Spirited Light


Digital Score (PDF).
4:30. SATB choir, unaccompanied.

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SKU: JR0041 Category: Tag:

About the Work

Commissioned by Spire. Ben Spalding, conductor.

The Story

Saint Hildegard von Bingen, a 12th-century German philosopher and mystic, was one of the first influential female composers and poets. It is said that she had frequent visions of the divine and later in life, she began to write about these intense spiritual experiences. “Spirited Light” is a setting of an English translation of her poem “O gloriosissimi lux vivens” and explores the vivid, angelic imagery she expressed in her writings and music.

In the Middle Ages, there was a strong interest in spiritual beings (angels) and their connection to and interaction with the human world. This poem focuses on the “angel of the crooked wings,” which may represent humanity, who is struggling through his or her attempt to reach the divine. Despite falling from the summit, there is still hope that this “mud-bound spirit might soar.” The choral textures shift throughout the work to illuminate the vivid images of Hildegard’s story and evoke the energy and passion that she found through her mysticism and visions.




View the Score



Antiphon for the Angels
by Hildegard von Bingen
Trans. Barbara Newman

Spirited light! On the edge
of the Presence your yearning
burns in the secret darkness,
O angels, insatiably
into God’s gaze.

Perversity could not touch your beauty;
you are essential joy.
But lost your companion,
angel of the crooked wings.
He sought the summit,
shot down the depths of God,
and plummeted past Adam –
that a mud-bound spirit might soar.


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