Hildegard of Bingen was a woman of great influence in her own time and has become the subject of ever increasing interest in hours. Today her genius as a composer is widely recognized, and hers is the only existing substantive body of sacred music composed by a woman of the Middle Ages. Hildegard's first and most important book, Scivias ("Know the Ways") includes her 36 visions with commentaries she also wrote books on nature and help as well as several theological commentaries. It is on these writings that translator Gabriele Uhlein's book, "Meditations with Hildegard of Bingen" is based. The goodness of creation is at the center of Hildegard's theology. She coined the theological usage of the Latin word, viriditas, which she defined as "greening power" – the creative force that is inherent in all life and which calls us forth to be fruitful , vibrant co-creators with the Divine. This was this concept and my own experience with the "greening power" of music that moved me to give the name Viriditas to the women's vocal ensemble I formed and conducted from in 1994-2002. The choral setting, "Viriditas" was the first piece I composed for this select ensemble.
Hildegard, known as the Sibyl of the Rhine was a mystic. From a very young age she saw all things in the living light of God through her five senses. Uhlein writes that Hildegard dares us to "enjoy the ecstasy of God." I imagined that the words I have set here were received by Hildegard in one of her visions. The opening measures of "Viriditas" sound as the perpetual, pulsing praise of the Creator by creation. I have interpreted the first person narrator of the text as the voice of viriditas— of greening. Hildegard believed that this greening moistens and cracks open the most hardened of hearts, calling forth compassion. ("the yearning for good") The tone throughout this piece is joyful, ecstatic, and filled with awe at the wonder of creation.
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