluit supra intus latens pinnaculum Dei. unde ipse tortuosus demersus est in ruinam; sed ipsius instrumenta casus consiliando facturae digiti Dei instituit.3* (O most glorious living-light angels, who beneath the dignity gaze on the divine eyes in the mystical obscurity of all creation in ardent desires, whence you can never be satiated! O how glorious are those joys your form possesses, which in you is untouched by all the wicked work which first began in your companion, the lost angel, who wished to fly above the hidden inner pinnacle o f God, hence he crookedly plunged into ruin, but his fall furnished instruments by counsel for the handiwork of G od's finger.)

The angel fell because he wanted to fly above God’s wing (“volare voluit supra intus latens pinnaculum Dei”). In the word “pin­ naculum” Hildegard follows up the image of flight introduced in the verb “volare.” At the same time “pinnaculum” alludes to the Temptation scene in which the Devil leads Jesus to the parapet of the temple; she combines the concrete biblical expression “pin­ naculum templi” {Matthew 4.5) with the double notion “pin­ naculum Dei,” “the peak of God’s wing,” which is “hidden within” (“intus latens”). To describe the fallen angel she chooses the word “tortuosus,” an epithet usually used to identify the seipent of the Garden of Eden—and so Hildegard makes the image of the fallen angel more complex. In the second song to the angels, O vos angelí, Hildegard’s words recall Alan of Lille who had recently treated the theme of hierarchy in his famous exposition on the sequence on the angels. Ad celebres rex, as well as in a treatise on the heavenly hierar­ chy.39 Hildegard explains the greatness of the heavenly ones in an image which recalls the earlier image of the eagle that can fix his eye on the sun. Here she insists: “Videtis enim interiorem vim

Ego Humilitas, regina Virtutum


Patrisy quae de corde illius spiral quasi facies" (“you can look into the Father's interior power which exhales from his heart as clearly as into his face"). In turn this image prepares for the Virtues to appear in person.40 The celestial hosts, the prophets and the patriarchs, the apos­ tles, the martyrs, the confessors as well as the virgin martyrs are all examples for die repentant Soul to admire and to follow. Through the Virtues man can reach different steps on the difficult pilgrimage to God and his heavenly mansion. We will recall that Hildegard in the beginning of the vision described how die perfect Virtues were singing from the highest steps of this ascent (“de supemis gradibus”). Here she follows a central thought expressed in the Rule of S t Benedict—well known by Hildegard since this Latin text belonged to those constantly read aloud in all Benedic­ tine houses.41 In Chapter VII, De humilitate, Benedict extensively describes die twelve stages of humility. But again Hildegard's conception of humility as the first of the Virtues, on the highest step of the ascending stair of Virtues, can also be compared with Bernard of Clairvaux’s view of this virtue—recognizing that Ber­ nard was also building upon Benedict's Rule. In his De gradibus humilitatis et superbiae Bernard writes: “Humility is the virtue in which man makes himself small in his own truest self-conscious­ ness. This agrees with those who move from virtue to virtue, that is, from step to step on the ascending stair in their hearts until they reach the peak of humility, in which, as in Sion (which means 'in the look-out tower*) they perceive the truth.” Humilitatis vero talis potest esse definitio: humilitas est virtus, qua homo verissima sui cognitione sibi ipse vilescit Haec autem con­ vertit his, qui ascensionibus in corde suo disposais, de virtute in viitutem, id est de gradu in gradum proficiunt, donee ad culmen humilitatis perveniant, in quo velut in Sion, id est in speculatione, positi, veritatem prospiciant.42 Bernard's homilies had been copied and disseminated for at least twenty years before Hildegard had her vision recorded. It may be

