Ordo Virtutum: Hildegard of Bingen (c.1151)

Hildegard_of_Bingen_Rupertsberg_Scivias_Fol_192r_III-9_Tower_of_the_Church_and_4_VirtuesHildegard of Bingen was, by any standard an extraordinary woman.  While most writers of the Middle Ages now languish in obscurity, she stands out as an author, painter, mystic, and composer.  The work highlighted today is known as Ordo Virtutum or The Play of Virtues.  It is the first musical drama in history and one of the earliest examples of a morality play.

As Terry Glaspey writes in  75 Masterpieces Every Christian Should Know :

Hildegard’s music is generally much more dramatic than the typical chant of her times, with soaring and leaping and swirling melodies, deeply expressive emotion, and a wide sonic range. It is characterized by both rich sensuousness and purity of sound, as though she were trying to bring heaven and earth together in her music. Melodic phrases are stretched and contracted to create the soaring arches of sound that typify her style and make most other contemporary chant seem mild-mannered and stately when set beside Hildegard’s richly expressive compositions. Hildegard’s musical expressiveness was also reflective of her personal style. She was a woman who loved beautiful clothing, fragrant scents, and shimmering gemstones. She would, on occasion, even allow the nuns under her care to dress themselves in more extravagant costumes than were normally allowed for cloistered women, or allow them to let their hair grow long and remain uncovered, sometimes even crowned with flowers.

Hildegard of Bingen was born in 1098 to noble parents at Bermersheim in the Rhineland, the youngest of ten children. As was common at the time, this tenth child was offered as a tithe to the church when she was eight years old and sent to the Benedictine monastery at Disibodenberg. Trained by the small community of nuns there, she joined the religious life and learned how to recite and sing the Latin Psalter. When the abbess died, Hildegard, who had already shown herself to be a natural leader, was chosen as her successor.

 

How did Hildegard’s circumstances shape her life?


John 1: 1-5

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

 

D I G  D E E P E R


Ordo Virtutum, Hildegard of Bingen

Stranded in Time: How the Metaphysical and Physical are Necessarily Linked by Kate Thomsen Gremillion

Hildegard of Bingen. Mystical Writings. New York: Crossroad, 1993.
Hildegard von Bingen in Portrait: Ordo Virtutum. DVD. Directed by Michael Fields. Forked River, NJ: Kultur Video, 2008.
Jaoudi, Maria. Medieval and Renaissance Spirituality. Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 2010.
Sukowa, Barbara. Vision: From the Life of Hildegard von Bingen. DVD. Directed by Margarethe von Trotta. New York: Zeitgeist Video, 2011.

 

Terry Glaspey

 

Terry Glaspey

I’m really looking forward to discussing my book, “75 Masterpieces Every Christian Should Know,” with the members of Literary Life Book Club. I can’t wait to hear your thoughts and perspectives on some of the art, music, and literature you’ll discover in the book. I’m interested in how it speaks to you in your life and the ways it inspires, challenges, or maybe even annoys you! I’ll try to share some “deleted scenes” stuff I had to leave out and will tell a few stories about what I experienced while doing the writing and research. Hope that many of you can join us as we look at he stories behind some truly wonderful art.

Let’s explore together!

Terry

Join the discussion with Terry on Facebook HERE

Terry Glaspey is a writer, an editor, a creative mentor, and someone who finds various forms of art—painting, films, novels, poetry, and music—to be some of the places where he most deeply connects with God.

He has a master’s degree in history from the University of Oregon (Go Ducks!), as well as undergraduate degrees emphasizing counseling and pastoral studies.

He has written over a dozen books, including 75 Masterpieces Every Christian Should Know:  Fascinating Stories Behind Great Art, Music, Literature, and Film, Not a Tame Lion: The Spiritual Legacy of C.S. Lewis, The Prayers of Jane Austen, 25 Keys to Life-Changing Prayer, Bible Basics for Everyone, and others.

Terry enjoys writing and speaking about a variety of topics including creativity and spirituality, the artistic heritage of the Christian faith, the writing of C.S. Lewis, and creative approaches to apologetics.

He serves on the board of directors of the Society to Explore and Record Church History and is listed in Who’s Who in America Terry has been the recipient of a number of awards, including a distinguished alumni award and the Advanced Speakers and Writers Editor of the Year award.

Terry has two daughters and lives in Eugene, Oregon.

