Jeannette Jones: “A Theological Interpretation of ‘Viriditas’ in Hildegard of Bingen and Gregory the Great.”

“A Theological Interpretation of Viriditas in Hildegard of Bingen and Gregory the Great”

Jeannette D. Jones

The works of the abbess Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179) are noted for their idiosyncratic use of language, neologisms, and inventive imagery.[1] A phrase from the sequence “O ignis Spiritus Paraclitii” provides a ready example, “terra viriditatem sudat,”[2] which has been translated the following ways: “the earth exudes freshness,” “earth swells with living green,” “the earth sweats out green things growing,” and, “washing the evergreen globe.”[3] The variety of translations stems from the word viriditas, a word that appears often throughout her writings and has challenged translation by Hildegard scholars.[4] Its literal English equivalent is “greenness,” yet such a term still remains enigmatic in its English form. I suggest that the difficulties surrounding the translation of viriditas stem from the fact that it is an image that represents a complex relationship between the medieval Christian and his or her relationship to the creation and to God.

Hildegard’s frequent use of viriditas has garnered particular attention, because the word is often taken as one of her idiosyncracies. In their edition of the Liber divinorum operum (LDO), her last significant work, Albert Derolez and Peter Dronke link passages from Hildegard’s work to other authors she herself did not name.[5] In the source apparatus to the edition of LDO, the editors list several other authors who have referred to viriditas in isolated instances, namely: Filastrius, Ambrosius, Eriugena, Pseudo-Alcuinus, Petrus Damiani, and Hugo de S. Victoire.  Pope Gregory the Great (d. 604) is the only author the editors cite who frequently uses viriditas. His Moralia in Iob is the work that contains the most instances of the word; and there are fewer, but still many, instances in his In Hiezechielem and Homiliae in Evangelia.[6]

To come to a better understanding of the meaning and use of viriditas, particularly with reference to Christian spirituality, an examination of the relevant passages in Gregory’s Moralia in Iob offers a framework that allows us to make better sense of Hildegard’s seemingly idiosyncratic use of the word. Contextualizing Hildegard’s use of viriditas in the writings of Gregory opens up insight into the nature and theological underpinnings of Hildegard’s thought, as well as implications for Christian medieval thought.   The ways in which Gregory and Hildegard approach this discourse are different in style.  Hildegard’s work is mystical and full of metaphor and imagery; her discussion of spirituality takes place through a complex vision.  Gregory’s work, by contrast, is a methodical commentary on a book in the Bible, which provides the framework for his excursion into a discussion of Christian spirituality.  Since Gregory is a theological authority in medieval literature, Hildegard, herself notably well-read, would have been familiar with his writings.[7] Despite their stylistic differences, an underlying similarity of thinking  warrants the use of Gregory as a framework for understanding the concept of viriditas.

Gregory’s Moralia in Iob comprises not only a single comprehensive summary of theology based in the commentary on the book of Job but also offers an applied understanding of doctrine for Christians progressing in the spiritual life.[8] The book of Job follows a righteous and faithful man upon whom God allowed Satan to inflict physical suffering and privation of his possessions and family testing his obedience.  Beginning in chapter 38 God responds to Job’s cries of lament asserting His sovereignty over the universe, time, redemption, and creation. Gregory makes frequent use of viriditas in book 29 of the Moralia,[9] referring to the passage in Job 38.27 in which God demands of Job who it is that has the power over the storm “that it should fill the desert and desolate land, and should bring forth green grass?”[10]

The two parts of Job 38.27 contrast a desolate land and a green land, structuring his discussion around redemptive history, of which the coming of Christ is the pivotal event. Gregory begins his commentary in a time before Christ’s coming, by defining that the desolate land is the state of the Gentiles, that is, those who were not part of the chosen people of God, a state that afforded them recourse to neither wisdom (consilii) nor the ability to live rightly (fructu boni operis). Continuing in the use of grass (herbas) and verdure (viror) metaphors, Gregory explains that the green land is the heart of the Gentile after God sent forth a violent shower, that is, Christ’s coming, which Gregory defines as “inward inspiration to outward preaching”. [11]

It is not until after Christ has come that Gregory specifically uses the word viriditas. He begins talking about good works in the context of the Church, calling the earth a type of Church: [12]

Terram tamen Ecclesiam figurasse non inconvenienter accipimus, quae in eo germinavit herbam virentem, in quo ad verbum Dei fecunda misericordiae opera protulit.  Herbam aliquando scientiam atque doctrinam aeternae viriditatis accipimus.

