About angels, Hildegard teaches the following: The angels surround God in their glowing fire, for they are living light.  They do not have wings like birds but are still hovering flames in the power of God.

Chant by Hildegard of Bingen in praise of the angels: O vos angeli (O you angels). Sequentia. Uploaded by

God is the original living source who sent out the waves.  When he spoke the words, ‘Let it be,’ there existed illuminating beings.

Their nature is a glowing burning. They burn from God, who is the root of the fire.  Through no other can they be enflamed or extinguished.  In love of God this fire burns inextinguishably. 

Rupert Sheldrake comments:

Hildegard see fire as the source of the angels, the fire of God.  In the context of modern cosmogony, with its primal fireball, this is an amazing image.

He quotes Hildegard: the angels are all about cosmic praise.  

“Angel of Praise” by William Comfort Tiffany. Photo by Kent G Becker on Flickr.

Just as sunshine shows the sun, so also angels announce God through their praise, and just as the sun cannot exist without its light, so also the Godhead is nothing without the angels’ praise.

The entire cosmos sang the song of the angels.

In indescribable jubilation the blessed spirits through God’s power exalt the wonders which God works.  The song of joy and blessedness rules throughout the heavens. 

The Via Positiva is primary in the universe, Hildegard is telling us.

The fire has its flames and it is praise before God.  And the wind moves the flames: in order to praise God.  And in the voice lives the word: that is also a praise of God.  And a voice will be heard.  And that also is pure praise for God.  Therefore the entire world is praise of God.

I responded:

Praise is a response to beauty, to grace, to joy.  Hildegard is saying that praise lies at the heart of the Godhead.  As light is to the sun, praise is to God.  Hildegard operates from a cosmological context.  Song and praise are coming forth from the entire universe.  A cosmic vibration, a cosmic song, cosmic waves, rise. 

“The Great Heavenly Hosts” by ENSPIRIAN

And Rupert said:

Praise is seen in terms of vibration.  Sound is vibratory, flickering flames are vibratory.  All nature is vibratory, rhythmic, oscillatory, even down to the heart of the atom.  God is vibrating in every creature.

Thus there is music in every creature, for music is vibration.

Adapted from Matthew Fox and Rupert Sheldrake, The Physics of Angels, pp. 134-139.

To read the transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.

Banner Image: Cosmic Angels. Photo by Andrea Kirby on Flickr.

Queries for Contemplation

Do you experience the cosmos, the universe, the “entire world” as praise of God?  What follows from that? 

Recommended Reading

The Physics of Angels: Exploring the Realm Where Science & Spirit Meet
By Matthew Fox and Rupert Sheldrake

When was the last time a scientist and a theologian discussed angels together? What are angels? Many people believe in angels, but few can define these enigmatic spirits. Now visionary theologian Matthew Fox and acclaimed biologist Rupert Sheldrake—pioneers in modern religious thinking and scientific theory—launch a groundbreaking exploration into the ancient concept of the angel and restore dignity, meaning, and joy to our time-honored belief in these heavenly beings.

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7 thoughts on “Hildegard on Angels”

  1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
    Richard Reich-Kuykendall

    Matthew, I must say that today’s meditation is beautiful–almost poetic! Sheldrake’s take on Hildegard was from a scientific perspective, but what impressed me in this context, was how right on were Hildegard’s “revelations” or “intuitions” in terms of her description of modern day science, in the language, and using the metaphors, from her time. Hildegard says the angels are all about cosmic praise and Rupert, from his perspective said: Praise is seen in terms of vibration. Thus there is music in every creature, for music is vibration.
    Queries for Contemplation:
    “Do you experience the cosmos, the universe, the ‘entire world’ as praise of God?” Well, let’s put it this way: I experience “my world” as praise of God–though I know that “out there” there are more than I, who do not experience the world as praise of God.
    “What follows from that?” It seems that more of us need to be working on the Via Transformativa now, or things are going to get worse!