Dig Deeper at TerryGlaspey.com

 

Some of the greatest painters, musicians, architects, writers, filmmakers, and poets have taken their inspiration from their faith and impacted millions of people with their stunning creations. Now readers can discover the stories behind seventy-five of these masterpieces and the artists who created them. From the art of the Roman catacombs to Rembrandt to Makoto Fujimura; from Gregorian Chant to Bach to U2; from John Bunyan and John Donne to Flannery O’Connor and Frederick Buechner; this book unveils the rich and varied artistic heritage left by believers who were masters at their craft.

Terry Glaspey, 75 Masterpieces Every Christian Should Know: The Fascinating Stories behind Great Works of Art, Literature, Music, and Film (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2015).

Order it HERE today.

Beauty In The Common by Kate Thomsen Gremillion

The Weight Of Glory
C.S. Lewis

“There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously – no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption.”


Kate Thomsen Gremillion

This week’s feature is Aaron Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man. The piece was written in 1942 for the Cincinnati Orchestra under Eugene Goossens. It was inspired by a speech made by then-Vice President Henry Wallace which talked about the dawning of the “Century of the Common Man.” It is worth noting that the use of “common” here is its original meaning – prevalent or frequently occurring – as opposed to the more pejorative meaning of unrefined.

In art, an image that immediately comes to mind is Jan Vermeer’s “Kitchen Maid.”

 

Nancy Pearcey in Saving Leonardo writes that “the Protestant doctrine of vocation insisted that any honest work can be a calling from God.” In this vision, the glory and splendor of a person is not found in the worldly status or value given to a vocation: in other words, God doesn’t see according to our pay grade or societal rank. There is worth to be discovered in the imago Dei  (the image of God), which means necessarily that the work we do, no matter how menial can be used for our sanctification and to draw us nearer to God.

“The paintings shine with a quiet intensity to convey the biblical concept that ordinary life is infused with spiritual dignity and significance.” ~Nancy Pearcey

Roughly two hundred years after Vermeer, a simple and uneducated nun would come to the same conclusion and reinforce the truth that what we do on even an hourly basis could be consecrated to Christ and therefore of inordinate value.

“Little things done out of love are those that charm the heart of Christ…on the contrary, the most brilliant deeds when done without love, are but nothingness.” ~Therese of Lisieux

The greatest temptation to which we regularly succumb is to forget our glory; our true glory. We are inundated with images and stories of temporary and shallow greatness from sports superstars, pop megastars, famous artists – all part of the earthly royalty. In the race to temporary prestige and power, we lose sight of our inherent worth. Let us remember that by vocation, those first chosen as disciples were mostly fishermen, with a tax-collector and a political activist thrown in for good measure.

 

If you would like a more developed version of the theme, Copland also used this as  the basis for the Finale of his Third Symphony.

 

 

Copland wrote your fanfare for you – next time you are engaged in common activities, put this on and take a moment to thank God for your life and to help you to re-orient your perspective to things eternal.

John 1: 1-5

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

Kate Thomsen Gremillion resides in Newport Beach, CA. After pursuing a music degree at Trinity University and Indiana University she currently studies at HBU in the Master of Arts in Apologetics program. She is a full time homeschooling mother of four, two of whom have graduated to college (Cornell and LMU). She is also a professional singer performing regularly with the Pacific Symphony and Pacific Chorale. Kate gives regular recitals in Art Song and Opera and conducts the St Matthew’s Choristers at St Matthews Anglican Church in Newport Beach where they study Latin, Liturgy and Music. Her newest projects are the establishing of The Children’s Conservatory at St Matthew’s Montessori school and… as a contributing writer to Literary Life!

 

Philia and Patriotism by Kate Thomsen Gremillion

Kate Thomsen Gremillion

In Saint Petersburg in the 1860s a group of friends, the Могучая кучка (Moguchaya kuchka) which is roughly translated as “the Five” or “The Mighty Handful” met together for drink and discussion about Music and Philosophy not unlike The Inklings did with literature and poetry a generation later.

These Russian composers all lived in St Petersburg and most all had day jobs. They worked to establish a distinctly Russian sound. We could go into their unique musical ideas or their other philosophical concerns here, but I want to draw attention to perhaps their most famous member – Modest Mussorgsky. His music was quite popular with the people, but the critics hated it because it refused to follow the conventions of Western music of the time (think Verdi, Brahms, Tchaikovsky, et al). The funny thing is that was precisely his point. The Five wanted a distinctly Russian sound and resisted the pull to merely imitate Western European models.

