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Hildegard of Bingen: Ordo Virtutum NARRATIO (3)

from ORDO VIRTUTUM by The Song Company



A Chorus of Souls passes by the Palace, seeking strength from the ‘Living Sun’. One Soul (Anima) lingers and asks that Queen Humility and the Virtues help her
resist the pleasures of the flesh. The Virtues, with interjections from Knowledge of God, counsel the Soul that she must join with the Virtues in her battle to overcome the Devil. However, when challenged by the Devil, the Soul succumbs at once and returns eagerly to the world. Grieving, the Virtues drive the Devil out and gather their strength to seek out the lost Soul.


Querela Animarum in carne positarum
3 O nos peregrine sumus.
Quid fecimus, ad peccata deviantes?
Filie Regis esse debuimus,
sed in umbram peccatorum cecidimus.
O vivens sol, porta nos in humeris tuis
in iustissimam hereditatem quam
in Adam perdidimus!
O rex regum, in tuo prelio pugnamus.
Felix Anima
O dulcis divinitas, et o suavis vita,
in qua perferam vestem preclaram,
illud accipiens quod perdidi in prima apparitione,
ad te suspiro, et omnes Virtutes invoco.
O felix Anima, et o dulcis creatura dei,
que edificata es in profunda altitudine
sapientie dei, multum amas.
Felix Anima
O libenter veniam ad vos ut prebeatis
michi osculum cordis.
Nos debemus militare tecum, o filia regis.
Sed, gravata, Anima conqueritur
O gravis labor, et o durum pondus
quod habeo in vesto huius vite,
quia nimis grave michi est
contra carnem pugnare.
Virtutes ad Animam illam
O Anima, voluntate dei constituta,
et o felix instrumentum,
quare tam flebilis es contra hoc
quod deus contrivit in virginea natura?
Tu debes in nobis superare diabolum.
Anima illa
Succurrite michi, adiuvando, ut possim stare!
Scientia Dei ad Animam illam
Vide quid illud sit quo es induta, filia salvationis
et esto stabilis, et numquam cades.
Infelix, Anima
O nescio quid faciam, aut ubi fugiam!
O ve michi, non possum perficere hoc
quod sum induta. Certe illud volo abicere!
O infelix conscientia, o misera Anima,
quare abscondis faciem tuam
coram creatore tuo?
Scientia Dei
Tu nescis, nec vides, nec sapis illum
qui te constituit.
Anima illa
Deus creavit mundum:
non facio illi iniuriam sed volo uti illo!
Strepitus Diaboli ad Animam illam
Fatue, fatue
quid prodest tibi laborare?
Respice mundum,
et amplectetur te magno honore.
O plangens vox est hec maximi doloris!
Ach, ach, quedam
mirabilis victoria
in mirabili desiderio dei surrexit,
in qua delectatio camis
se latenter abscondit,
heu, heu, ubi voluntas crimina nescivit
et ubi desiderium hominis lasciviam fugit.
Luge, luge ergo in his, Innocentia,
que in pudore bono integritatem non amisisti,
et que avariciam gutturis antiqui serpentis
ibi non devorasti.
Que est hec Potestas,
quod nullus sit preter deum?
Ego autem dico, qui voluerit me
et voluntatem meam sequi, dabo illi omnia.
Tu vero, tuis sequacibus nichil
habes quod dare possis,
quia etiam vos omnes nescitis quid sitis.
Ego cum meis sodalibus bene
scio quod tu es ille antiquus dracho
qui super summum volare voluisti –
sed ipse deus in abyssum proiecit te.
Nos autem omnes in excelsis habitamus.

Lament of embodied Souls
3 We are pilgrims here!
What have we done, straying into sin?
We ought to have been daughters of the King,
but we have fallen into the shadow of sins.
O living Sun, carry us on your shoulders
back to that most just inheritance
which we lost in Adam!
O King of kings, we are fighting in Your battle.
Soul, joyful
O sweet divinity, O delectable life,
in which I shall wear a bright robe,
accepting that which I lost in my first formation –
I cry to you and invoke all the Virtues.
O happy Soul, O sweet creature of God,
fashioned in the profound height
of the wisdom of God, you show much love.
Soul, joyful
Oh, I come to you freely, that you may give me
a kiss from your heart!
We must fight with you, O daughter of the King.
But a troubled Soul complained:
O such heavy toil, and oh, what a harsh weight
that I bear in the dress of this life:
because it is too heavy for me
to fight against my flesh.
Virtues to Soul
O Soul, you that were created by the will of God,
you instrument of bliss,
why are you so tearful in the face of the evil
which God has crushed in a virgin being?
In us you must overcome the devil.
Hasten to me, help me to stand firm!
Knowledge-of-God to the Soul
See the dress you are wearing, daughter of salvation,
and be steadfast and you will never fall.
Soul, sadly
I know not what to do or where to flee!
Oh, woe is me, I cannot perfect this dress
I have put on! In fact I want to take it off!
O unhappy conscience, oh, poor Soul,
why do you hide your face
in the presence of your Creator?
Knowledge of God
You do not know, or see, or taste the One
who has set you here.
God created the world:
I’m doing him no injury – I only want to enjoy it!
Devil, shouting at Soul
Foolishness! Foolishness!
What use is it to you all this toil?
Look to the world and it will embrace you
with great honour.
O wailing voice in which is the greatest sorrow?
Ah, a certain marvellous victory
already rose in that Soul,
in the marvellous desire of God,
in which the delight of the flesh was secretly hidden.
Alas, alas! where previously the will had known no guilt
and desire of man fled lust.
Mourn for this, mourn, Innocence,
you who did not give up your integrity
in your fair modesty,
who did not devour greedily
with the throat of the ancient serpent.
What is this Power –
as if there were no one apart from God?
I say, whoever wants to follow me and do my will,
I will give him everything.
As for you, Humility, you have nothing
that you can give your followers,
because none of you even know what you are!
My companions and I know very well
that you are the ancient dragon
who wanted to fly higher than the Highest:
but God Himself hurled you in the abyss.
As for us, we dwell in the heavens.


from ORDO VIRTUTUM, released December 1, 2021


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The Song Company Sydney, Australia

The Song Company belongs to a land whose first peoples have always used songlines and vocal music to pass knowledge and culture from one generation to another. We bring together Australia’s finest voices in innovative performances, commissioning new music, emerging artist development, educational outreach, and collaborative music-making across art forms. ... more

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