Hildegard is the earliest known (i.e. named) composer of sacred music in the Roman Catholic tradition and therefore in the Western music tradition, and is the first name you will hear in a music history class. She was born 48 years after the death of Guido d’Arezzo and was one of the first to take advantage of his newly created musical staff for the purposes of composition. Here compositional style was monodic and is, we might say, one of the most organic outgrowths of the Gregorian chant repertoire that we have.
It seems significant that Pope Benedict has made the decision now to canonize and exalt this true patroness of sacred music. Is it possible that he is building up toward a more intensely focused movement for sacred music in the Church? Is it possible that perhaps a new document or motu proprio might await us with the naming of Hildegard as a Doctor of the Church, or sometime following? One never knows, but this is one of many signs that there may be more to come for us in the promotion sacred music from the highest of ranks in the Church.
Here’s the report:
And here’s Hildegard’s Caritas abundat in omnia: