Worship in Women's Hands

A documentary exploring the meaning of women's liturgies for faith communities now and into the future

About the Music

The music heard in the documentary has a history which I would like to record here, as it was not possible to give all the credits on the DVD that were due to the various people who contributed in one way or another. With one exception I composed the music, and in some cases wrote or adapted the lyrics, but there were other lyricists to whom credit is due.

We Are Women Walking is the refrain for a larger work which was written by Adele Neal (Brisbane 1996) for a musical, “Pandora and Eve”. Adele wrote the lyrics and I composed the music for this event. The refrain has taken on a life of its own now and has been used on many occasions, including the liturgies on the documentary and at Immaculate Conception Church’s Women’s Retreats.

Anna’s Psalm (2006) is a setting of lovely words by Miriam Therese Winter. They are what she imagines the prophet Anna might have said, although only Simeon’s words are recorded in the Gospel. Teresa Berger asked me to think about them for the third liturgy, and the song came to me, as they typically do, all at once and when I was not expecting it! (Miriam Therese Winter, “Anna’s Psalm,” in WomanWord: A Feminist Lectionary and Psalter, Women of the New Testament (New York: Crossroad 1991) 43. Copyright (c) 1990. Used with permission of the Medical Mission Sisters.)

See at the Table (2006) is a short refrain which might one day become the antiphon to a psalm. I composed it especially for the liturgy “A Feast of Real Presence”. It was used at the point at which women were invited to put spiritually significant items on the altar, naming their reasons if they so chose.

Come into the Wilderness was composed for the Uniting Church’s Third Women’s Gathering in Brisbane, January 1996. The lyrics were written by Adele Neal. It was part of what we called a “space”, an experiential area where women entered into a “desert” and considered experiences which might relate to having a “wilderness” experience. It is another song which has been used in many contexts since then.

In the Hildegard liturgy, these are the songs you will hear:

Circle was originally composed for the 25th anniversary of Elaine Wainwright’s profession. The lyrics celebrated her academic career and her spiritual ministry, inspiring students and colleagues on their own journeys. I adapted Adele Neal’s original lyrics for the celebration of Hildegard’s life and works.

I Love you God my Strength is an antiphon for psalm 18, and one day I will set the verses!

Caritas Habundat is one of Hildegard’s original compositions, an antiphon for Divine Love. The version used on the DVD is a transcription from the Dendermonde MS, one of the earliest records of Hildegard’s songs. Dr Catherine Jeffreys.

Divine Love is the song I composed to enable contemporary congregations to sing some of the words Hildegard hears spoken in her vision by the personification of Divine Love. I took the words of this song loosely from Sabina Flanagan’s translation of part of Hildegard’s third theological work, the Book of Divine Works. The melody uses some of the modal elements in Caritas Habundat, and mirrors what I suggest is a deliberately ambiguous ending in Hildegard’s original song.

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