Nevertheless we not unsuitably understand “earth” to represent the Church, which puts forth green grass in it, in that it brought forth fruitful works of mercy at the word of God. We sometimes understand “grass” as knowledge and doctrine of eternal greenness.

Viriditas here seems to refer to growth in the knowledge and doctrine that God provides in his mercy.  This means of sanctification, that is, the Church’s continual growing in holiness, is possible because God sustains and nourishes the Church, much as He does with the earth. In the passage, Gregory responds to Genesis 1.11, “And he said: let the earth bring forth green herb, and such as may seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after its kind, which may have seed in itself upon the earth. And it was so done.” By setting up the earth as metaphor for the Church, Gregory draws on a passage of the creation of the earth to speak of the transformative power of Christ in the life of one who is in the Church. For example, 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” [13]

Tracing through redemptive history, Gregory highlights the desolate land as the time before Christ, then describes Christ’s coming as showers in a green land.  Gregory makes clear that is it specifically Christ’s work that brings the growth of the Church as a new creation. He uses the phrase viriditatis internae doctrinae in the context of Christ’s crucifixion as a means of highlighting the way in which the absence of viriditas necessitates Christ’s sacrifice: it is because the Church is in “a desolate land” without viriditas that Christ’s crucifixion is necessary. [14] Gregory explains that this viriditas is promised to those who explicate (scriptores) and to those who hear (auditores) the sacred word (sacri eloquii).[15] To those who preach and believe in Christ’s redemptive work, God promises viriditas, a growth in spiritual life.

Each instance of viriditas in this passage is in the context of the contrast between a lack of spirituality (the desolate land) and a growth in spirituality (viriditas), that only God can sustain by means of Christ’s redemptive work on the cross. Achieving a natural union between doctrinal exegesis and practical application, Gregory draws on the theme of the frailty of man and dependence on God’s grace throughout his Moralia, seen here in the particularly compelling metaphorical concept of viriditas.[16] It is a growing in spirituality only achieved by the presence of God’s effectual work.

Hildegard’s extensive oeuvre includes recorded visions, scientific and medical works, letters, and lyric and dramatic poetry accompanied by monophonic melodies, which she composed.[17] The Liber divinorum operum (LDO) (1163-1174) is the most mature of her prose works recording visions, comprised of a series of visions divided into three main parts. As an abbess, much her work was written for the edification and spiritual growth of the nuns in her charge. Like Gregory, the practical application of Scripture to Christian spirituality underpins the purpose of her writings.[18]

In the LDO I will focus primarily on a specific instance in the first part of the first vision, where the idea of viriditas is first presented. Hildegard sets the tone in the vision with powerful imagery and content. The vision opens with an image of one who is like a human but is resplendent and more dazzling than the sun and is crowned with a golden circlet.[19] An old man’s face appears above this figure and two wings come out of each side of his neck and rise above him where the circlet is.  The head of a fiery-eyed eagle and a human’s head appear each on either side of the wings, reflecting the refulgence of the angels.  The image holds in his hands “a lamb splendid as the light of day” and under his feet he is crushing a serpent and a hideous black monster.[20]

When the image begins to speak he identifies himself as the “highest and fiery power” (ego summa et ignea vis) kindling all life.  He circles around the world inflaming life into all things by the power of his fire.  Hildegard first uses viriditas in her discussion of his life-giving fiery power:

Sed et ego ignea vita substantie divinitatis super pulcritudinem agrorum flammo et in aquis luceo atque in sole, luna et stellis ardeo; et cum aereo vento quadam invisibili vita, que | cuncta sustenet, vitaliter omnia suscito. Aer enim in viriditate et in florus vivit, acque fluunt quasi vivant, sol etiam in lumine suo vivit; et cum luna ad defectum venerit, a lumine solis accenditur ut quasi denuo vivat…Ego itaque vis ignea in his lateo, ipsique de me flagrant, velut spiramen assidue hominem movet et ut in igne ventosa flamma est.  Hec omnia in essentia sua vivunt nec in morte inventa sunt, quoniam ego vita sum.[21]

I am likewise the fiery life of the substance of divinity.  I flame over the beauty of the fields and sparkle in the waters, and I burn in sun, moon, and stars.  And with an airy wind that sustains all things with invisible life, I raise them up vitally.  For air lives in greenness and flowers, waters flow as if alive, the sun, too, lives in his light, and when the moon comes to her decline she is kindled by his light, as it were to live again… Thus I, the fiery force, am hidden in [the winds], and they take fire from me, just as breath continually moves a man, and as a windy flame exists in fire.  All of these live in their essence and are not found in death, because I am life.

