Columba aspexit presents a vision of Saint Maximinus as a celebrant at Mass. The imagery and general conception owe much to Ecclesiasticus 50: 1–26 (not in the Authorized Version), a celebration of the High Priest, Simon. The Holy Ghost hovers (symbolized by the dove and the lattice – Hildegard explains the latter symbol in the Scivias as the window of Christ’s mercy through which shines the perfect revelation of the New Testament) as Maximinus celebrates; flooded with grace he is a building – Saint Paul’s edifice of the temple which is in the devout heart. God’s love, represented in biblical fashion by the heat of the sun, blazes in the dark sanctuary. The ‘stone’ (lapide) of stanza four is the altar – these lines are rich in imagery drawn from the liturgy for consecrating and anointing an altar; as he moves to it in his celebration, Maximinus is like the hart of Psalm 41 (42 in the Authorized Version). Stanza five turns to the clergy who surround Maximinus in the ceremony. The ‘perfume-makers’ (perfume is a metaphor of Divine Grace) are the clerics of Trier: Maximinus was the patron of the Benedictine abbey there and Hildegard probably wrote this sequence for them. The ‘holy sacrifice with the rams’ was required by God in the ordination of Aaron’s sons to the priesthood (Exodus 29), but the ‘rams’ may also be the choirboys at Trier (Scivias, 2:5:45). Hildegard ends with a eulogy of Maximinus as celebrant, ‘strong and beautiful in rites and in the shining of the altar’.
from notes by Christopher Page © 1982