This song collection began in collaboration with McKenzie Brown at Freebirds World Burrito Mexican Restaurant. In New Wineskins Community, she accompanied our songs on her guitar. A talented composer and lyricist, McKenzie also enlivened our gatherings with her new compositions. One of her first was “We Are Rising Up Together” to the tune of “Will the Circle Be Unbroken,” beginning with these stanzas:
I was standing, with convictions
but alone from day to day.
And I wondered, were there others
who could help me find my way?
Then one day I found my people,
for the first time, unconstrained.
We rejoiced and started planning
how to ease the world of pain.
McKenzie and I met often at Freebirds to talk about our songs. We found a quiet spot, and, over our burrito bowls, we often sang to each other new songs we had drafted and brought for feedback. Not only did we review our songs, but we also discussed our process of writing and our reasons for writing lyrics. McKenzie stirred me to reflect more deeply on my philosophy of hymn writing.
It has also been a joy to continue my collaboration of more than 20 years with composer Larry E. Schultz. He wrote fresh arrangements of traditional tunes for some of the songs in this collection. Also an accomplished lyricist, he created lyrics and music for some new songs. Larry and I have previously collaborated on Inclusive Hymns for Liberating Christians; Inclusive Hymns for Liberation, Peace, and Justice; Earth Transformed with Music! Inclusive Hymns for Worship; Inclusive Songs for Resistance & Social Action; Imagine God! A Children’s Musical Exploring and Expressing Images of God; Sing and Dance and Play with Joy! Inclusive Songs for Young Children, and choral anthems.
We keep writing songs because we believe so strongly in the power of music to spread the good news of peace, justice, liberation, and abundant life for all people. This new song collection, like our others, proclaims this good news with lyrics inclusive in gender and race and with themes of social justice and peacemaking. The title of this collection, Inclusive Songs from the Heart of Gospel, comes from our choice of gospel music tunes for most of our texts. This title is likewise appropriate for our songs set to other tunes because we draw from the meaning of the Greek New Testament word for “gospel,” euangelion, also translated as “good news.” We reclaim these gospel tunes and other tunes we love with inclusive lyrics to sound the good news that transforms our world.
The songs in this new collection bring good news for all races and all genders, celebrating the sacredness of all people and all creation. They name Deity as female and male and more to support the foundational biblical truth that all people are created equally in the divine image.
This collection includes all new songs for use in worship services, small groups, retreats, music camps, activist gatherings, and individual meditation. Many of the songs are appropriate for multifaith and multigenerational settings.