A worthwile dance with St Thomas Aquinas

Text and photo: Hilkka-Liisa Vuori
Reminiscence from the convent garden in Colmar

Finally we are here: The book about the medieval offices of St Thomas Aquinas has been published! A long writing journey together with Marika and Seppo has ended.  I feel deeply grateful for this joint project! Some thoughts about the process.

For me, there have been endless hours of analysing, comparing, singing and researching the chant material. My personal  task has been filled with thoughts about modes, their connection to the texts and the material for St Dominic’s office.  As a pedagogue, I always seem to find a larger perspective on education. In this study, it has been the realisation about the beauty of the rhymed office and the modal cycle with changing modes. In my part of the study, it grew into the idea of obedience: letting one mode go and moving on to the next one, a modal cycle as the spiritual and practical ground for the liturgical life in the monastery.

As a trio of writers, I have felt that our work has at its best been like a dance. When somebody has suggested some sentences, the others have bowed and joined the dance with a solid mind of making the dance worthwhile. The key element in writing together has been presence. This is something for which I especially want to thank Marika for! She was persistent that we need to write face to face in the same room regularly. What a pleasure it was to share the text and built it from three different directions!

I wish that our book could be a source book for the enthusiastic scholars who study and write together with different scholarly minds; in our case, poetry, culture history and music form an entity. The result is, I dare say, an extremely interesting approach to the medieval saintly office.