Saint Hildegard and Ola Gjeilo Make My Point

One point that I was trying to make in the piece I published yesterday, Who is the Matrix?, is wonderfully made in a sacred hymn composed by Saint Hildegard (popularly called Hildegard von Bingen). The piece is her Ave Generosa, which you can listen to here:

Attend to the text. It’s sublime. Here is a parallel Latin-English version online. My point is made in the first stanza, with the pertinent words here underlined:

Ave generosa gloriosa et intacta
puella, tu pupilla castitatis,
tu materia sanctitatis,
que Deo placuit.


Hail, nobly born, hail, honored and inviolate,
you Maiden are the piercing gaze of chastity,
you the material of holiness
the one who pleasèd God.

I tripped on this whilst acquainting myself with a modern setting of the first stanza of Saint Hildegard’s piece by the Norwegian composer Ola Gjeilo (pron. Yay-lo). He is one of several who are writing good sacred music in our day. It’s refreshing to find that real art still exists.

Gjeilo’s composition is modal (albeit with modulations throughout), like Saint Hildegard’s chant, hence his copious use of so many accidentals in a piece that looks as if it would be in C major or A minor. (Those better in music theory than I can correct me in the comments — please!) Note the uplifting harmonic effect he produces on the very line that I have underlined in the text. That Our Lady is “the matter of sanctity” appears to have struck him, too.