display | more...

Summary

O Virtus Sapientiae is a vocal chant written by Catholic saint Hildegard von Bingen sometime in the eleventh or twelfth century. It is not known when exactly it was written; many of her compositions are lost, which makes it difficult to place.

Saint Hildegard von Bingen was born in 1098 in the Holy Roman Empire (modern day Germany), and was a Benedictine Abbess. She is considered to be among the most brilliant people of her time. According to Catholic tradition, she had many visions from God, and this inspired her musical compositions and medicinal, scientific, and theological writings.

There are many recorded performances of this composition, but I personally like this one the best.

 

The Lyrics

O virtus Sapientiae,

Quae circuiens circuisti

Comprehendendo omnia

In una via, quae habet vitam,

Tres alas habens,

Quarum una in altum volat,

Et altera de terra sudat,

Et tertia undique volat.

Laus tibi sit, sicut te decet,

O Sapientiae.

 

The Lyrics (translated)

O strength of Wisdom

Who, circling, circled,

Enclosing all

In one lifegiving path,

Three wings you have:

One soars to the heights,

One distils its essence upon the earth,

And the third is everywhere.

Praise to you, as is fitting,

O Wisdom

 

(translation from here)