Music History 211
Flanangan, Sabina . Hildegard of Bingen, A Visionary Life. New York: Routlege, 1989.
This book mainly focuses on the life of Hildegard as a spiritualist and a healer, as do most books that were written about her. It begins by outlining the basic events of her life and death; her illness as a child, her education at a convent by a woman named Jutta, and the visions she saw from an early age. She regarded these visions as gifts from God but was reluctant to share them with the world until one critical dream. “And it came to pass…when I was forty-two years and seven months old that the heavens were opened up and a blinding light… flowed through my entire brain… and I suddenly understood the meanings of the expositions of the books…” (Ch. 1, 4) This is how she describes her instantaneous understanding of the books of the bible, and is compelled to begin to write all of her visions down for the remainder of her lifetime. The book goes on to describe her daily life as the leader of a growing community of nuns, which she moved from her home town to the are of Bingen. It goes into detail of her writings on dietary needs of people of all types, spiritual needs of everyday people and then her role as a healer, showing her knowledge of plants and herbs for medicine. There is only one chapter on the musical career of Hildegard, and it mainly focuses on her lyrical style, which was quite different from other liturgical composers at the time. She followed the musical style of the period, and mostly wrote responsorial and antiphons. But the way she wrote her lyrics differed in that she was so much more visual. Her songs have a lot of metaphors and are quite emotional. An example is an antiphon written for a martyr named St Boniface. “O Boniface, the living light saw you, like a wise man, who returned to their source, the pure waters flowing from God, when you watered the greenness of the flowers. So you are the friend of the...
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