O virtus sapientiae

SSA a cappella

“O virtus sapientiae” is the first movement of Lux Lucis, a collection of three motets for women’s voices, on texts by Hildegard von Bingen. The three movements may be performed as a set, or individually. In addition to this version for women’s choir, there is a version for six solo voices.

Program Note

Lux Lucis is a collection of three motets for women’s voices, on texts by Hildegard von Bingen. The title translates as “light”, and especially refers to the light of life or the light of day – it can also translate as “hope” or “elucidation” in certain contexts. The texts by Hildegard for these three motets contain numerous references to light, the sun, flame, life and radiance. Musically, the motets make some references to Hildegard’s compositions – particularly in the use of the interval of the ascending fifth, which is found in many of Hildegard’s songs, and also in the extended chant which opens the third motet – however, there are no direct quotes of Hildegard’s melodies.

Lux Lucis is dedicated to Seattle Pro Musica, and is recorded on the CD Music of the Spirit, by Seattle Pro Musica – SPM 9805. Lux Lucis has won the 2009 New York Treble Singers Composition Contest, the 2007 Roger Wagner Contemporary Choral Composition Contest, and the 2005 Jezic Ensemble Composition Contest.

Notes on preparation and performance

The three movements may be performed as a set, or individually.


Latin text
O virtus Sapientie,
que circuiens circuisti
comprehendendo omnia
in una via que habet vitam,
tres alas habens,
quarum una in altum volat
et altera de terra sudat
et tertia undique volat.
Laus tibi sit, sicut te decet,
O Sapientia.

English translation

O energy of Wisdom!
You circled, circling,
encompassing all things
in one path possessed of life.
Three wings you have:
one of them soars on high,
the second exudes from the earth,
and the third flutters everywhere.
Praise to you, as befits you,
O Wisdom!


“…these works are entirely original, conceived by a composer who absolutely knows her material – various treatments of the theme of “light” – and her medium. The choral writing is first-rate, employing a range of techniques, including cluster effects, irregular or indeterminate rhythms, close dissonances, chords that sequentially form, then contract, then expand, unusual voicings, rhythmic chanting with harmonies reminiscent of Eastern European styles, and a method of imitation/echoing that creates wonderfully colorful, vibrant sound. These are important works that, although quite challenging, should be in the repertoire of every capable women’s choir.”   Classics Today

“…Lux Lucis, a set of three gorgeous motets inspired by the poetry of Hildegard von Bingen…”  American Record Guide

“Lux Lucis is superb – gorgeous colors and stunningly crafted. Bravo!”   Morten Lauridsen, Composer

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