We see in this passage the air as a function of the fiery force, perhaps the air and fire being two instances or codependent parts of the same thing (ut in igne ventosa flamma est).  The fire breathes life into all things, but the air sustains life and allows viriditas to live. Not only do the air and fire sustain, they also become part of the sustained in such a way that life would not exist without their essential life-giving force.

After establishing the basic images of this vision, Hildegard begins to offer some explanations. The fiery force is the metaphorical figure named Caritas (meaning grace), used here as an allegorical representation of the son of God; air and fire are the empowering and creative acts of God in creation.[22] Hildegard creates a picture of a redemptive and Triune God, as she outlines redemptive history through the creation, fall, and redemption of the human race by the power of God, establishing first the Trinitarian aspect of Caritas, delineating the three persons of the Trinity metaphorically as Eternity, Word, and the Breath (for the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit) that binds them, as well as body, soul, and mind in the fiery force of Caritas. And like the fiery force, though these different representations of the Trinity are each separate entities, they are also a single entity.[23] Through the introduction of the Trinity, Hildegard brings in the second person of the Trinity, that is Christ, who is the Redeemer.

Caritas is holding a lamb and crushing a serpent, representing Christ’s sacrifice in conquering sin.  The image of the lamb is found in the first chapter of the Gospel of John at the moment of Christ’s baptism where John the Baptist speaks of him as the “Lamb of God.” This is also one of the few moments in the New Testament when all three persons of the Godhead are represented—the voice of God the Father, the incarnate God the Son, and the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove.[24]

The imagery is made explicit later in the vision by depicting the Son of God on the cross crushing the serpent—also an image found throughout Scriptures.[25] In this image, Hildegard explains the necessity of Christ’s defeating sin in order to save the fallen human race, as she traces the fall of Adam and Eve upon the devil’s temptation. In this delivering act the Lamb is showing his caritas, that is, grace or love, to Adam and Eve and, by extension, His people.  Thus we can see how the name of the fiery force, Caritas, is an allegory for God’s work of grace in redeeming His people.[26] The fiery force says “Ego vita sum,” (I am life) with the emphatic “ego” that Christ often uses to name who he is.[27]

Christ, the fire, gives life, but, as we have seen in the above passage, the air—that is the Spirit—sustains this life. “The air lives in greenness and in the flowers” (aer enim in viriditate et in florus vivit). The salvation that Christ brings can be seen as the one-time transformation, whereas the Spirit brings the flourishing in the life of the Christian after this transformation. Because Hildegard’s and Gregory’s perspectives stem from a shared faith and doctrine, we can connect Hildegard’s statement about Christ’s transformation to Gregory’s statement about viriditas as the growth of the Church through knowledge and doctrine. And as Gregory placed the Church growing in greenness as a type of earth, Hildegard also references the flourishing of creation, living because of the air (the Spirit). The Spirit and Christ are separate entities of one Godhead, and in Hildegard’s image, the air and the fiery force are distinct aspects of one concept.

As we saw earlier, Gregory placed viriditas in the history of redemption, demonstrating that the lack of “greenness” led to the necessity of redemption. Hildegard similarly traces the redemption starting at the beginning, the fall of Adam and Eve. Upon the sin of Adam and Eve, God expelled them from the Garden of Eden, but rather than banishing them totally from His presence, He shows his caritas by joining them together in a bond of faith providing Adam as the father of the human race from which their Savior, or the second Adam, will come.[28] Viriditas in this instance refers to the promised life Adam and Eve will have in their union with each other and with God:

Quapropter quicumque fidem hanc destruxerit et ita impenitens sine emendatione perduraverit, in terram Babilonis convertetur, videlicet in terram confusionis et ariditatis, que sic absque pulcra viriditate agri, id est benedictionis Dei, permanebit…[29]

Wherefore whoever destroys this faith and thus will persist in offense without reform, will be turned back to the land of Babylon, into the land of confusion and drought, and thus will remain without the beautiful greenness of the field, that is, the blessing of God.

Here viriditas is set in contrast with ariditas (drought), which shows the distinction of the vengeance and the blessing of God.  “Babylon” refers to the time of the Israelites’ exile as a result of their unfaithfulness to God and is used here as a metaphor of the separation from God upon disobedience. The imagery here is close to Gregory’s picture of the “desolate land,” the Church without viriditasAriditas characterizes the barrenness of the soul in this separation; viriditas, by contrast, characterizes the blessing of God as He remedies their severance from Him by uniting them to Himself through His caritas.

