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O, Ignis Spiritus Paracliti — for alternating soprano solo, treble voices(R. B.)
  • O, Ignis Spiritus Paracliti — for alternating soprano solo, treble voices(R. B.)


    Have you ever wondered what sort of work goes into arranging a hymn — or, more specifically, a musical sequence? Is it crafting orchestrations (use of instrumental colors) based on the demands of the Latin text? Is it the task of objectifying such text as it would be heard for the first time? Is it creating adjustments and contrasts between sections to honor the incessantly alternating form of the piece? Is it the labor of typesetting music to be accessibly played, sung, and understood by cantors/choirs/instrumentalists?

    If you answered "all the above and more" — you are correct.

    In my process of arranging one of St. Hildegard of Bingen's haunting texts, "O, Ignis Spiritus Paracliti," the Latin text, its English translation, and the score itself are considered greatly to edify the viewer/listener as to see the role of both the composer and her arranger. In this case, a small chamber ensemble accompanies a trio consort of treble singers, who alternate between solo and ensemble.

    Saint Hildegard von Bingen, named in 2012 by Pope Benedict as a Doctor of the Church, was a Benedictine nun and polymath — active as a scientist, linguist/author, physician, musician, and mystic, among dozens of other titles. She is documented as one of the first documented female composers in the Western art canon, having lived from 1098–1179. Her "O, ignis Spiritus paracliti," where she both authored the text and composed the chant, functions as a Sequence to the Holy Spirit, often grouped with their companion antiphon (Spiritus sanctus vivificans) and hymn (O ignee Spiritus).

    Nathaniel M. Campbell writes that "through Hildegard’s unique recasting of the sequence form, in which “she makes each pair [of versicles] melodically similar, at times identical, yet [with] a trace of asymmetry” (Dronke, Poetic Individuality, p. 158), it maintains a rhythm both steady and dynamic to express the Holy Spirit’s role as root of nature and as anima mundi, “the soul of the world".... Hildegard’s symbolic-poetic mode excels in connecting “the highest levels of contemplative knowledge (of divinity itself) with the lowest levels of concrete images and artifacts” as she envisions each particular image in the light of the entire scope of salvation history."


    For more info, view it at the online catalog here!

    Soprano Voice Feature

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