“Longing for Her Rebirth” Christmas Carol Video

Alison Newvine created this video with lyrics I wrote to a familiar Christmas carol  tune, and photos by Elaine Chan-Scherer, Lori Figueroa and Carol Schlesinger. This carol is sung by Alison and others in Spiral Muse—Dionne Kohler, Kathleeen Neville Fritz and Lana Dalberg.

Our weary world in anguish cries, longing for Her rebirth;
we yearn to bring Sophia nigh, longing for Her rebirth.

When will Her peace and love increase? When will all know Her worth?
Sophia yearns to help us learn Wisdom for Her rebirth.

For ages long Sophia’s song rings out through all the earth;
we seek today Her peaceful way, longing for Her rebirth.

Wisdom Sophia helps us see everyone’s sacred worth;
with voices strong we sing Her song, longing for Her rebirth.

Words © 2017 Jann Aldredge-Clanton         COVENTRY CAROL

Wisdom is an ancient divine image, common to many religious traditions. “Wisdom” is Hokmah in the Hebrew Scriptures and Sophia in Greek in the Christian Scriptures. Divine Wisdom existed before creation and took part in creation. “Ages ago I was set up, at the first, before the beginning of the earth” (Proverbs 8:23).

So whatever happened to Wisdom? In all my years growing up in church I never heard of God as Wisdom. I never heard God referred to as “She,” even though the Bible uses Wisdom as a female personification of God and refers to Wisdom as “She.” “Happy are those who find Wisdom. 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 3:13,15,17-18).

More than ever, our country and our world are in deep need of Wisdom. But Wisdom and other female divine images continue to be excluded, as women have been excluded from leadership and still are in many religious traditions. Wisdom is sadly missing. Instead of Wisdom, we have racism, sexism, misogyny, heterosexism, and other injustices. Instead of Wisdom, we have violence. Instead of Wisdom, we have greed. Instead of inclusive images of Deity that affirm all human beings as created in the divine image, we have exclusive images that devalue more than half of humanity. We need Wisdom and other female divine images so that there will be justice for females and for all human beings. Without Wisdom we all suffer.

Our weary world longs for Her rebirth. We all long for Her rebirth. All creation longs for Her rebirth.

“Longing for Her Rebirth” is one of the Advent and Christmas carols in the new collection Inclusive Songs for Resistance & Social Action.

 

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“Come to Our World, O Christ-Sophia” Christmas Carol Video

Our world is in deep need of healing. As we join together to labor and to sing of healing, peace, and justice, we create a better world. We give birth to Christ-Sophia, who provides a foundation for equality and justice. Christ-Sophia empowers us to make the Gospel vision of new creation a reality. This Christmas carol video expresses longing, hope, and celebration of 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                              CANTIQUE DE NOEL

It’s been a joy to collaborate on “Come to Our World, O Christ-Sophia” and other inclusive carols with a splendid music group from Ebenezer/herchurch Lutheran in San Francisco. Alison Newvine, Dionne Kohler, Kathleen Neville Fritz, Lana Dalberg, and I had a wonderful time creating an Advent/Christmas album, Sing of Peace.

“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. Christ-Sophia brings change to church and society by forming a theological foundation for gender and racial equality, dismantling patriarchy and creating egalitarian communities.

Sophia, the Greek word for “Wisdom,” is a biblical female divine image. New Testament writers link Christ to Sophia (“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, justice, and equity in our world. For a fuller explanation, see In Search of the Christ-Sophia: An Inclusive Christology for Liberating Christians.

