I read the story of Hildegard many years before I had heard the music. I have published a link to the ‘irupert’ Hildegard site on the right column of links, and an image of ‘ O Vos Felices Radices’.
I first heard ‘The origin of Fire’ in Mayo at a point just South West of the Reek, which is the local name for Croagh Patrick, on those few days that led to the New Year in 2005 , just after the Aceh Tsunami (which very directly effected a close family member).
We seemed to have appalling percussive weather and had gone (possibly insanely) to a local beach near the base of the reek, we were literally blown out of the car.
On arriving home and being truely miserable, someone had put on a Hildegard disc and had lit candles. There was the smell of cooking.
The room filled with her song and the news emerging from Phuket was good, we did not know that there was another dying being accomplished and that the Hildegard was an oasis of calm and beauty in that horrible time. I would encourage everyone to read the depths of her visions, with the awareness that she spent her whole life in praise and composition.
The images most general to her (of her affliction) show a flame striking her forehead, and her scribe/confessor. It’s over 900 years since the compositions but the quality of contemporary interpretations are excellent– however it’s not something I would seek to listen to everyday.
Along with Julian of Norwich, Hildegard’s work is outstanding in times when education for women was limited to church and mostly the males did the vision thing. Julian’s use of Amirah– or it’s english language equivalent transcends the religious content, but the context of those lives provided the poetic tension and purity of expression.
‘The Ordo Virtum’ – (The play of Virtues) and ‘Symphonia Armonie Celestium Revealationum’ comprise the major works. These number 77 songs/antiphons. It is amazing how much you lose as you get a bit distant from education. In school we studied antiphon form and even sang a few – but most of the time we were too distracted by other things to pay much attention.