In each context, the word viriditas symbolizes an important concept of relating to God and to creation. Creation is the metaphor for how the Christian flourishes. As God created and sustains the earth, so He creates the “new life” of the Christian and causes this life to flourish. Viriditas is a picture of this particular kind of thriving, one that is created and preserved by God. In the same way, the only way the Christian can be free from “desolate land” of separation from God is God’s causing life to flourish, through the redemptive work of Christ and the sustaining work of the Spirit. Both occasions of viriditas in the opening of Hildegard’s Liber divinorum operum are in a context of the union of God with creation, from the fields to the human being.  They paint a picture of the blessing and life that results from communion with God.  And this context also shows that this communal blessing with God can only be from God in his grace, or caritas.[30]

We can see the same theological connotations of viriditas in Hildegard’s poetry as we can in her prose. A rich collection of her poetic works is contained in what is known as Symphonia armonia celestium revelationum. Interspersed in the poetic material are ecclesiastical songs, providing another layer in which to examine the significance of viriditas in Hildegard’s repertory. These are monophonic songs where the poetry and music are newly composed by Hildegard, and she claims that she received these songs in her visions.[31]

An analysis of the responsory O viriditas digiti Dei from Symphonia reiterates many of theological ideas surrounding viriditas that we have already examined.[32] The text of the responsory is as follows:[33]


O viriditas digiti Dei
in qua Deus constitui plantationem
que in excelso resplendet
ut statuta columna:
Tu gloriosa in preparatione Dei.
Et o altitudo montis
que numquam dissipaberis
in discretione Dei,
tu tamen stas a longe ut exul,
sed non est in potestate
qui te rapiat.
Tu gloriosa in preparatione Dei.
Gloria Patri et Filio
et Spiritui sancto.
Tu gloriosa in preparatione Dei.


O greenness of God’s finger
with which God built a vineyard
that shines in heaven
as an established pillar:
You are glorious in God’s preparation.
And o height of the mountain
that will never be dispersed
in the judgment of God,
you nevertheless stand from afar as an exile,
but it is not in the power
of the armed man
to seize you.
You are glorious in God’s preparation.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit.
You are glorious in God’s preparation.

The formal structure of the text is marked off by the refrain “Tu gloriosa in preparatione Dei,” beginning with the responsory, followed by the refrain, then the verse, the refrain, and concluding with the Gloria Patri and the refrain as the final statement. As the text of the refrain repeats, the music is also repeated, climactically punctuating the piece each time it is stated with a long melisma on “preparatione” reaching the highest registral boundaries of the piece, up to g from the final E. [34]

O Viriditas




Hildegard’s compositional style is characterized by the dramatic unfolding of melody through long melismas and extreme register providing the focus for analytic evaluation of the piece, both in terms of music and text, as one will inevitably point to the other.[35] Musical highlights point to textual highlights. The opening phrase “O viriditas digiti Dei” acts as a sort of intonation, establishing b as a central pitch, rising up to e, sinking as low as C, and approaching the final E from below by a step.  Most of the piece remains within the D−e range, with notable exceptions being the rise up to a in the refrain, as well as in the second phrase on the word plantationem.

Not only is the same height in register attained in preparationem and plantationem but they also have a melisma on the same part of the word, the penultimate syllable, though the melisma on preparationem is considerably longer, connecting these two words aurally and establishing them as key words.  Throughout the piece melismas of varying length are used to highlight what appear to be significant words in terms of overall meaning: digiti (finger), plantationem (vineyard), excelso (heaven), preparationem (preparation), altitudo (height), differentia (judgment), longe (afar), and armati (armed man), as well as the Gloria Patri section.

Inasmuch as melismas provide a musical highlight, they also serve to emphasize certain points in the key sections of the text.  The imagery of the text in this song is from the part of Isaiah 40 that speaks of preparing the way for the Lord and promising that every valley be lifted up and every mountain and hill made low.[36] With this in mind we can see that the song is about Christ, who is the “greenness of God’s finger” (viriditas digiti Dei) sent to earth to build the Church, the vineyard (plantationem).[37] More specifically, the song is about the coming of Christ “in God’s preparation” (in preparatione Dei).  It is important to note that in the phrase “tu gloriosa in preparatione Dei”, the adjective gloriosa is feminine, thus the subject “you” is a feminine subject, perhaps further pointing to the nativity of Christ with Mary as his bearer.  “Preparation” takes on multiple layers; the way of the Lord has been prepared, but Mary is also prepared to bear the Lord. Perhaps the earth, as a metaphor for the Church, is also prepared to receive the growing and sustaining of viriditas.

