The German Benedictine abbess Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179) was renowned in her time because of her views and visions. Hildegard corresponded with the greats of her time, and thus was a very influential woman. Moreover, the abbess provided some of her poems and texts with her own music. This lead to a Gregorian chant that is strongly rooted in universal tradition, but which stands out because of large ambitus and rich melismas.
Seventy-five songs of Hildegard are known, the main source being a twelfth-century manuscript kept at Dendermonde (Sint-Pieters & Paul Abbey, Ms. Cod. 9). From this manuscript the singers of Psallentes chose for a series of chants in honor of St. Ursula. Through antiphons (“O rubor sanguinis”), responsories, a Sequentia and a hymn (the rousing “Cum vox sanguinis”) a powerful evocation is constructed. An intense event, uniting unique voices contemplating with growing engagement the fate of Ursula and her companions.
Ursula was a legendary king’s daughter who would not marry before she had made a pilgrimage to Rome. Together with the 11,000 virgins who accompanied her, she was (again according to legend) killed near Cologne.
Cast: 8 to 11 female singers
Duration: ca. 60 minutes – no break
Programme: Five antiphons, two responsories, a sequentia and a hymn for the feast of Saint Ursula and the eleventhousand virgins
Source: Dendermonde, Sint-Pieters & Paulus Abdij, Ms Cod. 9