The piece I have in mind today is his most well-known work, Pictures at an Exhibition. The real story here is the inspiration behind it. Mussorgsky was best friends with the artist, architect, and designer Viktor Hartmann. They never got the opportunity to collaborate on, but Viktor’s sudden death from an aneurism at the young age of 39 sent Mussorgsky back into battle with life and reality and the darkness that had stalked him all his adult life. His weapon was alcohol, but his solace was composition, as opposed to what he thought of as the mindless civil service position he worked at to keep his head above water. So, for a short three weeks, there was clarity for Mussorgsky; clarity brought about by the deep love he had for his now deceased friend.

Vladimir Stasov, art critic and mentor to The Five, put together a memorial retrospective of Hartmann’s work. Mussorgsky even loaned a couple of paintings given to him by Hartmann to the event. After attending the memorial, Mussorgsky was inspired to write a piece as a tribute to his friend and his work. He wrote in the deep language of love, a tribute to their friendship. Originally written as a virtuoso piano piece, like most of Mussorgsky’s compositions it is known in a different form, as most of his works were either left unfinished or were “corrected” by his friends after his death who felt his idiosyncrasies as a composer were due to his lack of instruction and thus needed fixing.  Today the Ravel orchestration is the most popular version of Pictures, but I prefer the original piano version. In it, one can easily follow Mussorgsky’s thoughts as he was buoyed by inspiration.

Each piece is in response to a piece of art on display. It is as if Mussorgsky was carried away in conversation with his beloved friend. The utterly charming touch is the use of a tune he called Promenade to connect the pieces. In it you can imagine his steps to depict his travel between paintings. He wrote to Stasov about the piece “my physiognomy can be seen in the interludes.” What a delightful genius.

Let us begin and travel with Mussorgsky as he pays homage to his friendship with Hartmann.

You can listen here, in a poetic performance by gifted Russian pianist Sviatislov Richter:

 

Promenade (1st)

Stasov describes this as Mussorgsky “roving through the exhibition, now leisurely, now briskly in order to come close to a picture that had attracted his attention, and at times sadly, thinking of his departed friend.” He then approaches the first piece of art to be depicted:

 

No. 1 “The Gnome”

Stasov describes this as “a sketch depicting a little gnome, clumsily running with crooked legs.” Listen as the gnome scurries about. Unfortunately, the sketch, like several of the works on which these pieces are based, is lost.

 

Promenade (2nd)

Mussorgsky walks leisurely to the next piece to catch his eye:

 

No. 2 “The Old Castle”

This painting is also lost, but we can imagine a melancholy troubadour singing and strumming his lute as we walks the streets of a medieval castle.

 

Promenade (3rd)

Mussorgsky seems to walk more heavily here – and with a weighty purpose, perhaps as a contrast to the next painting he encounters:

 

No. 3 “Tuileries (Children’s Quarrel after Games)”

The Tuileries is a garden in Paris. Again the original painting is lost, but it is easy to imagine children playing and arguing, running past the full skirts of their attentive nannies on a glorious summer day

 

No. 4 “Cattle”

The lumbering of an ox-drawn cart as it travels down a country road.

 

Promenade (4th)

Notice how each appearance promenade theme sets a different mood.

 

No. 5 “Ballet of Unhatched Chicks”

Finally a picture! This movement is based on Hatmann’s costume design of chicks in their shells for a ballet performance:

[https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/cf/Hartmann_Chicks_sketch_for_Trilby_ballet.jpg]

 

No. 6 “Samuel Goldenberg and Schmuÿle”

[https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e6/The_Rich_Jew.jpg]

[https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/ee/The_Poor_Jew.jpg]

This is a description of “Two Jews: Rich and Poor” (Stasov) depicted in contrasting themes. The two portraits on which this movement is founded were given to Mussorgsky by Hartmann and loaned to the exhibition by the composer.

 

Promenade

This statement of the Promenade is almost identical to the opening.

 

No. 7 “Limoges. The Market (The Great News)”

Again, the painting is lost. The critic Stasov describes this as “French women quarrelling violently in the market.”  Mussorgsky originally included a dialogue in French for the two women,  but then thought better of it.

 

No. 8 “Catacombs (Roman Tomb)”

[https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/fc/Hartmann_Paris_Catacombs.jpg]

Two gentlemen in top hats are led by a guide into the catacombs of Rome. The play of shadows against walls filled with ancient skulls and bones is chilling.

