O clarissima Mater : Work information

Hildegard of Bingen ( Music, Images,)
Performed by
Concordia Lutheran College Chapel Choir

This work

Work name
O clarissima Mater
Work number
1145-01-01 02:01:00

This recording

Dr Frederick J. Bashour
Dr Frederick J. Bashour
Recording date
1995-05-01 01:00:00

Track listing

  • 9:54 min

The Composers

Hildegard of Bingen

Hildegard of Bingen was the tenth child in her family; as such, it was by no means certain that her parents would be able to provide for her.  Customs suggested that she be dedicated to the church.  Although it was not until the age of eight that she officially began her religious life, Hildegard had her first mystical vision at the age of three.  However she kept this her secret for many years, telling only a monk and her new guardian, Jutta.  Jutta was an Anchoress, one who had elected to be essentially cut off from the world.  She lived in a small cell with only a small hatch for food and a small door for young children such as Hildegard.  Jutta taught Hildegard rudimentary Latin, but even when an adult she still needed to dictate her works.

Jutta died when Hildegard was aged 38, and she was elected replacement head of the convent.  Hildegard's visions were becaming more and more powerful, and she felt compelled to write religious texts.  One of her themes was the divisions in the church at the time, and her writings eventually reached Pope Eugenius, who sent back words of encouragement.  She became well known in Germany as a result of her efforts and the convent increased in numbers.  In order to accommodate her new acolytes, in 1150 Hildegard moved the convent to Bingen and it is here that she began to compose.

Hildegard wrote mainly plainchant and antiphons honouring the saints, but her most remarkable work was Ordo Virtuum, a musical play with strong moral themes.  There is evidence to suggest that like the religious works it was performed at her convent.  She also wrote much in the spirit of scientific inquiry, including much about female sexuality which, for the time (and for a nun!), seems remarkably frank.