  2. Avatar

    if all things stem from the vibrating, oscillating, and resonating hierarchy of light and sound, with God as Source, seems it would behoove us to be aware of what “frequency” our resonances (thoughts, words, tones, and acts) are emanating from at any given moment. That is, in each instance we must monitor whether they stream from our higher vibratory essence in Spirit, or are they of a lower, denser variety on the sensory, material or dark end of that hierarchy (spectrum)? Or do they alternately steam from both? After all, we are bipolar beings, carriers capable of transmitting both light and darkness, goodness and evil. What we don’t alchemically transform on the dark side, we hurtfully transmit to others and the world. James said it best in his epistle, “sometimes (our tongue) praises our Heavenly Father, and sometimes it breaks out into curses against men who are made like God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Dear brothers, surely this is not right. Does a spring of water bubble out first with fresh water and then with bitter water? Can u pick olives from a fig tree, or figs from a grape vine? No, and you can’t draw fresh water from a salty pool” (Jas. 3: 9-12). Apparently, unlike humans, unfallen angels carry no contradictions, no frequency ranges of a lower, darker order. They can only sound out praises. Humans, on the other hand, must struggle, by grace, with their own bittersweet nature and the disparate resonances associated with them. Are humans fallen angels, cast down to earth, given a second chance via redemption to “work out our own salvation with fear and trembling?”

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    Jeanette Metler

    All of creation praises God, in harmonic resonance with the Angels. Just before the new day dawns… if you listen… a sacred single sound… arises from the silent darkness… the chanting of praise, from a lone bird. Then another… offers a different octive… toned, in perfect tempo… adding its unique melodies, within this one song of praise. The wind breathes over the leaves of the trees, as they sway with raised limbs… dancing in praise. Rays of pink, ,red and purple light break forth from the horizon… a splendor of praise in vibrating colour. The gentle fluttering sound of the translucent wings of the dragonflies oscillate subtle vibrations… resounding in praise. I humbly bow my head… offering a prayer of gratitude… my soft whispers of praise.

  4. Avatar

    God’s Diverse Loving manifestations in All of Creation — our Mother Earth with all its’ living abundance and creatures, including human beings, and all our spiritual multidimensions and multiverse Cosmos… all light spirit beings, including our unique eternal souls, and all Angels… God’s Loving~Intelligent~Creative Spirit is within All of us in our sacred unique manifestations
    praising God Our Loving Source~Creator and Lovingly eternally serving God’s Living Loving Spirit with-in the unique gifts given to us in Loving Oneness~Beloved Cosmic Christ….

  5. Avatar

    “And the wind moves the flames: in order to praise God.” That phrase caught my interest. Living on the coast, I have come to admire and love the mysterious power of the wind in my daily life. I envisioned a campfire dancing with the wind. But then in the next sentence, “And in the voice lives the word: that is also a praise of God,” the image switches. The wind becomes the breath moving over the inner flame, or the spark of the soul, and coming out as praise, whether in words or in art or in deeds. That is just a beautiful image that really struck me and gave me a new understanding.

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    I love this from John Phillip Newell, a morning praise to begin one’s day.
    (from “Sounds of the Eternal, A Celtic Psalter, Copyright, 2012)

    “With you is the source of life, O God.
    You are the beginning of all that is.
    From your life the fire of the rising sun streams forth.
    You are the life-flow of creation’s rivers,
    the sap of blood in our veins,
    earth’s fecundity,
    the fruiting of trees,
    creatures’ birthing,
    the conception of new thought,
    desire’s origin.
    All these are of you, O God,
    and we are of you.
    You are the morning’s freshness.

  7. Avatar
    Jeanette Metler

    Further ponderings… praise is awakening and becoming consciously aware of seeing the unfolding, evolving and emerging beauty… of what is… within all of that which is present in its essence… revealing itself in the now moment. It’s about acknowledging this fullness and richness, within this reality… of what simply is… amidst and in spite of the many distressing disguises that tempt us to believe that this beauty is absent. Praise is discovering the beauty in all that seems dualistic and divergent… and moving beyond this into acceptance… without judgement. Praise is more about being with… that which is… with openness… in a manner that does not attempt to hold or grasp or try to control or change anything. Praise is surrendering to being loved… to love… the song of our souls journey.

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