 

No. 9 “The Hut on Hen’s Legs (Baba Yaga)”

[https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f2/Izbushka2.jpg]

 

This picture is actually a design for a mantle clock in the shape of a log cabin that sits on chicken legs after the legend of the dwelling of the evil witch Baba Yaga. Mussorgsky depicts her flying wildly about in her preferred means of travel – a mortar and pestle! The piece functions as a kind of scherzo that leads directly into the last movement:

 

No. 10 “The Bogatyr Gates (In the Capital in Kiev)”

[https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/9b/Hartmann_–_Plan_for_a_City_Gate.jpg]

This piece is based on another design by Hartmann, this time for a proposed memorial to Tsar Alexander II that was never built. The massive celebratory nature of the structure (commemorating the Tsar’s escape from an assassination plot) is reflected in the massive chords and sounds that seem to transcend the wood and strings of a single piano.


Kate Thomsen Gremillion resides in Newport Beach, CA. After pursuing a music degree at Trinity University and Indiana University she currently studies at HBU in the Master of Arts in Apologetics program. She is a full time homeschooling mother of four, two of whom have graduated to college (Cornell and LMU). She is also a professional singer performing regularly with the Pacific Symphony and Pacific Chorale. Kate gives regular recitals in Art Song and Opera and conducts the St Matthew’s Choristers at St Matthews Anglican Church in Newport Beach where they study Latin, Liturgy and Music. Her newest projects are the establishing of The Children’s Conservatory at St Matthew’s Montessori school and… as a contributing writer to Literary Life!

 

Order and Beauty and Essential Presence in the Transformed Life by Kate Thomsen Gremillion

Kate Thomsen Gremillion

Johann Sebastian Bach lived from 1685 to 1750. He mastered order and that mastery has captivated generations of music lovers. When listening or performing Bach, order and beauty are easily perceived and felt, but what is not always apparent in our day is the rigor and obedience to the liturgical calendar, a calendar which orders itself in the richness and meaning of Life in Christ. Bach’s history can be accessed through many sources online and other and exhaustive studies in his work abound. For our purposes I want to invite you into the beginning of the discovery I encounter whenever I allow Bach to help me gain access to richer and deeper meaning of Scripture and God’s desire to lead me to Him through beauty.

Bach’s devotion to God through beauty produced a love of music and in his music one can immediately grasp the mingling of joy and sorrow in direct relation to the rightly ordered mind. As it is the week we celebrate the Ascension of Christ, let us listen to Himmelfahrts Oratorio (“Himmelfahrt” means Ascension, from “Himmel” heaven + “fahrt” journey). The translation and a brief guide is below

 

Biblical quotations in BOLD font, chorales in ITALICS

1 Coro 1 Chorus [S, A, T, B]
Tromba I-III, Timpani, Flauto traverso I/II, Oboe I/II, Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo
Lobet Gott in seinen Reichen, Preiset ihn in seinen Ehren, Rühmet ihn in seiner Pracht; Sucht sein Lob recht zu vergleichen, Wenn ihr mit gesamten Chören Ihm ein Lied zu Ehren macht! Praise God in his kingdoms,  extol him in his honours  acclaim him in his splendour.  Seek to express his praise rightly  when with assembled choirs  you make a song to his honour!
Listen for the words and how the music demonstrates the concepts. “Lobet Gott” (Praise God) is ushered in with heralding trumpets. The voices and instruments work and together to help usher us into a mindset that causes us to comprehend the praising of God, the extoling of his honor, proclaiming His splendor – and all of this accomplished in a community of believers and as the Scripture says “with angels and archangels”. Try to pick out each voice part as they repeat and emphasize the theme. I would recommend following along with one of the scores found here: http://imslp.org/wiki/Lobet_Gott_in_seinen_Reichen,_BWV_11_(Bach,_Johann_Sebastian) if possible.

 

 

2 Recitativo T 2 Recitative [Tenor]
Continuo
Evangelist: Der Herr Jesus hub seine Hände auf und segnete seine Jünger, und es geschah, da er sie segnete, schied er von ihnen. Evangelist: The Lord Jesus raised his hands and blessed his followers,  and it happened that while he was blessing them he parted from them.
The gentleness of the recitative (spoken part that advances the plot) is an indicator of God’s gentle and abiding love for humanity. Hear the sadness also in the voicing of the Evangelist’s proclamation. Bach writes this in a minor key to communicate the disconsolate state of Christ’s followers who are bewildered at his leaving…again.