Christ is also “the height of the mountain”. By stepping back to remember the Scriptural context, we can note the many times in his ministry on earth he was found on the mountaintop.  In one notable instance at the beginning of his ministry, Satan, as the one who is armed, led Christ out into the wilderness “as an exile” and tempted him.  Among the temptations Satan took Christ to the top of a mountain, promising ownership of all he saw if he would only worship Satan, but he was not able to seize Christ.[38] The end of Christ’s time on earth is also a mountaintop, upon which he was crucified and where he faced God’s judgment for the world’s sin, yet conquered it in his resurrection.[39]

Christ’s victory over Satan on the mountaintop of his temptation points to an even greater triumph of Christ in his redemption of his people, the vineyard, which was the purpose of his advent.  The implication of Christ as redeemer adds substance to our broader understanding of viriditas, of spiritual communion with God that God Himself has enabled through Christ’s effectual work on the cross.

In our final analysis of the song we can see that the musically significant moments, which were set off by melismas, are also hermeneutically significant.  The finger (digiti) of God built a vineyard (plantationem), the Church, which will shine in heaven (excelso) forever.  The advent of Christ occurs through God’s preparation (preparatione), while his ministry takes place on a mountain (altitudo) from afar (longe), ending on the mountain where he satisfies the judgment (discretione) of God, finally defeating sin and Satan (armati). Through the use of melismas and registral extremes, Hildegard interprets the text of her poem musically by showing us which are the important words in the piece.

It is quite likely that Hildegard intended her songs to be used in the Mass and Divine Office.[40] In this context, we see a merging of the theology in her prose works and the act of worship of God in her songs, demonstrating clearly her understanding of the direct connection of her doctrine to her daily Christian spirituality, made all the more acute in viriditas, a word expressing this connection fully as God communes with His people.

In each case of Gregory and Hildegard, the word viriditas has a meaning with respect to a Christian’s spiritual life that goes beyond mere references to life, fecundity, or freshness.  Viriditas implies a particular understanding of the nature of creation and the sovereignty of God.  Both authors saw a fallen creation in need of God’s redemptive action to save both the earth and themselves, and they both saw this work able to be done only by God Himself. The passages from each author represent a variety of literary forms–a methodical commentary, prose inspired from a vision, and an ecclesiastical song, but the context for viriditas is handled in remarkably similar ways. In each case, the history of redemption is briefly outlined. The time before Christ’s coming is the desolate land or wilderness as the Christian lives in exile from God–a time of lack of viriditas. In order to regain a relationship with God, Christ must come and his work on the cross restores that relationship. So that the life of the Christian after Christ is one thriving and flourishing. Viriditas is a complex term that encompasses this redemptive background and a continued growing and prospering through a relationship with God.

[1] For a thorough discussion of Hildegard’s life and writings see the chapter on Hildegard in Peter Dronke’s Women Writers in the Middle Ages: A Critical Study of Texts from Perpetua to Marguerite Porete (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1984).

[2] Hildegard of Bingen, Symphonia armonie celestium revelationum, 2d ed., Tranlsated, edited, and introduction by Barbara Newman (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1998) 150.

[3] Hyperion CDA66039 (1984) “A Feather on the Breath of God:” Sequences and Hymns by Abbess Hildegard of Bingen, Gothic Voices, directed and translated by Christoper Page, liner notes; Hildegard, Symphonia, 150;  BMGClassic/DeutscheHM 05472-77-320-2 (1994) Canticles of Ecstasy , Sequentia,  translated by Lawrence Rosenwald, liner notes; Hildegard, Symphonia, 150.

[4] Peter Dronke, The Medieval Poet and his World (Rome: Edizioni di Storia e Letteratura, 1984), 82-7; Anne H. King-Lenzmeier, An Integrated Vision (Collegeville, Minn.: The Liturgical Press, 2001), 6-7; Barbara Newman, Voice of the Living Light (Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press, 1998), 56-61.

[5] Hildegardis Bingensis, Liber divinorum operum, ed. A. Derolez and P. Dronke, vol. 92, Corpus Christianorum, Continuatio Mediaevalis (Turnhout: Brepols, 1996), xvi-xvii. Hereafter ‘CC’.

