This may be a case of what’s old is new again. Not old as in “so last week” but old as in nine centuries ago.
By that I mean the works of St. Hildegard of Bingen, a 12th-century German Benedictine mystic. There is not much this woman didn’t do. She founded two monasteries, wrote sacred music, composed songs, plays and poems. She also wrote about plants and medicines, theology and philosophy.
There may be renewed attention to her accomplishments when her curriculum vitae expands this fall.
On Oct. 7 St. Hildegard will be named a doctor of the church joining a high-profile list of 33 other church doctors.
Pope Benedict XVI announced May 27 that she would receive the title just a couple of weeks after he announced that she would be added to the church’s list of saints, although she had never been canonized. In a 2010 series of audience talks, Pope Benedict described St. Hildegard as a good role model for Catholics today because of her love for the church amid problems of clergy’s abuse of power in her day.
With all this renewed attention to this 12th-century mystic a June 25 story in The Catholic World Report provides a beginner’s guide to her music, asking readers to consider “how many saints can you say that you have a playlist of audio files?”
The article notes that St. Hildegard often invented her own language for some of her lyrics.
It also points out that her music — primarily Gregorian chants – had “something of a ‘pop culture’ moment back in 1994, when Richard Souther’s album “Vision: The Music of Hildegard von Bingen“ became a hit” and won the Billboard Classical/Crossover album of the year award.
Since her 69 works could be overwhelming, the author suggests a sample playlist of 12 songs to download.
The music certainly won’t be what everyone is listening to, but it just might give those who hear it an appreciation for liturgical music or at the very least, a connection with a saint.