 

 

3 Recitativo B 3 Recitative [Bass]
Flauto traverso I/II, Continuo
Ach, Jesu, ist dein Abschied schon so nah? Ach, ist denn schon die Stunde da, Da wir dich von uns lassen sollen? Ach, siehe, wie die heißen Tränen Von unsern blassen Wangen rollen, Wie wir uns nach dir sehnen, Wie uns fast aller Trost gebricht. Ach, weiche doch noch nicht! Ah Jesus, is your departure already so near?  Ah, is it already the hour  when we must let you leave us?  Ah, see how the hot tears  roll down our pale cheeks,  how we gaze after you  how almost all our comfort is lost .  Ah, do not go away yet!
The sadness continues its expression in the lost sounds of the Bass who states plainly that without the presence of Christ we are naught.

 

 

4 Aria A 4 Aria [Alto]
Violini all’ unisono, Continuo
Ach, bleibe doch, mein liebstes Leben, Ach, fliehe nicht so bald von mir! Dein Abschied und dein frühes Scheiden Bringt mir das allergrößte Leiden, Ach ja, so bleibe doch noch hier; Sonst werd ich ganz von Schmerz umgeben. Ah, stay yet, my dearest life,  ah, do not flee so soon from me  Your departure and your early leaving  bring me the greatest suffering.  Ah then, still stay here;  otherwise I shall be quite overwhelmed with sorrow.
I think of Mary Magdalene and her deep love for Christ because of the way He first loved her. He is the first person she has truly loved.  Ah, Lord, do not take your hand away from our lives. The richness and melancholy of the alto voice shadowed by the pleading of the violin in a wordless acquiescence give voice to the inner pleading of our souls, the noetic self that whispers ancient truths to us.

 

 

5 Recitativo T 5 Recitative [Tenor]
Continuo
Evangelist: Und ward aufgehoben zusehends und fuhr auf gen Himmel, eine Wolke nahm ihn weg vor ihren Augen, und er sitzet zur rechten Hand Gottes. Evangelist: And in their sight he was lifted up and went towards heaven,  a cloud took him away from their eyes, and he sits on the right hand of God.
Again, we have scripture as recitative stated succinctly to proclaim the truth of an event. Bach keeps this announcement in a minor key to emphasize the continued state of loss. He has left them in a state that feels like abandonment. The evangelist is saying He is gone; He left in a cloud but we do not understand it. At this juncture Bach, through his choice in key and ethos helps us to feel the sense of loss even while we hear the powerful words “he sits in the right hand of God.” The hollow cadence seems to say, “and then what?”
6 Choral 6 Chorale [S, A, T, B]
Flauto traverso I/II in octava e Oboe I e Violino I col Soprano, Oboe II, Violino II coll’Alto, Viola col Tenore, Continuo
Nun lieget alles unter dir, Dich selbst nur ausgenommen; Die Engel müssen für und für Dir aufzuwarten kommen. Die Fürsten stehn auch auf der Bahn Und sind dir willig untertan; Luft, Wasser, Feuer, Erden Muß dir zu Dienste werden. Now all lies beneath you,  apart only from yourself;  the angels must for ever and ever  come to wait on you.  Princes also stand by the road  and are willingly subject to you;  air, water, fire and earth  must all be at your service.
A straightforward and majestic sounding choir states the reality of the situation and the music, still in minor key, underscores the sadness that comes from the continued separateness.

 

 

7a Recitativo T B – Evangelist, zwei Männer in weißen Kleidern 7a Recitative [Tenor, Bass]
Continuo
Evangelist: Und da sie ihm nachsahen gen Himmel fahren, siehe, da stunden bei ihnen zwei Männer in weißen Kleidern, welche auch sagten: Evangelist:  And as they gazed after him travelling to heaven,  see, there stood by them two men in white robes, who also said:
Beide: Ihr Männer von Galiläa, was stehet ihr und sehet gen Himmels Dieser Jesus, welcher von euch ist aufgenommen gen Himmel, wird kommen, wie ihr ihn gesehen habt gen Himmel fahren. Tenor and Bass (Two Men in White Raiment):  You men of Galilee, why do you stand here and gaze towards heaven?  This Jesus, who has been taken from you to heaven  will come again, as you have seen him travel to heaven.
And now, joy begins to enter. The Evangelists sounds utterly bewildered but wonder has begun to override lack of knowledge. Then, for the first time since the opening movement, we hear joy from the two angels who are basically saying: “you have no idea what just happened, but when you figure it out, your mind will be blown. Also, Jesus is coming back in the same manner he left.”

