Music Notes – Sunday, May 15th:
This Sunday’s musicians are The Chancel Choir and UUCC Music Director Mike Carney.
Centering Music: O virtus sapientiae (O Strength of Wisdom) – Hildegard von Bingen
Offertory Music: Ave generosa (Hail, Nobly Born) – Hildegard von Bingen
Special Music: O nobilissima viriditas (O Most Noble Greenness) – Hildegard von Bingen
Postlude: O ignee Spiritus (O Fiery Spirit) – Hildegard von Bingen
Hildegard von Bingen (ca. 1098-1179), also known as St. Hildegard or Sybil of the Rhine, was a Medieval musician, abbess, mystic, writer, linguist, philosopher, and healer who was undisputedly one of history’s most remarkable women. Theologically, Hildegard managed to bridge the gap between Benedictine Catholicism and earth-centered mysticism, which is no easy feat in our modern world, let alone in the European society of nearly 1000 years ago when Hildegard was alive. Her music was far ahead of its time, employing large melodic leaps and complex melismatic passages, as well as dramatic mirroring of music to lyrics. Hildegard’s compositions are also remarkable in the fact that she wrote her own original texts rather than setting Psalms or other Biblical verses, and that she composed sacred music for women’s voices, both of which were highly unusual practices during the 12th century. Each of Hildegard’s pieces featured in this Sunday’s service come from Symphonia armonie celestium revelationum (Symphony of the Harmony of Heavenly Revelations), a collection of 77 original lyric poems, each set to music by Hildegard herself, believed to have been written between 1140-1160 C.E.
Opening Hymn: #328 I Sought the Wood in Summer – Hopson/Cather
“I Sought the Wood in Summer” (#328) is one of the lesser-known treasures within Singing the Living Tradition. The hymn tune was written by American composer and performer Hal Hopson (b. 1933), who is primarily known for hymns and other sacred music. The words for “I Sought the Wood in Summer” come from American author and poet Willa Cather (1873-1947). Cather was most famously known for her novels depicting immigrant life on the American frontier, which included O Pioneers!, My Antonia, and One of Ours, which earned her the 1923 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. The hymn lyrics we’ll sing on Sunday are an excerpt from Cather’s 1903 poem “I Sought the Wood in Winter”.
Closing Hymn: #1068 Rising Green – McDade
Written in 1983, “Rising Green” is #1068 in our Singing the Journey hymnbook. The song was written by Carolyn McDade (b. 1935), a self-described songwriter, spiritual feminist, and social activist, who is also the composer of three other UU favorites: “Spirit of Life”, “Come, Sing a Song with Me”, and “We’ll Build a Land”. About “Rising Green”, the composer shares these words: “Earth shakes out a mantle of green—each blade of grass true to the integrity within, yet together with others is the rise of spring from winter’s urging. Our coming is with the grass—the common which persists, unexalted, but with the essence of life. Our humanness, our rhythms and dreams, the faith which nurtures our ardent love and hope for life—all this we share with earth community, of which we are natural and connected beings.” (from uua.org)
-Mike Carney, UUCC Music Director