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noted that in 1147-48 when Bernard's Declamationes de Colloquio Simonis et lesa was being copied for the clergy of Cologne (close­ ly related to Rupertsberg), he refers to his book De gradibus as well known to them.43 In his letter to Hildegard from c.U 47 Bernard uses the bib­ lical expression “Deus superbis resistit, humilibus autem dat gratiam” (“God resisted! the proud, and giveth grace to the humble," Jeunes 4.6, 1 Peter 5.5). In one of his sermons on the Song o f Songs (Setmo 34), he comments on the same passage.44 Likewise, in his work concerning the Virgin Mary, In laudibus virginis Matrist Bernard writes that virginity is a laudable virtue but that humility is even more necessary (“Laudabilis virtus virginitas, sed magis humilitas necessaria"). And he states that one can be saved without virginity but not without humility: “Potes denique sine virginitate salvari; sine humilitate non potes. Potest, inquam, plác­ ete humilitas, quae virginitatem déplorât amissam." It is even pos­ sible that humility which deplores lost virginity can please God. And he continues: “I dare say that without humility not even the Virgin Mary had pleased God. . . . Thus, if Mary had not been humble, the Holy Spirit had not rested upon her" (“sine humilitate autem, audeo dicere, nec virginitas Mariae placuisset___ Si igitur Maria humilis non esset, super earn Spiritus Sanctus non tequievisset"). Bernard concludes: “If you cannot but admire the virginity in Mary, study to imitate her humility, and this will be enough for you" (“Si ergo virginitatem in Maria non potes nisi mirari, stude humilitatem imitan, et sufficit tibi").49 This theme is further developed in the vision in the following passage in which Hildegard heats the voice of the multitude sing­ ing to exhort the repentant souls to resist the Devil: Nos virtutes in Deo sumus et in Deo manemus; regi regum militamus et malum a bono separamus. Nam in primo agone apparuimus

Ego Humilitas, regina Virtutum


ubi victrices exstitimus, dum ille corruit qui super se volare voluiL Ergo et nunc militemus illis qui nos invocant subvenientes et diabólicas artes calcantes, et eos qui nos imitari voluerint ad beatas mansiones perducentes.4* (We virtues are in God, and there abide; we wage war for the King o f Kings, and separate evil from good. We appeared in the first battle, and conquered diere, while the one who tried to fly above him self fell. So let us now wage war and help those who invoke us; let us tread underfoot the Devil’s arts, and guide those who would imitate- us to the blessed man­ sions.)

The Virtues here present themselves as those who live in God and remain in God: “Nos viitutes in Deo manemus et in Deo sumus.” The Virtues are the ones who assist all those who implore them for help and who tread under foot the artifices of the Devil, “dia­ bólicas artes calcantes,” and lead all those who will imitate them, “qui nos imitare voluerint,” to the blessed heavenly dwellings, “ad beatas mansiones perducentes.” The message condensed in these lines is close to the thought behind Bernard's words “stude humilitatem imitari.” The passage beginning with the words “Nos virtutes . . . su­ mus” (“We the Virtues . . . ”) in the vision corresponds to the pas­ sage beginning with the words “Nos sumus radices” (“We are the roots”) in the beginning of the musical play. But before these lines, the text arranged as the musical play Ordo Virtutum opens with the dramatic question from the Patriarchs and Prophets gazing up and saying, “Who are these, who come like clouds?”—“Qui sunt hi, qui ut nubes?” (OV 1/1; cf. Isaiah 60.8)—to which the Virtues ask in return: “what makes you wonder at us?”—“quid admiramini in nobis? (OV 2/2). These dramatic questions are reminiscent of the opening question of Viri Galilaei, the Ascension


Gunilla Iversen

Introït antiphon "Quid admiramini alicien tes in caelum" (adapted from Acts 1.11), an antiphon which in turn is connected with a number of trope verses in a tradition not of liturgical drama but of dramatic liturgy.47 This kind of dialogue formed after the model of the famous Easter dialogue Quern queritis was, as we know, well established in the medieval liturgical tradition, and Hildegard might well have had dialogues o f this kind in mind when she arranged her [day. Thus she gives the opening of the play a much more dramatic character than the text in the vision. The Vision and the Play Compared. The difference between the opening o f the dialogue in the musical play and the correspon­ ding passage in the vision constitutes one essential difference be­ tween the text of the vision and the Ordo Virtutum. Another important difference between the vision and the musical (day is that the long passage in the drama (OV 25-56/76-155) where the single Virtues sing is not found in the text of the vision. The principal personified Virtue speaking in the vision is Humility, and indeed only one other Virtue appears, namely Victory, and that only at the end. It appears that the play is arranged to give indi­ vidual singers the opportunity to sing a few distinctive lines of their own; we recall that in addition to Humility and Victory, fif­ teen personified Virtues are introduced in the play: Scientia Dei (Knowledge of God), Karitas (Charity), Timor Dei (Fear of God), Obedientia (Obedience), Fides (Faith), Spes (Hope), Castitas (or Virginitas, Chastity), Innocentia (Innocence), Contemptus Mundi (Contempt of the World), Amor Celestis (Celestial Love), Disci­ plina (Discipline), Verecundia (Modesty), Misericordia (Mercy), Discretio (Discretion), and Patientia (Patience). A significant difference between the vision and the play con­ sists in the importance given to the virtue of Virginity, which in addition to Humility is the main virtue in the text of the vision, as noted above. In the musical play, on the other hand, Virginity is the figure addressed by the other Virtues in the longest and most effulgent invocation. Even if Humility is still “regina virtutum," Virginity also dwells in the royal chamber, “in regali thalamo

