According to ecclesiastical tradition, Saint Cecilia (Ceacilia) was a virgin and martyr who lived in Rome in the 3rd century and came from the Roman family of the Cecilians. Cecilia is one of the most popular saints, especially in the Romanic countries, her name being a frequently used maiden name. Cecilia is known as an emergency helper and since the late Middle Ages as the patron saint of church music. She owes this patronage to a translation error according to which she herself played the organ at her wedding.
Heinrich von Kleist’s story “Die heilige Cäcilie oder die Gewalt der Musik” (The Holy Cecilie or the Violence of Music), which he himself describes as a rendition of an old legend, appeared in its long form in 1811. It takes place in Aachen around the end of the 16th century, when the iconoclasts raged in the neighbouring Netherlands. The monastery of St. Cecilia in Aachen was also to be stormed. But the saint – unrecognised in the form of her sister Kapellmeisterin – performs terrible and wonderful miracles at the same time: the mysterious power of old music, which she performs at the head of the nun’s choir, tames the wild gang that invaded the monastery. The monastery was saved, and – according to Kleist – it continued to exist until the end of the Thirty Years’ War.
Saint Cäcilia is considered the patron saint of church music; organists, organ builders, instrument makers, singers, musicians and poets. The 22nd of November is her commemoration day. It is therefore no wonder that many composers dedicated these sacred compositions. (Sources: Wikipedia/Heiligenlexikon)
List for Wind Orchestra
List for Choir