You are here

Luminous Awakening

A bountiful, ecstatic setting of a prayer by Hildegard von Bingen
Hildegard of Bingen
Commissioned by Jonathan Kopplin, for Bethlehem Academy of Faribault, MN

An ecstatic musical setting of Hildegard von Bingen's Psalm Antiphon for the Holy Spirit, with a new translation by the composer.

Luminous Awakening is the the second movement of the three-movement work, Pure Light Beyond Light.

Item Instrumentation/Voicing Duration Level Audio Peruse Delivery Method (Print vs. Digital) Price Quantity
SEA-135-00 SATB a cappella - Choral Score
2' M Sheet Music $3.00
SEA-135-00DEL SATB a cappella - Choral Score
2' M Licensed PDF $3.00

Luminous Awakening

Hildegard of Bingen
Translated from the Latin by Elizabeth Alexander

Holy Spirit, breath of every being,
root of every creature,
moving in all,
bathing all lives
with forgiveness and grace,
and caressing wounds
with the balm of boundless joy –
Pure light beyond light,
luminous awakening,
radiant, bountiful,
resurrecting everything
again and again and again.

Composer's Note: 

My first English setting of Hildegard von Bingen’s Spiritus Sanctus Vivificans used a translation by a well-known translator of ancient spiritual writings. I was deep in the throes of composition and under a tight deadline, and thus it somehow failed to register with me that a modern translation of these ancient words would be copyrighted material. Realizing that later, I felt pretty foolish – but not nearly as foolish as I would feel when, after months of haggling, the translator’s publisher offered me a “generous” non-renewable 5-year contract for an exorbitant fee.

I headed back to the drawing board to see if my song might possibly be salvaged, but to no avail. Substituting the original Latin text into my setting was a fruitless endeavor, and neither of the other two English translations I found managed to capture the music’s sense of movement and grace.

I was close to giving up on the song altogether when I had a revelation: Why couldn’t I create my own translation? I had studied Latin for a few years in high school, and I have plenty of experience writing and adapting lyrics. When I created a word-for-word translation and compared it with the three English versions, I understood immediately what qualities in the text I wanted to invoke. Hildegard’s writing is about the holy spirit being not only a steadfast root but also a dynamic presence! My guiding principle for the translation became flow, an eternally moving and changing breath. As I immersed myself in Hildegard’s original words and crafted my own translation, I set out to make each word invite the listener into the next word, and the next, and the next.


Complete Work
Premiere: Bethlehem Academy Choir / Jonathan Kopplin (Faribault, MN)

Movement I. Hear Us O Never-Failing Light
Choir of First Baptist Church / Shawn Potter (Ottawa, ON)
Choir of Unitarian Universalist Society of Wellesley Hills / Suzanne Cartreine (Wellesley Hills, MA)
Harvard Choral Fellows / Carson Cooman (Cambridge, MA)
Lumina Women's Ensemble (St. Paul, MN)

Movement II. Luminous Awakening
Anjali Silva / Frances Lorenz (Takoma, WA)
Chamber Choir of Colonial Church of Edina / Timothy Takach (Edina, MN)

Movement III. Holy One, Source of Radiance and Reason
Arizona Unitarian Universalist Choral Festival / Elizabeth Alexander (Chandler, AZ)
Choir of Valley Unitarian Universalist Church / Kellie Walker (Chandler, AZ)
Harvard Choral Fellows / Carson Cooman (Cambridge, MA)

Looking for similar titles?
These links will allow you to view all titles in a particular category!
Basic Genres: 
Choral Genres: 
Religious Traditions: 
Cultural Influences: 

Theme by Danetsoft and Danang Probo Sayekti inspired by Maksimer