 

 

7b Recitativo A 7b Recitativo [Alto]
Flauto traverso I/II, Continuo
Ach ja! so komme bald zurück: Tilg einst mein trauriges Gebärden, Sonst wird mir jeder Augenblick Verhaßt und Jahren ähnlich werden. Ah then ! return again soon:  wipe away once and for all my sad demeanour,  otherwise for me each moment  will be hateful and become like years.
 The inconsolable asks for consolation.

 

 

7c Recitativo T 7c Recitative [Tenor] ( Evangelist)
Continuo
Evangelist: Sie aber beteten ihn an, wandten um gen Jerusalem von dem Berge, der da heißet der Ölberg, welcher ist nahe bei Jerusalem und liegt einen Sabbater-Weg davon, und sie kehreten wieder gen Jerusalem mit großer Freude. Evangelist: But they worshipped him, then went back to Jerusalem from the mount  which is called the Mount of Olives and which is near Jerusalem and is situated a Sabbath’s journey away  and they returned back to Jerusalem with great joy.
In a minor key they worship and then take leave to go back to Jerusalem. But something happens on long walk home. After the Sabbath, they are filled with joy.

 

 

8 Aria S 8 Aria [Soprano]
Flauto traverso I/II, Oboe, Violini all’ unisono
Jesu, deine Gnadenblicke Kann ich doch beständig sehn. Deine Liebe bleibt zurücke, Dass ich mich hier in der Zeit An der künftgen Herrlichkeit Schon voraus im Geist erquicke, Wenn wir einst dort vor dir stehn. Jesus, your gracious look  I can still see continually.  Your love remains behind,  so that here in this present time  I may already beforehand refresh myself in spirit  with the glory that is to come  when we one day shall stand before you there.
Acceptance has come and a level of understanding has tempered the response of the soprano who in my mind represents the soul renewed. She celebrates the wisdom of keeping our eyes on Jesus (“Kann ich doch beständig or “I can yet see continually”) and the vow to remain patient after the refreshment of the Sabbath. I adore how the voice is made to climb up in to heaven in anticipation.

 

 

9 Choral 9 Chorale [S, A, T, B]
Tromba I-III, Timpani, Flauto traverso I/II, Oboe I/II, Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo
Wenn soll es doch geschehen, Wenn kömmt die liebe Zeit, Dass ich ihn werde sehen, In seiner Herrlichkeit? Du Tag, wenn wirst du sein, Dass wir den Heiland grüßen, Dass wir den Heiland küssen? Komm, stelle dich doch ein! When will it happen,  when comes the dear time  that I shall see him  in his glory?  You day, when will you come  that we may greet the Saviour,  that we may kiss the Saviour?  Come, be present soon!
And now the stalwart and determined praise of the church militant joins with the church triumphant in an acknowledgement of Truth. We glory in the knowledge and we wait. Man your stations, followers of Christ: we will one day see Him face to face and all will be well.

 

Beauty produces Love which ends in Joy. Beauty produced love and love gave me a desire to endure. “I mastered my ignorance and found joy” … I found beauty that was there.

–          Dr. John Mark Reynolds

Through the order and disciplined approach to music through the liturgical calendar we train minds to be rooted. Bach demonstrates for us the value of continuity on soul. Dietrich von Hildebrand elegantly and eruditely expounds the importance of liturgical life in Liturgy and Personality. He states how difficult it is to live in a “separate moments without any link to them… [and that] we would be only a bundle of disconnected experience.” This continuity is what is required to gain to be transformed. It is so essential that God has wraps it in beauty. From baptism forward, we must rightly order our thoughts through the reorienting of them. Otherwise, we are susceptible to the prevailing winds. Bach helps us through our days through discipline that begets beauty and ultimately joy.

 

“So make known your right hand to us, that we may number our days and our heart may be bound with wisdom”

–          Psalm 90

 

“Surrounding people with beauty matters. If we believe that beauty is objective, then suddenly, we are free.”

–          Dr. John Mark Reynolds

 

 

John 1:1

In the beginning was the Word, and the word was with God, and the Word was God.

