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Happy New Year’s Resolution!

On this third day of 2023, I am recording my New Year’s resolution here, so that I remember it and try to stick to it!

My resolution for 2023 is to expand the notion of kindness, which is for me an essential element on our road to peace and happiness, to encompass kindness to myself. I will continue to do the very best I can – in particular in those areas which I see as my priorities – but I hereby resolve not to beat myself up any more for the mistakes I make along the way.

Happy New Year to you all, may it be happy and bright, and may the road be paved with kindness and consideration – not violence, cruelty and ignorance.

Project Hildegard #41(2)

Here is my version of Hildegard von Bingen’s kyrie eleison:

kyrie eleison – have mercy

Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy. Lord have mercy.

I took this picture of a double-headed eagle on our recent trip to Greece. Symbol of Byzantium and an important image for the Greece orthodox church, it seems an appropriate accompaniment to the only remaining Greek text in the Roman Mass.

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Project Hildegard #41

Only two of Hildegard von Bingen’s chants are directly linked to the Mass. The alleluia o virgo mediatrix, for which I have already made an a cappella setting, and the kyrie eleison. The kyrie is interesting, as it apparently borrows heavily from another chant – o lucidissima apostolorum turba – one of the chants whose text features in Hildegard’s first book of visions (Scivias) and which is generally considered to be one of her earlier chants. More on this later, when I record and revisit o lucidissima 🙂

kyrie eleison

Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy. Lord have mercy.

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This project is on SoundCloud

Project Hildegard #40 (2)

The B natural / B flat ambiguity in the manuscript inspired me to play around with two different modes for the revisiting of this one – one starting on D (transposed to A) and one starting on E. Hope you like it!

o choruscans lux – shining gem

photo by Dario Brönnimann on Unsplash

o glittering starlight o most splendid and special form of regal marriage o shining gem you are adorned like a noble lady with no spotted wrinkle and you are a companion of angels and a citizen among saints flee, flee the cave of the old betrayer and come, come into the king’s palace

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This project is on SoundCloud

Project Hildegard #39 (2)

This one has been a while coming. I first recorded Hildegard’s hymn o ignee spiritus back in June, but then life got in the way and I’ve only just been able to finish my revisiting more than three months later.

From the start of this project my method has been to first record the chant freely, and then to compose my polyphonic version based on and inspired by that free interpretation. Usually, I have simply reused my original recording and wrapped my music around it. This time, however, partly to see whether it would be possible to perform this piece live, I decided to reverse engineer it – after writing my piece, I first recorded the cello accompaniment and then rerecorded the voice last of all, copying as far as possible my original interpretation. The challenge was to recreate the freedom of that first interpretation while still fitting the voice with the cellos. I think it works pretty well – but anyone who’s curious to hear the original interpretation will find it here.

o ignee spiritus – gives taste to the soul

the noxious apple…

Fiery spirit praise be to you who works through drums and psalteries.

Human minds blaze through you and the tabernacle of their souls contains their powers.

From where the will ascends and gives taste to the soul and desire is its light.

Intellect calls you with the sweetest voice and prepares rationally made dwellings for you which exude golden works.

Yet you always have a sword to cut away what the noxious apple offers through blackest murder.

When a mist covers will and desires in which the soul flies and circles aimlessly.

But the mind ties will and desire together.

Indeed when the spirit rouses itself because the evil eye and the jaws of villainy demand it you quickly consume it in your flame when you so wish.

But when rationality too through wicked deeds prostrates itself you bind it tight and break it when you wish to and restore it by the influx of experience.

And when wickedness draws its sword against you you plunge it back into its heart as you did with the first fallen angel when you flung the tower of his pride into hell.

And there you built another tower raised from publicans and sinners who confess to you their sins and their deeds.

So all creatures that have life through you praise you for you are the most precious ointment for broken and fetid wounds which you change into the most precious gems.

Now allow us all to gather in you and guide us on the path of righteousness.

Amen.

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