Hildegard von Bingen – Caritas Abundat

Hildegard von Bingen (1098 – 1179)  was an abbess, composer, writer, philosopher, and mystic born in Bermersheim vor der Höhe, Germany.  She is considered one of the most influential women in medieval music and is sometimes referred to as the “Sibyl of the Rhine” or “The First Woman of Western Music.”

At an early age, Hildegard began to experience mystical visions, which she later recorded in her writings.  The tenth child in her family, she was tithed into the Catholic Church.  She joined a convent at the age of eight and became an abbess at the age of thirty-eight.  During her time as abbess, Hildegard founded two monasteries, wrote extensively on a wide range of subjects, and composed a large body of music.

Hildegard’s music consists of over 70 works. Her compositions were recognized during her lifetime and continue to be performed, studied, and rearranged today.  In addition to her music, Hildegard was a prolific writer of poetry, treatises on theology, medicine, and botany, and an autobiography.  She was canonized as a saint by the Catholic Church in 2012, and she remains a revered figure in religious and musical history.

“Caritas Abundat” is a poem written by Hildegard von Bingen, set to music and arranged by Michael John Trotta. The text is adapted from Liber Divinorum Operum (The Book of Divine Works), to create a new text to express empowerment and grace.

The piece begins with a hand drum and four-part open harmony.  While the harmonies ebb and flow from dissonance to resolution, the violin part weaves in and out of the choral texture, providing counterpoint, emotional intensity, and a haunting, ethereal effect.  The drums accentuate the rhythmic vitality of the piece and give it a unique flavor, blending ancient and modern musical traditions to create a sound that is both timeless and refreshingly contemporary.