For many years I longed to hear and sing Christmas carols that included biblical female images of God. Then Sophia Wisdom called me to write new inclusive lyrics for the Christmas songs I so love. Sophia Wisdom works within us and throughout our world. She Lives!
Here is my Christmas gift to you of some of my inclusive carols.
Midwife Divine Now Calls Us
Rev. Larry E. Schultz conducts the choir and congregation of Pullen Memorial Baptist Church, Raleigh, North Carolina, in singing “Midwife Divine Now Calls Us” to a familiar carol tune.
One of the female divine names and images in the Bible is that of Midwife. “Yet it was you who took me from the womb; you kept me safe on my mother’s breast. On you I was cast from my birth, and since my mother bore me, you have been my God” (Psalm 22:9-10). In this psalm, the poet expresses feelings of being forsaken and persecuted, and finds reassurance in this picture of God’s tender care beginning at birth. Another image of the Divine Midwife comes in Isaiah 66:9: “’Shall I open the womb and not deliver?’ says God; ‘shall I, the one who delivers, shut the womb?’ says your God.” The image of the Divine Midwife joins with the image of the Divine Mother to strengthen the biblical picture of God’s intimate involvement with us.
This song invites us to join with the Divine Midwife in bringing new life to birth within ourselves and throughout the world.
Words © Jann Aldredge-Clanton, from Inclusive Hymns for Liberating Christians (Eakin Press, 2006). Contact for permissions.
Performed by: Chancel Choir of Pullen Memorial Baptist Church, Raleigh, North Carolina . Conductor: Rev. Larry E. Schultz
Stacy Boorn: “Her-Galaxy” © Stacy Boorn. Used with permission.
Mary Plaster: “Sophia, Divine Wisdom” © 2003 Mary Plaster. Used with permission.
David Clanton: photo of Pullen Memorial Baptist Church Choir, Orchestra, & Congregation © David M. Clanton. Used with permission.
Recorded by: Ward Productions, Pinehurst, North Carolina
Sound Forth the News That Wisdom Comes
Recording artist Shannon Kincaid sings “Sound Forth the News That Wisdom Comes,” with pictures from various artists, to the tune of “Joy to the World.”
The book of Proverbs depicts Wisdom as a female image of the Divine: “She is more precious than jewels, and nothing you desire can compare with Her. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all Her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of Her; those who hold Her fast are called happy” (Proverbs 3: 15, 17-18). “Sound Forth the News That Wisdom Comes” calls us to co-create with Wisdom a world of peace, justice, equality, love, freedom, and joy.
This video gift comes with the hope that Wisdom will guide us to change our violent culture and to co-create with Her a peaceful world.Sound forth the news that Wisdom comes to bring new life to birth. Arise with hope, Her labor join, and peace shall fill the earth, and peace shall fill the earth, and peace, and peace shall fill the earth. No more let fear and custom hide the path of Wisdom fair. She leads the way to life and joy, with gifts for all to share, with gifts for all to share, with gifts, with gifts for all to share. Joyful are we who heed the call of Wisdom in our souls. With Her we break oppression’s wall, so love may freely flow, so love may freely flow, so love, so love may freely flow. Crown Wisdom Queen of heaven and earth. Her reign will set us free. Fling wide the gates that all may come join hands and dance with glee, join hands and dance with glee, join hands, join hands and dance with glee.
Words © Jann Aldredge-Clanton, from Inclusive Hymns for Liberating Christians (Eakin Press, 2006).
Vocal Artist: Shannon Kincaid
David Clanton: “Tree of Life” and two dancing children photos © David M. Clanton. Used with permission.
Lucy A. Synk: “Ruach” © Lucy A. Synk. Used with permission.
Alice Heimsoth: seven photos inside Ebenezer/herchurch Lutheran, San Francisco and two photos from “Sisters Stepp’in Pride” events © Alice Heimsoth. Used with permission.
Mirta Toledo: “Sophia” © 2003 Mirta Toledo. Used with permission.
Shannon Kincaid: “Oprah & Child” and “Queen Maeve” paintings © Shannon Kincaid. Used with permission.
Mary Plaster: “Sophia, Divine Wisdom” © 2003 Mary Plaster. Used with permission.
Elizabeth Zedaran: “Flow” © Elizabeth Zedaran. Used with permission.
