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Music from a Medieval Abbey

Music from a Medieval Abbey

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Ref: CDG1289

15 tracks 65 mins
Click here to preview trk 1

Timeless music evokes the tranquillity of a medieval abbey. Sung mainly by girls' voices accompanied by medieval instruments, this music creates an atmosphere of calm reflection and showcases the extraordinary creativity of Europe's cloistered orders.

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Timeless music evokes the tranquillity of a medieval abbey. Sung mainly by girls' voices accompanied by medieval instruments, this music creates an atmosphere of calm reflection and showcases the extraordinary creativity of Europe's cloistered orders.
During the middle ages, the landscape of Europe and Britain was characterised by the presence of large abbeys, monasteries and convents. They were home to orders of monks and nuns, who were a fundamental part of medieval society. They provided alms for the poor and rest for weary travellers, and produced food and medicines on their extensive estates.
Mass was said several times a day, and monks and nuns fitted their work around this constant call to worship. Abbeys were also centres of learning, and attracted great scholars and craftsmen to their libraries. This fostered a culture of worshipful creativity, which can be seen in some of the great illuminated manuscripts of this period.
One of the most important forms of creativity for abbeys could be found in music-making. Mass was usually sung, and this prompted a huge output of sacred music, often composed by the monks and nuns themselves. One such devout composer was the Abbess Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179). She was one of the most extraordinary creative personalities of the middle ages. In her youth she saw vivid mystical visions, and she turned these into poetry and music.
Unusually, Hildegard was responsible for both the words and melody of her music. 'When the words come', she wrote,'they are merely empty shells without the music. They live as they are sung, for the words are the body and the music the spirit.' Both the music and lyrics are extraordinarily free by the standards of the time. Hildegard once wrote 'my new song must float like a feather on the breath of God.'
Recorded in the chapel of All Saints Convent in Oxford, Hildegard's timeless music mingles with the occasional sounds of the cloistered garden. The stratospheric high notes and sensuous, curvilinear phrases are reminiscent of soaring medieval architecture and perfectly evoke the monastic setting of a tranquil medieval abbey.

1. O vos angeli
2. Studium divinitatis
3. O successores
4. Kyrie
5. O quam mirabilis
6. O viridissima
7. O orzchis ecclesia
8. Columba aspexit
9. O nobilissima viriditas
10. O pater omnium
11. Vos flores rosarum
12. Laus Trinitate
13. O Euchari
14. Ordo virtutum
15. Procession: In principio omnes

Abbess Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179)

The Oxford Girls' Choir directed by Richard Vendome


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