Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Columba aspexit...

I have said before that one of my liturgical interests is the plethora of Sequences in the Latin Rite. All but four were suppressed by the Missal of Pius V, a grievous loss in my opinion. I guess all that ''organic development'' of the Liturgy demanded their curtailment. Anyway, one of my favourite Medieval Sequences is the Columba aspexit, composed by Hildegard von Bingen, a 12th century German Benedictine mystic in honour of St Maximinus, the 4th century Bishop of Trier. I must find out more about this pious woman, she was clearly very gifted and apparently had visions (which modern science attributes to migraines!). Anyway, you can listen to Emma Kirkby chant the beautiful Sequence on YouTube. Here is the text:

Columba aspexit
per cancellos fenestrae
ubi ante faciem eius
sudando sudavit balsamum
de lucido Maximino.

Calor solis exarsit
et in tenebras resplenduit
unde gemma surrexit
in aedificatione templi
purissimi cor dis benevoli.

Iste turris excelsa,
de ligno Libani et cupresso facta,
iacincto et sardio ornata est,
urbs praecellens artes
aliorum artificium.

Ipse velox cervus cucurrit
ad fontem purissimae aquae
fluentis de fortissimo lapide
qui dulcia aromata irrigavit.

O pigmentari
qui estis in suavissima viriditate
hortorum regis,
ascendentes in altum
quando sanctum sacrificium
in arietibus perfecistis.

Inter vos fulget hic artifex,
paries templi,
qui desideravit alas aquilae
osculando nutricem Sapientiam
in gloriosa fecunditate Ecclesiae.

O Maximine,
mons et vallis es,
et in utroque alta aedificatio appares,
ubi capricornus cum elephante exivit,
et Sapientia in deliciis fuit.

Tu es fortis
et suavis in caerimoniis
et in coruscatiane altaris,
ascendens ut fumus aromatum
ad columnam laudis.

Ubi intercedis pro populo
qui tendit ad speculum lucis,
cui laus est in altis.

I must do a thorough translation of this when I get the time. The eighth stanza reads: ''Thou art strong and sweet in the ceremonies and in the shining [coruscatione seems to connote tremulous light, like that of the sun seen through the leaves of trees] of the Altar, ascending as an aromatic smoke to the column of praise.'' Notice how strange the style of pronunciation is, it's neither purely Classical nor Ecclesiastical but a strange mix of the two! Enjoy!

1 comment:

  1. Dear Singulare Ingenium. Really enjoyed this Post on Hildegard von Bingen. Spooky, really, as I had only been reading about her life, this morning, and found a most interesting article on Wikipedia (it used the same illustration you have used in your Post). I have E-Mailed it to you, as the article is too long to put in your Comment Box, herewith. Keep up the good work.