Research forum with Prof. Margot Fassler
Lament, Liturgy and the End of Time in Hildegard of Bingen’s Ordo Virtutum
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 (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, as they develop within a single tonal area. These laments characterize both the singing of the congregate group of virtues and of the trapped soul, the character Anima. Two of the most complicated chants and their texts 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’.
This text 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. The lecture engages Hildegard as dramatist, poet, composer, theologian, and also as the leader of a community of Benedictine nuns, surely the original re-enactors of this cosmic display.
Prof. Margot Fassler
Keough-Hesburgh Professor of Music History and Liturgy, University of Notre Dame (Emerita) and Robert Tangeman Professor of Music History, Yale University (Emerita)
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 (Notre Dame Press), 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).
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 an 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.