Ego Humilitas, regina Virtutum


stas” and she is embraced by the King: O Virginitas, in legali thalamo stas. O quam dulciter aides in amplexibus regís, cum te sol perftilget, ita quod nobilis flos tuus numquam cadet. O virgo nobilis, te numquam inveniet umbra in cadente flore! (OV 37/104-09) (O Virginity, you stand in die royal bedchamber. O how sweetly you bum in the embrace o f the King, while the sun shines through you, so that your noble flower will never fade. O noble virgin, the shade w ill never find you with your flower fading.)

In the text o f the vision, Hildegard follows the inner logic of the plan laus, quaerela, exhortarlo, focusing on the contrast humilitas-superbia, and in general is closer to the thinking of Bernard of Gairvaux. In the text of the play, on the other hand, she seems to have had another ambition, that of arranging of a ceremonial play to be performed by a number of singers. Perhaps she did in fact rework the vision into a play for the nuns of Rupertsberg to be performed in connection with the celebration of the Dedication of Virgins, as suggested by Pamela Sheingom in her paper in the present volume; in this case, the virgins themselves would consti­ tute a particular Order, the Order of Virtues. This would support Sheingom’s suggestion concerning the early function of the Ordo as a part of the ceremony of the Dedication of Virgins, which thus may be a more viable thesis than the theory that the play was ar­ ranged for the actual inauguration of the abbey church at Ruperts­ berg.4* Stylistic Traits. In the vision the central theme—the struggle of the individual Soul aided by the inner strength which emanates from the heart of God and is expressed in the virtues of which humility is the greatest—is carried through with great consistency.


Gunilla Iversen

One picture leads to the next in sequence. The contrasting con­ cepts, haughtiness vs. humility (superbia vs. humilitas), are demon­ strated in repeated images of the Fall of Lucifer, the Fall of Eve, and the insidious temptations originating from the Devil. Hildegard often repeats the same word in new configurations, revealing new meanings. H ie repetition of the word ‘veibum’ has already been noted in O splendidissima gemma: first it refers to the creation of the world through the Word, secondly to the Incar­ nation of the Word, and thirdly to the Word inspiring all the Vir­ tues. Likewise, the word ‘materia’ is repeated with different meanings within the same text—as “primam materiam” and as “lucida materia.” Consequently Hildegard chooses to begin the poems with the inteijection ”0 ” (as in the famous O-antiphons of Advent).49 The O-sound is a holy vowel, and along with the a- sound of the Al­ leluia is a principal bearer of wordless melismata throughout a long tradition. Long melismata on “O” are used in many contem­ porary proses to the Osanna of the Sanctus chant as well. But Hil­ degard seems to favor openings in “O” even more than do others in her time. God is above all addressed as the Light and the Sun, as for instance in the antiphon O spectabiles viri.30The prophets and holy ones dwell in the shadow of this light, “in lucida umbra,” and they can look directly into the sharp and living light—“acutam et viventem lucem.” In the section of the vision containing the dialogue, the Soul (Anima) is described with a number of notably varying designa­ tions: she is the King’s daughter, “filia regis,” God's sweet crea­ ture, “dulcis creatura Dei”; she is grounded in the profound depth of God’s wisdom, “aedificata es in profunda altitudine sapientiae Dei” (Scivias IH.xiii.264; cf. OV 6/20-21)—recalling the biblical text “O altitudo divitiarum sapientiae et scientiae Dei” (Romans 11.33); and she is created through God’s good will, “volúntate Dei constituta” (Scivias III.xiii.276; cf. OV 10/29). The Soul is also the instrument for and the daughter of salvation, “filia salvationis” (Scivias III.xiii.287; cf. OV 12/34).