[6] I have conducted more recent searches that may fuel future research in the online database of Patrologiae Latinae that show that viriditas appears in hundreds of works by many medieval theologians. For the purposes of this paper, I will limit myself to works of Gregory, as a church father and frequent authority in medieval writings.

[7] CC 92, xvi-xvii.

[8] Matthew Baasten, Pride According to Gregory the Great: A Study of the Moralia, vol. 7, Studies in the Bible and Early Christianity (Lewiston, N.Y.: The Edwin Mellen Press, 1986) 53-54.  See also Baasten’s introduction in which he offers a convincing and succinct summary of Gregory’s exegetical framework.

[9] Gregorii Magni, Moralia in Iob, ed. Marci Adriaen, vol. 143B, Corpus Christianorum, Continuatio Mediaevalis (Turnhout: Brepols, 1985).

[10] Job 38.27 (Bib. Sac.) “Ut impleret inviam et desolatam et produceret herbas virentes?”

[11] CC 143B. 1469. 5-9.

[12] CC 143B. 1469 31-34. Et ait germinet terra herbam virentem et facientem semen et lignum pomiferum faciens fructum iuxta genus suum cuius semen in semet ipso sit super terram et factum est ita.

[13] Si qua ergo in Christo nova creatura vetera transierunt ecce facta sunt nova.

[14] CC 143B. 1470. 39-52.

[15] CC 143B. 1470. 60-62.

[16] Baasten, Pride According to Gregory the Great, 54.

[17] Ian D. Bent and Marianne Pfau, “Hildegard of Bingen” in Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online, accessed 16 January 2012,

[18] Newman, Voice of the Living Light, 68.

[19] Ibid., 56-57. It may be of interest that this image (the resplendent, crowned individual) in the opening of this vision is similar to the image in the opening of Scivias–an important earlier work in Hildegard’s vision literature.

[20] CC 92, 46-47, 1-20.

[21] CC 92, pp. 48, ll. 5-12, 20-23. Trans. Derolez and Dronke, LDO, introduction, xxxviii-xxxix.

[22] CC 92. 50. 10-12. See also commentary in Derolez and Dronke, LDO, introduction, xxxix.

[23] Referring to the Son as the Word also foreshadows Hildegard’s later discussion of the first chapter of the Gospel of John in the LDO, which begins, echoing Scripture, “in principio erat verbum.”  CC 92. 248. 1ff.

[24] John 1.29-34.

[25] CC 92. 55. 5-7.  See Genesis 3.14-15; Psalm 90.13 for references of Christ’s crushing the serpent.

[26] CC 92. 56-57.

[27] Note on Latin: “sum” is the verb “I am.” To make this emphatic, sometimes the first person pronoun “ego” (“I”) is used in addition. Several instances where Christ uses the the “Ego sum” construction include John 10.14 “Ego sum pastor bonum.” (I am the good shepherd), John 11.25 “ego sum resurrectio et vita” (I am the resurrection and the life.), John 14.6 “ego sum via et veritas et vita” (I am the way and the truth and the life.), and John 15.1 “ego sum vitis vera” (I am the true vine.), to name just a few.

[28] CC 92. 57-58.

[29] CC 92. 57. 10-13. Translation mine.

[30] Communion with God is a central aspect of Christian doctrine, evidenced in the centrality of the sacraments in Christian worship. As a Benedictine abbess, regular observance of the mass and participation in the divine office would likely have left in her life an indelible print of this communion.

[31] Marianne Richert Pfau, “Music and Text in Hildegard’s Antiphons,” in Hildegard, Symphonia, 74-75, and Ritva Jonsson and Leo Treitler, “Medieval Music and Language: A Reconsideration of the Relationship,” in Studies in the History of Music, vol. 1, Musica and Language (New York: Broude Bros., 1983), 1-23.

[32] For discussion of approach to analysis see Pfau, “Music and Text,” 79-82.

[33] Hildegard, Symphonia, 182.

[34]Pitches are labeled according to the medieval gamut: Gamma, A B C D E F G a b/b-flat c d e f g a’ b’ c’ d’.

[35] Pfau, “Music and Text,” 78-79.

[36] Isaiah 40.3-4.

[37] John 15.1-17.

[38] Matthew 4.8-11. Sed non est in potestate armati qui te rapiat.

[39] Matthew 27.32-56, 28.1-10; Luke 24.26-27.

[40] Newman, Symphonia, 12.