Ave Maria

Here’s one more chant by Saint Hildegard, and this time I include a bit of the commentaries on the songs which you can find at the site of the International Society to which I link.

This page has the text, video, sheet music and commentaries. A wonderful resource.

Some excerpts from the very interesting commentary:

“In the Dendermonde manuscript, the songs to Mary are found between the songs to God and those dedicated to the Holy Spirit, perhaps because Hildegard associated the second person of the Trinity so closely with the woman from whose womb he was born in human flesh. […] Though Mary only rarely appears as a visionary figure in Hildegard’s theological writings, the sixteen songs addressed to her in the Symphonia are the most dedicated to any one figure.”

“Beverly Lomer has argued elsewhere that the Marian repertory would have been primarily intended for performance by the nuns of Hildegard’s community, and therefore, unlike the theological books that were written for an outside audience, would have been free from external scrutiny (see Lomer’s work in “Further Resources” below). The unconventional imagery and almost divine agency that Hildegard assigns to Mary in the songs would support this supposition. While the more typical contemporary depiction of Mary’s role was that of mediatrix, in Hildegard’s Mariology, she assumes the status of an essential partner in the redemptory scheme.”

“The opening respond also showcases one of Hildegard’s most characteristic Marian themes, of the Virgin Mother healing the brokenness brought into the world by the first mother, Eve. The image of Mary treading down and crushing the head of the serpent (contrivisti, conculcasti) is a classic fulfillment of God’s words of punishment to the serpent in Genesis 3:15—but Hildegard adds her own unique spin on the theme by imagining that crushing as the tearing down of the tower of death that Eve constructed as she stretched out her neck “with puffed-up pride” at the serpent’s beckoning.”

R. Ave Maria,
O auctrix vite,
reedificando salutem,
que mortem conturbasti
et serpentem contrivisti,
ad quem se Eva erexit
erecta cervice
cum sufflatu superbie.
Hunc conculcasti
dum de celo Filium Dei genuisti,

R. quem inspiravit
Spiritus Dei.

V. O dulcissima atque amantissima
mater, salve,
que natum tuum
de celo missum mundo edidisti:

R. quem inspiravit
Spiritus Dei.

Gloria Patri et Filio
et Spiritui sancto.

R. Quem inspiravit
Spiritus Dei.

R. Hail Mary,
O authoress of life,
rebuilding up salvation’s health,
for death you have disturbed,
that serpent crushed
to whom Eve raised herself,
her neck outstretched
with puffed-up pride.
That serpent’s head you ground to dust
when heaven’s Son of God you bore,

R. on whom has breathed
God’s Spirit.

V. O sweet and most beloved
mother, hail!
Your Son
from heaven sent you gave unto the world:

R. on whom has breathed
God’s Spirit.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit.

R. On him has breathed
God’s Spirit.