The Wiesbaden codex contains the following textual and musical works by Hildegard of Bingen (1098–1179): Scivias (1v–135v); Liber vitae meritorum (136r–201v); Liber divinorum operum (202r–308r); Episotla ad praelatos Moguntinos (308v–317r); Vita Hildegardis (317r–327v); Initium libri Epistolarum et orationum Sanctae Hildegardis (328r–434r); Expositio Evangeliorum (434r–461v); Lingua ignotae (461v–464v); Litterae quas villarenses fratres post obitum domine nostre Hildegardis ad nos miserunt (464v–465r); Symphonia Harmoniae Caelestium Revelationum (466r–478v); Ordo virtutum (478v–481v). The notated chants in the collection known as Symphonia Harmoniae Caelestium Revelationum (Symphony of the Harmony of Celestial Revelations) and the music drama, the Ordo virtutum (Order of the Virtues), are indexed in Cantus. The Dendermonde codex (MS 9) does not include the Ordo virtutum and is a less complete collection of the other chants. The Ordo virtutum is also found, however, in Additional Manuscript 15102, British Library, London (1487). Hildegard composed the Symphonia for use in the Mass and Office c. 1141–1158, including antiphons, responses, sequences, hymns, a Kyrie, and an alleluia.
The Wiesbaden codex is often called the Riesencodex ("giant codex") because the Wiesbaden library held two Hildegard manuscripts originally, one small and one large; the Riesencodex is the larger of the two (the other, MS 1, was a highly illuminated copy of Hildegard's Scivias, dating from her lifetime; it has been lost since WWII).
As the Wiesbaden codex includes the Vita Sanctae Hildegardis (Life of St. Hildegard) and the Literae Villarenses (Writings from Villers), the latter of which provides a reaction to Hildegard’s death, it was likely copied c. 1180–1190, following Hildegard’s death in 1179. It is possible that other parts of manuscript were written during Hildegard’s lifetime and under her supervision as there are five different scribal hands in this manuscript. Parchment darkening on f. 466 and folio numbering irregularities suggest that the chant portion of the Wiesbaden codex (f. 466–481) was kept apart for a period of time before its inclusion in the codex. At a contested date, pig-skin bound wooden covers with brass bindings and a chain at the back were added to the manuscript. There are pencil folio numbers in the upper right hand in a modern hand.
The chants in the Wiesbaden codex are physically divided by genre: the first gathering (f. 466–472v) has responsories and antiphons; the second gathering (f. 473–481v) has hymns, sequences, the Allelulia (473v), and the liturgical drama Ordo Virtutum. These two generic groups are divided by the Kyrie chant (f. 472v). There are also two thematic cycles organized hierarchically: the first from the Holy Trinity to the Dedication of the Church; and the second from the Holy Spirit and Mary to chants for Virgins and Widows.
The manuscript was held at the Rupertsberg monastery until the seventeenth century, when the nuns fled during the Thirty Years' War, taking the manuscript with them. From the seventeenth to the nineteenth centuries, it was kept at the daughter house that Hildegard had established across the Rhine in Eibingen in 1165. That monastery was ordered to be closed in the early nineteenth century, and the manuscript was transferred to the new state library in Wiesbaden, known today as the Hochschul- und Landesbibliothek RheinMain. It remained there until 1942 when it was sent to Dresden for safe-keeping during WWII. It was transferred to the Soviet sector of Berlin in late 1947 or early 1948, and was returned to Wiesbaden in March 1948, where it has remained.
The differentiae in this manuscript are labelled according to their modal type: protus (1 or 2); deuterus (3 or 4); tritus (5 or 6); and tetrardus (7 or 8). Within each modal type, unique differentiae are identified by an uppercase letter indicating the final pitch of the differentia and an arbitrarily-assigned number, e.g. A1, D2, etc. The Volpiano transcription of each differentia is included in the Extra field.
Hildegard von Bingen. Lieder: Faksimile Riesencodex (Hs. 2) der Hessischen Landesbibliothek Wiesbaden, fol. 466-481v. Edited by Lorenz Welker. Commentary by Michael Klaper. Wiesbaden: L. Reichert Verlag, 1998.
Embach, Michael and Martina Wallner. Conspectus der Handschriften Hildegards von Bingen. Münster: Aschendorff Verlag, 2013, 308-309.
Hildegard von Bingen. Ordo virtutum: A Comparative Edition. Edited by Vincent Corrigan. Lions Bay, Canada: The Institute of Medieval Music, 2013.
Bain, Jennifer. "History of a Book: Hildegard of Bingen's Riesencodex and WWII." Unpublished manuscript. March 10, 2017.