Video Credits

Performed by: Spiral Muse (formerly Devi Vaani)—Dionne Kohler, Kathleen Neville-Fritz, and Alison Newvine with Lana Dalberg on violin—from album “Sing of Peace,” recorded at Joe Hoffmann Studios, Occidental, CA

Lyrics: Jann Aldredge-Clanton

Visual Art:

Mirta Toledo:  “Sophia”

Alice Heimsoth: photo of candlelight service in Ebenezer/herchurch Lutheran, San Francisco

Katherine Skaggs: “Black Madonna”

Sande Harte: photo of circle of women, Alchemy of Women’s Collective Wisdom and Power

Black Lives Matter photo, “How Black Lives Matter is Changing British Universities,” Sadhvi Dar, The Nation 

Me Too March photo, “People are questioning why Taylor Swift’s was among Time Magazine’s ‘The Silence Breakers,’” Ruchira Sharma, International Business Times:

Equity for Women in the Church, photo from website

Photo of woman crossing river with 3 children, “Mexico Worries About Its Own Southern Border” The New York Times

Eastside Baptist Church Choir photo, “’PLU Sunday’ Celebrates Life, Faith, and the Friendship Shared by BLU and Eastside Baptist Church,” Pacific Lutheran University website

Nevertheless She Preached 2018, photo from Facebook page

Photo of abused woman, “We Can Save Some of America’s Most Vulnerable Women from Violence,” Jenny Shank, Nation Swell

Nevertheless She Preached 2017, photo from Facebook page

The Gathering: A Womanist Church, photo from website:

Photo of house destroyed, “Puerto Rico Two Months After,” Mato’s Blog

Photo of woman holding sign, “Peace, Jobs, Justice, Schools Not Bombs,” Santa Cruz IMC

Photo of Our Lady of Guadalupe at march, “Mexicans Celebrate Virgen de Guadalupe,SF Gate

Photo of relief workers in Puerto Rico, “2017 Hurricane Maria: Facts, FAQS, and How to Help,” World Vision

Photo of students at March for Our Lives Rally, “Thousands register to vote at March for Our Lives demonstrations,” NBC News

 

 

 

 

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“O Holy Darkness” Christmas Carol Video

This Christmas season gives us a wonderful opportunity to sing carols for racial and gender justice. Our music can contribute to racial equality as well as gender equality.

Worship language and symbolism all too often contribute to racism as well as sexism. In many hymns, prayers, scripture readings, and sermons, images of darkness carry negative connotations while images of light carry positive connotations. Visual images of a white God fill many churches. This symbolism gives greatest value to white people while devaluing people of color.

Multicultural visual images of Deity and language that symbolizes darkness as creative bounty and beauty contribute to racial equality by affirming the equal sacred value of people of color. The Creative Spirit works in the darkness of the night, the soul, the earth, the womb.

Multicultural images of Deity intersect with female images of Deity to form a foundation for equality and justice. “O Holy Darkness, Loving Womb” images darkness as a sacred well of richest beauty, as nurturing love, and as creative bounty. This song draws from Isaiah 45:3 that celebrates “the treasures of darkness” and from the Hebrew word rahum, usually translated “compassion” in the Bible, but Hebrew Bible scholar Phyllis Trible shows that it’s more accurately translated “womb-love.” “O Holy Darkness, Loving Womb” also includes Sophia (Greek word for “Wisdom” in the New Testament), a female divine name and image. Sophia is most often pictured as dark. The treasures of Her darkness inspire us all to claim our sacredness and to affirm the sacredness in all others.

O Holy Darkness, loving Womb, who nurtures and creates,
sustain us through the longest night with dreams of open gates.
We move inside to mystery that in our center dwells,
where streams of richest beauty flow from sacred, living wells.

Creative Darkness, closest Friend, you whisper in the night;
you calm our fears as unknown paths surprise us with new sight.
We marvel at your bounty, your gifts so full and free,
unfolding as you waken us to new reality.

O Holy Night of deepest bliss, we celebrate your power;
infuse us with your energy that brings our seeds to flower.
The voice out of the darkness excites our warmest zeal
to bring together dark and light, true holiness reveal.

O come to us, Sophia; your image, black and fair,
stirs us to end injustice and the wounds of earth repair.
The treasures of your darkness and riches of your grace
inspire us to fulfill our call, our sacredness embrace.

