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Project Hildegard #30

On December 28th, it was the feast day in honour of the Holy Innocents. I have to admit that I had to double-check this one. It refers to the massacre by King Herod of all male children of two years old and under in and around Bethlehem. The Catholic Church regards them as the first Christian martyrs. Hildegard von Bingen wrote a responsory for them:

rex noster promptus est suscipere sanguinem innocentum

Our king is prompt to receive the blood of the innocents of whom the angels sing and make sound in praise but the clouds weep for the same blood. The tyrant however is suffocated by his own malice in the heavy sleep of death. But the clouds weep for the same blood. Glory be to the father and to the son and to the holy ghost. But the clouds weep for the same blood.

The Riesencodex begins this chant on a D. I am treating this as a clerical error.

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Project Hildegard #29 (2)

Here is my latest – intended for the six voice ensemble La Noeva. The title comes from the middle section “o mira floriditas.” The idea of the mirror (from the opening text: “o mirror of the dove”) is reflected in some of the opening phrases that have been given an upside-down counterpart… And for the first time I have introduced some hockets at the end – a little reference to the hockets used in medieval music to share a single line between two or more voices.

o speculum columbe – o wonderful flowering

o mirror of the dove in chaste form, who inspected the mysterious abundance of the purest fountain o wonderful flowering that never withered and fell because the high gardener put you there o sweetest quiet of the sun’s embraces you are the special son of the lamb in the elect friendship of the new issue

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Project Hildegard #29

I have a bit of a backlog. It was the feast day of Saint John the Evangelist on December 27th. Here is a soft, sweet chant dedicated to him:

o speculum columbe

o mirror of the dove in chaste form, who inspected the mysterious abundance of the purest fountain o wondrous flowering that never withered and fell because the high gardener put you there o sweetest quiet of the sun’s embraces you are the special son of the lamb in the elect friendship of the new issue

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Project Hildegard #28 (2)

This one has turned into a prayer of thanks. Originally inspired by the idea of a wheel constantly turning (“in medio rote”), I have in fact decided to dedicate it to zoom, and all the other digital forms of communication that have been so important to us over the last nine months, and particularly at Christmas time. The reason is these words: “when you could no longer see him bodily you perfected the signs in fullness in his shadow,” which make (for me) Saint Eucharius the patron saint of digital communication 🙂

o euchari – the wheel

All the chants in this project are recorded totally freely, without any preconceived tempo. What I love about my “revisiting” process is that often one particular tempo will settle best on the freely-recorded chant. It’s true that when I set a chant, I will move some of the phrase beginnings to fall more neatly within that tempo, but the editing is really minimal. And here’s the wonderful thing: new rhythmic figures emerge as I listen to the chant with a metronome beat at my chosen speed, and phrases often fall into a rhythm that I hadn’t at all foreseen when I first recorded the chant – a case in point is the “twos against threes element” in this one, o euchari – the wheel.

o eucharius, the dove gave you his power by way of signs the power of him who cried out in the middle of the wheel when you could no longer see him bodily you perfected the signs in fullness in his shadow and so on his breast you glittered and set your seal upon the cherubim when you could no longer see him bodily you perfected the signs in fullness in his shadow

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This project is now on SoundCloud

Project Hildegard #28

It’s the end of the year, and suddenly there’s a flurry of feast days with related chants. I’m never going to get them all done in time, but will work my way methodically through the list.

On December 8th, it was the feast day of Saint Eucharius, and I’ve been trying to record it since then 🙂 Here it is, finally:

o euchari columba…

o eucharius, the dove gave you his power by way of signs the power of him who cried out in the middle of the wheel when you could no longer see him bodily you perfected the signs in fullness in his shadow and so on his breast you glittered and set your seal upon the cherubim when you could no longer see him bodily you perfected the signs in fullness in his shadow

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This project is now on SoundCloud