Ego Humilitas, regina Virtutum


The unhappy Soul exiled from life is conscious of her sins, a mourning sinner, full of soies, “plenus ulceribus,” “in suis cicatricibus” (Scivias ffl.xiii.376, 395; cf. OV 65/177, 68/187); she stinks from the wounds with which the old snake contaminated her, “in vulneribus feteo, quibus antiquus serpens me contaminavit” (Scivias ffl.xiii.367-68; cf. OV 63/171-72). She confesses that all the ways she had chosen were wrong, “omnes vias tuas malas esse cognovi” (Scivias ffl.xiii.414; cf. OV 73/212); it is hard for her to fight against the flesh, “nimis graue mihi est contra carnem pugnare'* (Scivias III.xiii.275; cf. OV 9/28). She does not know where to go or what to do, “nescio quid faciam aut ubi fugiam” (Scivias ffl.xiii.291; cf. OV 13/36), and she implores the Vir­ tues, “omnes virtutes invoco’’; “libenter veniam ad vos’’ (Scivias III.xiii.260, 267; cf. OV 5/19, 7/23). The worried Soul is also described in images derived from the parables of the lost sheep and the lost silver coins in S t Luke’s Gospel. Thus the complaining Souls pray, “O living Sun, carry us on your shoulders’’ (“O vivens Sol, porta nos in umeris tuis,’’ Sciv­ ias III.xiii.249-50; cf. OV 4/16; see Lake 15.5). The abstract desig­ nation “living Sun’’ is combined with the very concrete and cor­ poral image of the shepherd carrying the sheep on his shoulders. Again when the Virtues arc complaining and mourning that the sheep of the Lord has run away from life, and Humility ex­ horts the other Virtues to look for the lost coin, “ad requirendam perditam drachmam” (Scivias III.xiii.320; cf. OV 22/70), the text recalls the account in Luke 15.8-10 of the woman and the ten sil­ ver pieces which concludes with the words “gaudium erit coram angelis Dei super uno peccatore paenitentiam agente’’ (“there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth”). And further, like the angel to the women at the sepul­ cher, the Virtues comfort the frightened Soul with the words “Noli tímete’’ (“do not be afraid'*) and then continue: “nor flee, because the good shepherd searches for his lost sheep,’’ “nec fugere, quia pastor bonus quaerit . . . perditam ovem suam” (Scivias III.xiii.363-64; OV 62/168-69). Hildegard is a master of daring combinations of disparate,


G unilla Iversen

often contrasting pictures. Often an abstract concept is combined with a very physical image as we have seen, for instance, in ex­ pressions such as “pinnaculum Dei'* or “vivens sol, porta nos in humeris tuis.” "Viriditas,” "the greening, creative power," is a no­ tion of particular importance in her imagery. Thus the final of the paired songs to the hierarchy is precisely the song O nobilissima viriditas. The tree of life, its fruit, and its shadow return in differ­ ent pictures. So, in the beginning o f the play, for instance, the Patriarchs and Prophets present themselves as the roots, “radices,” and address the Virtues as the branches, “rami” (OV 3/6-8), as noted above: “Nos sumus radices et vos rami, fructus viventis oculi, et nos umbra in illo fuimus” (“We are the roots and you the branches, fruits of the living eye, and we live in its shadow" (or even “we are the shadow in him”?). The meaning of the expres­ sion “umbra in illo" is complex and open to multiple interpreta­ tions. One important biblical passage reflected in the phrase is of course Luke 1.3S: “virtus altissimi obumbrabit tibi" (“the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee"). In the phrases for the fhiit and the shadow Hildegard melds together the words “fructus viv­ entis oculi": "the fruit o f the living eye," "the fruit o f the tree of life,” and "of the living eye" (OV 3/7). But it can also be seen as a very physical picture of a branch growing from an eye in a tree trunk. At the same time the words recall the image of the shadow of the tree of life in the Song o f Songs 2.3: "sub umbra illius quam desideraveram sedi et fructus eius dulcis gutturi meo” ("I sat down under his shadow: and his fruit was sweet to my palate"). Likewise when she has Humility say, "O filiae Israel, sub arbore suscitavit vos Deus, unde in hoc tempore recordamini plantations suae" (Scivias III.xiii.328—30; cf. OV 57/156-57), the text recalls the biblical passage in the Song o f Songs 8.5: "sub arbore malo suscitavi te" ("Under the apple tree I raised thee up").91 In her use of this kind of complex imagery Hildegard is more innovative than her contemporaries and also attains an art which is characterized by new poetic qualities. The Role o f the Music. Another aspect o f great importance in