Words © Jann Aldredge-Clanton, from Inclusive Hymns for Liberating Christians

It was a joy to collaborate on this video with Shannon Kincaid, an outstanding vocal and visual artist. Shannon sings “O Holy Darkness, Loving Womb” to the tune of “O Little Town of Bethlehem.” Her beautiful painting of Oprah Winfrey holding a child creates a powerful finale for this video.

Shannon painted “Oprah and Child” to get attention on a national scale for the cause of women with ovarian cancer. For many years Shannon has been a generous, tireless advocate for this cause. She generously gave her artistic talent for the covers of two books of stories by ovarian cancer survivors: TORCH: Tales of Remarkable Courage and Hope and TORCH: Still Burning Brightly. To get Oprah’s attention to do a show featuring ovarian cancer survivors, Shannon painted a large picture of Oprah cradling a child and sent it to her with all the TORCH materials inside the crate. After a long and winding road, Oprah met with Shannon, accepted the painting, and promised to let her know if she ever discussed ovarian cancer at some point on her show. In February after this meeting in October, Oprah chose an ovarian cancer fund as one of her favorite ten charities. Soon after, The Oprah Winfrey Show went off the air, but Oprah influenced Dr. Oz to highlight the cause of ovarian cancer on two of his shows. Shannon’s painting of Oprah now hangs above the fireplace in the library of The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Video Credits

Performed by: Shannon Kincaid

Lyrics: Jann Aldredge-Clanton

Visual Art:

Stacy Boorn: “Mystery,” “Smokey Sky,” “Mother & Child,” “Dancing after Work at ‘Speak I’m Listening,’” “Streams,” “Sunset,” “Feather Dance,” “Sunrise Crete,” “Holy Night,” “Addis Ababa Market Vendors,” “Seeds to Flower,” and “LightDarkness” © Stacy Boorn.

David Clanton: “Garden for Good or Evil”

Mirta Toledo: “Sophia”

Shannon Kincaid: “Oprah & Child”

Elizabeth Zedaran: “Flow”

Instruments:

Keyboard: Ron DiIulio
Guitar: Danny Hubbard
Bass & Percussion: Jerry Hancock

Music Produced/Arranged by: Ron DiIulio

 

 

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Inclusive Carols for Advent and Christmas

Imagine Christmas carols you love but with lyrics that include the Divine Feminine to celebrate the sacredness of all people and all creation! Imagine Christmas carols that sing of peace for all people and for the earth. This Christmas album, Sing of Peace, will bring inspiration, healing, and empowerment through new inclusive lyrics to familiar Christmas carol tunes, sung in sublime harmonies by Spiral Muse (formerly Devi Vaani). The carols in Sing of Peace reclaim and amplifiy the themes of peace, joy, hope, awe, and love that so much of the world associates with the Christmas season. They include the experiences of women, minorities, and all oppressed people who are not directly referenced in traditional Christmas music. Including multicultural biblical female divine names and images, Sing of Peace affirms the sacred value of females throughout the world who continue to suffer from violence and abuse. This Christmas album celebrates the sacredness of all people and all creation. It weaves the magic and mystery of Christmas with urgent cries for justice, an end to suffering, and respect and dignity for all beings.

“These Christmas songs are for anyone who is looking for rich, creative, and inclusive words to inhabit comforting and familiar tunes,” writes Lutheran theologian Dr. Caryn D. Riswold in her Patheos blog.

Order: Amazon; cdbaby

Here is one of the songs in this Christmas album:

 

 

Singing inclusive carols is one way to take action for social justice. Just when I think I’ve written inclusive lyrics to all the Christmas tunes I love, I find more!

Inclusive Songs for Resistance & Social Action has more of these Advent and Christmas carols. Here is “Sophia, Holy Wisdom” to the tune of “God Rest You Merry Gentlemen”:

Sophia, Holy Wisdom
(Proverbs 3:17-18)

Sophia, Holy Wisdom, be born in us, we pray;
we labor for Your coming, Your just and peaceful way;
our wounded world cries out to You for healing every day:
Sophia, our wisdom and peace, wisdom and peace;
Sophia, our wisdom and peace!

