|Posted by St. Alban's Episcopal Church on March 24, 2021 at 9:05 AM|
In March, as we celebrate Women’s History Month, the invaluable contribution women have made and are making to the church’s song is so abundantly evident. The texts and/or melodies of many treasured songs are gifts derived from the creativity of poets and composers who happen to be women. Songs from The Hymnal 1982 such as “O Beautiful for Spacious Skies”(words by Katherine Lee Bates); “Seek Ye First the Kingdom of God”(adaption of Matt. 6 and music by Karen Lafferty) and “Be Thou My Vision”(Irish, ca. 700 text versified by Mary Elizabeth Byrne and translated by Eleanor H. Hull) are all the creation of artists who are women.
In previous articles, I have discussed two of the supplemental hymnals published by the Episcopal Church: Wonder, Love and Praise and Lift Every Voice and Sing. There is another supplement called Voices Found which includes only texts or music written by women. During this last year I have sung some of these songs in the online services. I’d like to share the text of one that deals with the woman who anointed Jesus’ feet in Mark 14. The title of the hymn is “She Poured the Perfume Lavishly” and the words were written by Delores Dufner.
She poured the perfume lavishly, a pound of precious nard, anointing tenderly the feet that nails too soon would pierce. With fragrance sweet the house was filled, with scent of loving deed. What gift shall I pour out for him who gave his very life? The treasure of my heart he seeks, the precious nard of love. With fragrance let me fill his house, with scent of lavish love.
This beautiful interpretation of the story from Mark is but one example of how the church’s song has been so deeply enriched by the gifts of women. We give thanks for these gifts and the women who so freely shared them.