Lament, Liturgy and the End of Time in Hildegard of Bingen’s Ordo Virtutum
University of Notre Dame
Friday, Dec. 3, 4:30, Woolworth 102
This presentation is based on chapters from Margot Fassler’s forthcoming book Cosmos, Liturgy, and the Arts in the Twelfth Century: Hildegard’s Illuminated Scivias (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2022). The emphasis here is on Hildegard’s sung play, the Ordo Virtutum, and one aspect of that play, the laments that are found within it and set in the tonal area of E. These laments characterize both the singing of the congregate group of virtues and of the trapped soul. Two of the most complicated chants in the play will be discussed in some detail, “O plangens vox” and “O vivens fons” which are bookends in the soul’s journey from sin sickness to redemption. A third chant to be studied is found at the end of the play “In principio.” The text that was deeply meaningful to Hildegard for she quoted it again and commented upon it also in her treatise On the Divine Works. Fassler interprets the chant as it related to the cosmos, as Hildegard understood it, and to the inevitable end of time that comes with the achieving of the Golden Number referenced in this lamenting chant text.
Faculty, Keough-Hesburgh Professor of Music History and Liturgy, Director of the Program of Sacred Music, Professor of Musicology and Ethnomusicology; Robert Tangeman Professor of Music History, emerita, Yale University.
Margot Fassler is renowned for her work at the intersection of musicology and theology and is a specialist in sacred music of several periods. Her book Gothic Song (2nd edition, Notre Dame Press, 2011), won both the John Nicolas Brown Prize of the Medieval Academy of America and the Otto Kinkeldey Prize of the American Musicological Society. Her interdisciplinary approach is demonstrated in her book, The Virgin of Chartres: Making History through Liturgy and the Arts (Yale University Press), a study informed by close work with architecture. The book has won both the Ace Mercers’ International Book Award (for a book on art and religion) and the 2012 Otto Gründler Book Prize (for a book in medieval studies).
Recent publications include with Jeffery Hamburger, Eva Schlotheuber, and Susan Marti, Life and Latin Learning at Paradies bei Soest, 1300-1425: Inscription and Illumination in the Choir Books of a North German Dominican Convent. 2 vols. Munster: Aschendorff Verlag, 2016; editor, with Katie Bugyis and Andrew Kraebel, Medieval Cantors and Their Craft: Music, Liturgy, and the Shaping of History, York Medieval Press of Boydell and Brewer, 2017 (Also on JSTOR); Music in the Medieval West. New York: WWNorton, 2014; and its Anthology, 2015. Essays that have recently appeared are “Women and their Sequences” in Speculum (July, 2019); and “Liturgical History and Hagiography as Reflected in the Ordinal of Nivelles, with Emphasis on the Cult of St Gertrude,” found in The Liber ordinarius of Nivelles (Houghton Library, MS Latin 422): Liturgy as Interdisiciplinary Interection, ed. Eva Schlotheuber and Jeffrey Hamburger (Tubingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2020).
Prof. Fassler has been a Member of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, the Center of Theological Inquiry in Princeton, and a Luce Faculty Fellow in Theology. She has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and as a Fellow of the Medieval Academy, and has been named a Honorary Member of the American Musicological Society. In 2018, Fassler was President of the Medieval Academy of America, and in 2019-2020, she was a Fellow of the Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University.