Now violence and oppression bring suffering everywhere;
come, live in us, Sophia, encourage us to dare,
to join with You to change the world, to spread Your loving care:
Sophia, our wisdom and peace, wisdom and peace;
Sophia, our wisdom and peace!

Your Advent, Holy Wisdom, brings Good News unto all;
You give us all new power to take down every wall,
so every gender, every race can feel Your sacred call:
Sophia, our wisdom and peace, wisdom and peace;
Sophia, our wisdom and peace!

Sophia, Holy Wisdom, we celebrate Your birth;
You bring new hope of freedom and peace throughout the earth;
now everyone and all creation claim our sacred worth:
Sophia, our wisdom and peace, wisdom and peace;
Sophia, our wisdom and peace!

Words © Jann Aldredge-Clanton          GOD REST YOU MERRY

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“O Come, Christ-Sophia” Video

Advent celebrates the coming of the Divine into the world.  Christ-Sophia is a divine name and image, celebrating the sacred value of all people and all creation. Our world longs for the coming of Christ-Sophia, who embodies wisdom, justice, peace, equity, mutual relationship, liberation, grace, hope, and new life.

O come, Christ-Sophia, full of grace and wisdom;
come bless us, come challenge us to make life anew.
Come bring us power, beauty, hope, and harmony.

We long for your coming, labor for your birthing,
for you are our hope of peace, our power for change.
Come, Christ-Sophia, break down walls and free us.

Rejoice all you people; sisters, brothers, join now
to sing of a bright new day just dawning for all.
Sing now a new song; sing with jubilation.

REFRAIN

O come, thou Christ-Sophia; O come, thou Christ-Sophia;
O come, thou Christ-Sophia, wisdom and peace.

Words © 1996 Jann Aldredge-Clanton                                    ADESTE FIDELES

It’s been a joy to collaborate on “O Come, Christ-Sophia” and other inclusive carols with a splendid music group from Ebenezer/herchurch Lutheran in San Francisco. Alison Newvine, Dionne Kohler, Kathleen Neville Fritz, Lana Dalberg, and I had a wonderful time creating an Advent/Christmas album, Sing of Peace.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“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. Christ-Sophia brings change to church and society by providing a theological foundation for gender and racial equality.

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,  justice, and equity in our world. For a fuller explanation, see In Search of the Christ-Sophia: An Inclusive Christology for Liberating Christians.

Christ-Sophia inspires continual new birth. Christ-Sophia empowers us to make the Gospel vision of the new creation a reality. Sing and celebrate the coming of Christ-Sophia! Sing of peace and justice and new life! 

Video Credits

Performed by: Spiral Muse (formerly Devi Vaani)—Dionne Kohler, Kathleen Neville-Fritz, and Alison Newvine with Lana Dalberg on violin—from album “Sing of Peace,” recorded at Joe Hoffmann Studios, Occidental, CA

Lyrics: Jann Aldredge-Clanton

Visual Art:

Katie Ketchum: “Christ-Sophia”

Mary Plaster: “Sophia, Divine Wisdom”

Mirta Toledo: “Saint Sophia”

Shonna McDaniels: “Black Madonna”

The Gathering: A Womanist Church, photos from website

Equity for Women in the Church, Memphis Theological Seminary, photo by Michael Owens
Equity for Women in the Church, Perkins School of Theology, photo by David Clanton

Alice Heimsoth: photo of labyrinth in sanctuary of Ebenezer/herchurch Lutheran, San Francisco

Elizabeth Zedaran: “Flow”

Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests, photo from National Catholic Reporter

Photo from Women’s March 2017, from article by Colin Dwyer on Michigan NPR News Station website

Photo of rally led by faith leaders in front of Baltimore city hall calling for justice in response to death of Freddie Gray, posted in article by Margaret Myers on PBS News Hour website

French artist “JR”: giant child at the US-Mexico border, from article by Inigo del Castillo on “Lost at E Minor” website

David Clanton: photos of children dancing & children singing, from Imagine God! A Children’s Musical Exploring and Expressing Images of God events

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