 


Kate Thomsen Gremillion resides in Newport Beach, CA. After pursuing a music degree at Trinity University and Indiana University she currently studies at HBU in the Master of Arts in Apologetics program. She is a full time homeschooling mother of four, two of whom have graduated to college (Cornell and LMU). She is also a professional singer performing regularly with the Pacific Symphony and Pacific Chorale. Kate gives regular recitals in Art Song and Opera and conducts the St Matthew’s Choristers at St Matthews Anglican Church in Newport Beach where they study Latin, Liturgy and Music. Her newest projects are the establishing of The Children’s Conservatory at St Matthew’s Montessori school and… as a contributing writer to Literary Life!

 

 

 

 

 

Stranded in Time: How the Metaphysical and Physical are Necessarily Linked by Kate Thomsen Gremillion

“A human being is a vessel that God has built for himself and filled with His inspiration so that his works are perfected in it”


Kate Thomsen Gremillion

Hildegard von Bingen, O.S.B., the twelfth century mystic, theologian, poet, and composer/playwright lived so long ago that it warrants a timeline of sorts to see just how ahead of her time she was. She is, in fact one of the very first composers whose name has actually come down to us. She was preceded by the music theoretician Guido of Arezzo who, interestingly enough, was also affiliated with the Benedictine order as a monk and invented our modern system of musical notation. She was roughly contemporaneous with Leonin and Perotin, the first composers of polyphonic music who worked in the cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris, but any music student would struggle to come up with those names without pulling out their old music history exams. She was writing two hundred years before Machaut, five hundred years before Bach, six hundred years before Mozart and over nine hundred years from today.

“Humanity, take a good look at yourself. Inside, you’ve got heaven and earth, and all of creation. You’re a world-everything is hidden in you.”

I emphasize her time and place in history to bring to the light the advantages of having lived before the Enlightenment, before the chaos eschewed in with acceptance of the Cartesian divide. The integration of soul, mind and body had not yet been rent apart in unnatural ways and I make the argument that the enduring appeal of her music grown in the fertile gardens of her worldview. Here is a woman in the medieval era who was the modern equivalent of a doctor of medicine, composer, playwright. poet, and philosopher. She was a tour de force wholly devoted to Christ with a formidable intellect and a mystical quality that draws even modern audiences in droves.

This is particularly exciting on two levels; as a woman and artist, I see her unhampered and strong approach to living out her beliefs and how her knowledge of the soul and the struggle and glory of life on earth were inextricably connected to her physical life. As a Benedictine Nun and eventually an abbess, she followed a strict discipline and rule of life. Her days were ordered by work and prayer; Ora et Labora.  The labor of discipline was to her a joy because of the fruit it bore. She was unapologetically educated and scholarly and even chastised the Pope and Kings and encouraged Queens when she thought it was warranted. Her advice was highly desired. With her gifts and acumen in unity with her bodily actions, she imparted wisdom.

To the Pope: “You despise God when you embrace evil. For in failing to speak out against the evil of those in your company, you are certainly not rejecting evil. Rather, you are kissing it”

To Emperor Barbarossa: “Woe, O woe to the evil of those wicked ones who spurn Me. Hear this, O king, if you wish to live.”

To Eleanor of Aquitaine: “Your mind is like a wall battered by a storm … Stay calm, and stand firm, relying on God and your fellow creatures, and God will aid you in all your tribulations.”

In one her most well-known compositions, Ordo Virtutum, she demonstrates the relationship between joy and the development of virtue and contrasts that with the temptations of the devil towards vice. An interesting and epistemological theme is that the singing reaches towards the heavens with its use of high passages and euphoric melismas (chains of notes strung together that move quickly). Interestingly, the devil does not ever sing.

Listen here to the operatic ancestor Ordo Virtutum.

The translation can be found here

http://www.oxfordgirlschoir.co.uk/hildegard/ordovirtutumtext.html

It is very important to follow along with the text. The music though sublime will take some getting used to for some. Be patient with your ears and your brain while they make the adjustments. After going through the entire piece with the translation at hand, you will be ready to listen as you work or do the dishes. I recommend taking a prayer walk while you listen with headphones.

We, like Hildegard, are members of eternity, stranded in time which provides us with context to develop our souls.

Your true voice can only find its home within the context of a worldview that contains a harmony and connection with the metaphysical and the physical. The transcendence of God is a relief to our souls and a true mercy.

He is higher and nobler and worthy of praise.


