O ignee Spiritus / Hymn to the Holy Spirit

by Hildegard von Bingen

English version by Barbara Newman
Original Language Latin

Praise to you
Spirit of fire!
to you who sound the timbrel
and the lyre.

Your music sets our minds
ablaze! The strength of our souls
awaits your coming
in the tent of meeting.

There the mounting will
gives the soul its savor
and desire is its lantern.

Insight invokes you in a cry
full of sweetness, while reason
builds you temples as she labors
at her golden crafts.

But sword
in hand you stand poised
to prune shoots of the poisoned
apple --
scions of the darkest
murder --

when mist overshadows the will.
Adrift in desires the soul is spinning
everywhere. But the mind
is a bond
to bind will and desire.

When the heart yearns to look
the Evil One in the eye,
to stare down the jaws of
iniquity, swiftly
you burn it in consuming
fire. Such is your wish.

And when reason doing ill
falls from her place, you
restrain and constrain her as you will
in the flow of experience until
she obeys you.

And when the Evil One brandishes
his sword against you,
you break it in his own
heart. For so you did
to the first lost angel,
tumbling the tower of his
arrogance to hell.

And there you built a second
tower -- traitors and sinners
its stones. In repentance
they confessed all their crafts.

So all beings that live by you
praise your outpouring
like a priceless salve upon festering
sores, upon fractured
limbs. You convert them
into priceless gems!

Now gather us all to yourself
and in your mercy guide us
into the paths of justice.

-- from Symphonia: A Critical Edition of the Symphonia armonie celstium revelationum, by Hildegard of Bingen / Translated by Barbara Newman

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O ignee Spiritus