Ego Humilitas, regina Virtutum


the Scivias vision is the role of the music. The voices she hears are singing: in joyful harmony, in lamentation, or in exhortation. And so the final segment of the text focuses on the effects of heavenly music: Et voces istae étant ut vox multitudinis, cum multitudo voces suas in altum extollit Et sonus eaium ita pertransivit me, quod eas absque difficultate tarditatis intellexi. Audivique vocem ex eodem lucido aere dicentem mihi: Laudes superno creatori incessabili voce cordis et oris dandae s u n t. . . •

Quapropter et sonus ille ut vox multitudinis in laudibus de supemis gradibus in harmonía symphonizat: quia symph(xiia in unanimitate et in concordia gloriam et honorem caelestium civium ruminât ita quod et ipsa hoc sursum toilit quod verbum palam profert ••• Nam et symphonia dura corda emollit et ipsis umorem compunctionis inducit ac Spiritum sanctum advocat Unde et voces istae quas audis sunt ut vox multitudinis, cum multitudo voces suas in altum extollit. . . •••

Qui autem acutas aures interiores habet hic in ardente amore speculi mei, ad verba haec anhelet et ea in conscientia animi sui conscribat Amen.31 (And these voices were like the voices of s multitude lifting up its sound on high. And their song wem through me, so that I understood them perfectly.

Gunilla Iveisen


And I heard a voice from die shining sky, saying to me: Praises must be offered unceasingly to the Supernal Creator with heart and m outh.. . . And so that song, like the voice o f a multitude, makes music in praise o f the ranks of heaven. For the song of rejoicing, sung in consonance and in concord, tells o f the glory and honor of the citizens o f Heaven, and lifts on high what the Word has shown. • • •

For the song o f rejoicing softens hard hearts, and draws forth from them the tears o f compunction, and invokes the Holy S pirit And so those voices you hear are like the voice o f a multitude, which lifts its sound on h ig h .. . . • • •

But let the one who has ears sharp to hear inner meanings ardently love My reflection and pant after My words, and inscribe them in his soul and conscience. Amen.)

When she finally exhorts her Benedictine sisters to perceive her words with “sharp” interior ears and to “inscribe” them in the consciousness of their souls, Hildegard echoes the first sentence of the Rule of S t Benedict: “Ausculta, o fili, . . . et inclina aurem cordis tui” (“Listen my s o n . . . turn the ear of your heart”).53 Hildegard explains that the message of the vision is given to her as much through the music as through the words. She says that the singing voices virent right through her in such a way that she directly understood them: “Et sonus earum ita pertransivit me, quod eas absque difficultate taiditatis intellexi.” She explains that the voices sing harmoniously as their symphony ruminates over the celestial glory in unanimity and concordance so that the music exalts what the word says plainly. In her remarks on the indispen­ sable function of music to affect the heart and the internal ear and to express what cannot be expressed in mere words, she naturally follows the oft-repeated Augustinian thought that all our senses are more easily moved when words are sung in a sweet and artful voice.54 In innumerable poems such as sequences, prosulae, tropes, and hymns written in a metaphorical language closely resembling

Ego Humilitas, regina Virtutum


the Psalms, authors in Hildegard's time as well as in the genera­ tions before her developed in their writings the role of music in bringing together the voices from heaven and earth and in exalting unanimous prayer and praise. In the final part of her vision, Hil­ degard uses a language which continues this poetic conceit And she pursues the same idea of the role of the music when she names the collection of her songs provided with musical notation: Symphonia harmoniae caelestium revelationum. Likewise she is in tune, for instance, with the statement of Alan of Lille: “Symphonia, id est concordi mentis et oris et operis harmonia” (“Sym­ phony, that is, the harmonious concordance of soul, mouth, and act”).55 Hildegard underlines the impact of music on the compunction of the heart The “symphonia,” she says, “dura corda emollit; et ipsis humorem compunctionis inducit” (“softens hardened hearts and induces in them the humor of compunction”). In this she closely follows the tradition from Gregory the G reat56 In his Moralia, Gregory repeatedly explains the notion of compunction as the act of God in us—an act by which the soul hardened (*I eçtz"z n m .i frtiuli J m l n t f Cipmnf *fi ntnlni »

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