Keyboard: Ron DiIulio
Guitar: Danny Hubbard
Bass & Percussion: Jerry Hancock
Music Producer/Arranger: Ron DiIulio
Come to Our World, O Christ-Sophia
Vocal Divine sings stanzas 2 & 3 of “Come to Our World, O Christ-Sophia” at Ebenezer/herchurch Lutheran in San Francisco. Vocal Divine (left to right): Lana Dalberg, Dionne Kohler, Alison Newvine, and Kathleen Neville Fritz.
“Christ-Sophia” is a biblical symbol of the Divine, making equal connections between male and female, black and white, Jewish and Christian traditions, thus providing a foundation for communities based on partnership instead of domination. Sophia, the Greek word for Wisdom, is a biblical female divine image that opens new possibilities for justice, liberation, and new life. New Testament writers link Christ to Wisdom, a feminine symbol of God in the Hebrew Scriptures. Wisdom (Hokmah in Hebrew) symbolizes creative, redemptive, and healing power. In their efforts to describe this same power in Christ, the apostle Paul and other New Testament writers draw from the picture of Wisdom. The apostle Paul refers to Christ as the “power of God and the Wisdom (Sophia) of God” (1 Corinthians 1:24), and states that Christ “became for us Wisdom (Sophia) from God” (1 Corinthians 1:30). The book of Proverbs describes Wisdom as the “way,” the “life,” and the “path” (4:11,22,26). The Gospel of John refers to Christ as “the way, and the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). Bringing this biblical connection of Christ and Sophia to our worship can inspire partnerships that contribute to peace and justice in our world. Christ-Sophia inspires continual new birth. Christ-Sophia empowers us to make the vision of the new creation a reality. Celebrate the birth of Christ-Sophia!Come to our world, O Christ-Sophia, Wisdom; our hearts are longing for Your peaceful way. Lead us from fear and bondage into freedom; with You we labor to bring Your new day. Transform our world, O Christ-Sophia, Wisdom; the poor and wounded await healing days. Give us the power to sound Your call to freedom; as equal partners, we show Your new way. Led by Your Truth and Life within us growing, we follow You on Your pathways of peace. Filled with Your grace, Your loving kindness showing, we share our gifts and our visions release. REFRAIN: Our weary world still longs for new creation, for peace and justice coming to the earth. Hope springs anew; we sing in celebration; O Christ-Sophia, blessed be Your birth; O Christ-Sophia, blessed be Your birth. Words © Jann Aldredge-Clanton, from Inclusive Hymns for Liberation, Peace, and Justice (Eakin Press, 2011).
Our Mother Within Us
Vocal Divine sings “Our Mother Within Us” to a familiar carol tune.
Although many churches limit God to male names and images, Scripture does not limit God to maleness. The Bible gives a multiplicity of divine names and images, including female divine names and images. Maternal divine names and imagery occur throughout the Bible. The prophet Isaiah pictures God as a comforting Mother: “As a Mother comforts Her children, so I will comfort you” (Isaiah 66:13). Biblical mothering images also include a “Nursing Woman” (Isaiah 49:15), “Mother Eagle” (Deuteronomy 32:11-12), and “Mother Hen” (Matthew 23:37).
“Our Mother Within Us” also refers to the biblical call to sing to God a “new song” (Psalm 96:1; 144:9). This new song to a familiar tune is my response with the hope that singing new songs that include female names and images of the Divine will contribute to a new story of love, peace, and justice in the world.Our Mother within us so holy and blessed, You nurture our spirits with comfort and rest. O give us your wisdom and strength for each day, and fill us with love for all people we pray. Our Mother within us, so many your names, revealing our power, you help us to claim our voices of courage to speak against wrong, and joy overflowing to sing a new song. O Mother within us, forever abide, with blessings unfolding and arms open wide; You give us new visions of life full and fair; Your angels surround us with tenderest care. Words © Jann Aldredge-Clanton, from Inclusive Hymns for Liberating Christians (Eakin Press, 2006).
Vocal Divine creates music for Ebenezer/herchurch Lutheran, San Francisco and other venues. Vocal Divine, recorded “HER Sacred Songs,” along with Katie Ketchum, Gary Floyd, and Steve Rausch. The CD is available through herchurch.