Kate resides in Newport Beach, CA. After pursuing a music degree at Trinity University and Indiana University she currently studies at HBU in the Master of Arts in Apologetics program. She is a full time homeschooling mother of four, two of whom have graduated to college (Cornell and LMU). She is also a professional singer performing regularly with the Pacific Symphony and Pacific Chorale. Kate gives regular recitals in Art Song and Opera and conducts the St Matthew’s Choristers at St Matthews Anglican Church in Newport Beach where they study Latin, Liturgy and Music. Her newest projects are the establishing of The Children’s Conservatory at St Matthew’s Montessori school and… as a contributing writer to Literary Life!

The Cognoscenti & the Apologetics of Curiosity by Kate Thomsen Gremillion

Kate Thomsen Gremillion

One of the most delightful aspects of participating in Literary Life is the charm and fascination of its members. As I read through the posts and comments, I meet a range of characters from the beguiling and clever to the serious and searching. Much of what I encounter is at first a bit intimidating. And I pause here to bring a topic to light. Why is it that when we find a subject matter or a field of study intimidating, we turn away?

We turn away because we are embarrassed about what we don’t know.

Antidote: Strike out the voice of shame that whispers “not knowing makes you bad or uneducated” and embrace the idea that you have discovered a way for curiosity to exercise her muscles. I have discovered alternate ways of dealing with the shame of not knowing. To begin, there is no shame in not knowing. Be gentle with yourself and delight in the quest to grow in knowledge. Instead of backing down, dig in. Ask questions and be inquisitive (and no, curiosity did not kill the cat. English playwright, Ben Jonson first penned the saying in Every Man in His Humour, 1598 and it went like this “Helter skelter, hang sorrow, care’ll kill a Cat, up-tails all, and a Louse for the Hangman.” Worry and care in other people’s affairs were the behaviors in question).

This is especially useful in The Arts as it is an area where many feel insecure. Being articulate with regards to Music and Art can feel elusive to the beginner, but do not let that deter you. The best ways to discovery are through experience, research, and seeking out the like-minded. Being a part of Literary Life is a great step.

In things of beauty, he contemplated the One who is supremely beautiful, and, led, by the footprints he found in creatures, he followed the Beloved everywhere.

~Pope John Paul II from Bonaventure

 

We turn away because we do not know how to find out about what we know.

Antidote: Start searching and digging deeper into what you do not know. One of the easiest ways to do that is to find a community who is similarly stimulated.

Another good way to understand what you do not know is to use what you do know to approach it. Because I am trained in the musical arts I often begin with music, as understanding poetry can come more easily when married with the additional talents of a composer. Take, for instance the second movement of Vaughan William’s A Sea Symphony. The poetry is Walt Whitman’s On The Beach At Night Alone:

On the beach at night alone,

As the old mother sways her to and fro, singing her husky song,

As I watch the bright stars shining, I think a thought of the clef of the universes, and of the future.

A vast similitude interlocks all,

All spheres, grown, ungrown, small, large, suns, moons, planets

All distances of place however wide,

All distances of time, all inanimate forms,

All souls, all living bodies, though they be ever so different, or in different worlds,

All gaseous, watery, vegetable, mineral processes, the fishes, the brutes,

All nations, colors, barbarisms, civilizations, languages,

All identities that have existed, or may exist, on this globe, or any globe,

All lives and deaths, all of the past, present, future,

This vast similitude spans them, and always has spann’d,

And shall forever span them and compactly hold and enclose them.

After reading the poem, travel with the poetry along with composer Vaughan Williams and listen for the musical elements that pull us along further into meaning. There are immediately recognizable elements such as the lone voice at the beginning singing “On the beach at night alone”, the expansiveness of the horn section introducing us to the “vast similitude”, the widening of the vocal rang to extremes at “all distances of place however wide”. I read the poem and I am struck by its insights. I listen to the music and I find myself on the beach at night alone.

We turn away because we listen to the voices that exaggerate our fears and inabilities.

Antidote: Everyone feels that way. Instead of berating yourself and neglecting your natural curiosity, embrace it.

Let us listen to each other

Learn from each other.


Kate resides in Newport Beach, CA. After pursuing a music degree at Trinity University and Indiana University she currently studies at HBU in the Master of Arts in Apologetics program. She is a full time homeschooling mother of four, two of whom have graduated to college (Cornell and LMU). She is also a professional singer performing regularly with the Pacific Symphony and Pacific Chorale. Kate gives regular recitals in Art Song and Opera and conducts the St Matthew’s Choristers at St Matthews Anglican Church in Newport Beach where they study Latin, Liturgy and Music. Her newest projects are the establishing of The Children’s Conservatory at St Matthew’s Montessori school and… as a contributing writer to Literary Life!