An English In Kentucky


















Monday July 28th 2014  Tim Candler


    Nothing quite like the Latin of Saint Hildegard sung to the cathedral and its alter by the young crystal voices of a girl choir. The nice thing about it is you've no idea what the lyrics mean, so you can kind of make them up. Then of course you've got the internet and from "cancellous fenestra exorcist et in tenebras," you get  "cancellous window exorcism and in the darkness." And you think maybe that the translation of  'cancellous' is an error from a technical device wary of anything approaching nuance, so it does no more than repeat the word.  And it's kind of depressing until I wonder whether Saint Hildegard might actually share one thing in common with me, she's hopeless at spelling.

    But 'cancellous' is a word in modern English usage. It describes "bone tissue with a mesh like structure," and suggests that the window in question is a "Lattice Window." 'Exorcism' is a word much abused by Hollywood out to make a few quick dollars out of terror. 'Exorcism' comes from ancient Greek, it means something like  'binding by oath.'  And of course when in a cathedral, singing to the mystery of an almighty,  it all begins to make as much sense as you ever need it to make. But I don't believe my own Saint Theresa is a singing visionary. A technical device will tell you she was either a victim of neurosis, or a victim of seizures, or victim to the hallucinogens in ergot. And that's why we people still have a chance.


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