Laus Trinitati / Antiphon for the Trinity

by Hildegard von Bingen

English version by Ivan M. Granger
Original Language Latin

Praise to the Trinity!
          the music and the life,
          the mother of all,
     the life within life.
Praise sung by the angelic host,
          the wondrous secret splendor,
          hidden from the human eye, and yet
     alive everywhere.

-- from This Dance of Bliss: Ecstatic Poetry from Around the World, Edited by Ivan M. Granger

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Commentary by Ivan M. Granger

          the music and the life,
          the mother of all,
     the life within life.


We are prone to be poor witnesses. When we take a walk in the woods, for example, what do we notice? Trees. Bushes and undergrowth. Grasses in the clearings. Birds singing and darting about. Perhaps a rabbit or a deer, if we are lucky. We see all this movement and greenery, and we call it “life.” We then imagine that life is tangible, measurable, easily watched, described, and categorized. But these things—plants, animals, ourselves, even the land, the waters, and the sky—these are not life itself, they are its expression.

Life is the intangible essence that animates and awakens living beings. It is the urge to grow and to flower. It is the will to move and to survive. It is the intelligence behind the eyes. Within every blade of grass and animal artery runs this secret sap. Behind every glance and leap and flutter circulates this hidden breath.

It is this “secret splendor,” this inner radiance “hidden from the human eye” that is the real life. Amidst the endless diversity of beings there is but a single life. And though it is hidden, it is manifest everywhere.

Elsewhere Hildegard von Bingen refers to this flow of universal life as God's “greening” of the world.

This vital presence has a quiet thrum to it, a vibration—a sound. The divine outpouring is also music. God is the rhythm of existence. And we, together with all things, are part of the chorus. Our very being is a song of praise.

Notice how easily Hildegard sidesteps the patriarchy of medieval Christian thought and addresses this vision of the Trinity as “the mother of all.” For her, the Divine is nurturing, everywhere present, nourishing as milk to the newborn, life-giving. Naming it mother feels right.



Recommended Books: Hildegard von Bingen

Symphonia: A Critical Edition of the Symphonia armonie celstium revelationum German Mystical Writings: Hildegard of Bingen, Meister Eckhart, Jacob Boehme, and others Hildegard of Bingen's Book of Divine Works with Letters and Songs Women of Wisdom: A Journey of Enlightenment by Women of Vision Through the Ages The Book of the Rewards of Life: Liber Vitae Meritorum
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Laus Trinitati / Antiphon