Patriarchs and Prophets – The Voice of Hildegard von Bingen


Picture from inside a culvert looking out towards a rocky beach & ocean
“In a luminous shade you proclaim a sharp living brightness” -Hildegard von Bingen

We need prophets today.

We look for the clairvoyants who can somehow test the shadows of the future and, returning to the present, assure us of what is to come. We look to those folks claiming to be able to discern shades and spirits of future events, displaying power and control over the uncontrollable.


We need those blossoming alone with radical light to speak truth to power now. We need voices singing deliverance for souls of exiles slumped in all of our dead lands. We need you, people on the brink of heaven running to the mountains, to keep us focused on the here, on the now.

More than that, we need the ears to hear such people. More often than not, we kill them. We rip them to shreds because their words grate on our spirits like salt on a wound. We are in such pain already that to hear truth about our pain translates as attack, as cruelty, as vengeance, as judgement, as ridicule — and these we cannot tolerate.

So we murder our prophets of today, our radical lights illuminating our realities. And then we wonder:

Will the darkness never end?

The hope is that people are raised up. It’s an intolerable call — one that demands our whole lives. The crowd can be relentless in its shaming and shunning. Sometimes death is preferable. Yet radical light does leave lasting imprints. It grows, it is passed on. We learn to shine in the darkness so that the darkness cannot over come us. The mystics of all traditions knew this truth well: a million small lights will illuminate the world.


O spectabiles viri / Antiphon for Patriarchs and Prophets

by Hildegard von Bingen

English version by Barbara Newman

Original Language Latin

Spectacular men! you see
with the spirit’s eyes,
piercing the veil.
In a luminous shade you proclaim
a sharp living brightness
that buds from a branch
that blossomed alone
when the radical light took root.

Holy ones of old! you foretold
deliverance for the souls
of exiles
slumped in the dead lands.

Like wheels you
spun round in wonder as you spoke
of the mysterious mountain
at the brink of heaven
that stills many waters, sailing
over the waves.

And a shining lamp
burned in the midst of you!
he runs to the mountain.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s