In his article “How to Make a Saint,” Richard Witts reviews the artistic and literary history and the work of Hildegard of Bingen. She was a 12th-century nun who became an icon in the world of musical writing and is believed to have composed 77 religious songs. Although the compositions are attributed to her, Witts challenges the belief that Hildegard was the author of these masterpieces. Besides, historical texts fail to provide evidence of her actual contribution to the songs accredited to her. The author also reveals that doubts remain regarding the argument that she actually wrote the popular songs that made her famous. According to Witts, people might have wrongfully attributed them to Hildegard. He also argues that her biographies might be based on the assumption that she authored the musical works. He claims that many books and other written materials have been published based on the biographical presumption.
However, Witts acknowledges that he is uncertain whether Hildegard is the actual composer of the 77 songs because no evidence is available to support his assertion. Furthermore, it is possible that she wrote the songs or contributed to the writing process, for example, by giving them a title. After all, regardless of the questions surrounding her musical activities, Hildegard authored texts on medicine and spiritual revelations. Her work was approved by the Church officials and made accessible to the public. Therefore, important questions remain regarding the composition of the songs attributed to Hildegard.
Vital questions arise from the critic of Hildegard and her musical composition. One of the queries is whether the controversy surrounding her work also affected the part she played as God’s servant in the Church.