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Sunday, August 12, 2007

Musical Musings: The Sacred Feminine

My original goal was to post on one of my favorite composers of Christian music focusing on the divine feminine, Colleen Fulmer. Readers of my blog may remember that I have posted a couple of sermons which make use of her wonderful music celebrating images found in scripture and tradition. You can find them here and here. Letha Dawson Scanzoni has a great article in the EEWC newsletter describing Colleen's journey from Roman Catholic nun and lay minister to Methodist pastor, as well as the trajectory of her three musical collections. It turns out there are some availability issues...but she is still worth knowing about, and keeping your eye out for used copies. And Sophia Spirit, the website which offers her one available tape has a plethora of wonderful women's spirituality resources, so do your own explorations and please let us know if you have--or buy-- any of their other offerings in the comments.

Colleen Fulmer's first tape, "Cry of Ramah," was originally a Master of Theological Studies project not meant for public distribution. However, it was so spiritually nourishing for women that it became widely known in feminist Catholic circles. The tape contains a variety of songs focusing on female divine images in Scripture and Tradition, great women of the Bible, and social justice--a concern always present in Colleen's work. It made a huge influence on me and my friends in college; unfortunately, my copy bit the dust in our car accident and it is no longer available, nor is the accompanying songbook.

The second, "Her Wings Unfurled," is still available in tape format; a songbook is also available. It has a special focus on the Holy Spirit, and songs making creative use of the stories of Miriam and Sarah, all with Fulmer's patented combination of clear and powerful vocals, lyrical piano, and energetic guitar. Some are healing and consoling, others energizing and uplifting, even humorous. Additional features include several bilingual songs (Spanish and English) and a couple of duets with the well known male singer Jesse Manibusan.
Some of my favorites include "Living Water" (bilingual), "Stricken Deer," and the lively "No Song"--inspiring when you need to set a boundary or take care of yourself. "There is a piece of wisdom, all the world should know: the same Spirit who calls us to say yes, also bids us to say no....So I'll say no, no, no, a thousand times I'll say no! Read my lips! It's so clear; just open up your ears, I'm saying no, no, no, no, no, no, no no." The tape is definitely worth getting if, like me, you haven't completely switched to CD and/or IPod.

Argh! Tragedy! The third collection, "Dancing Sophia's Circle," is marvelous and, as the title suggests, focuses mainly on the biblical divine figure of Sophia/Lady Wisdom. I purchased the cd a year ago and found it very powerful, but when I went to link for this post found that both it and the songbook are out of print. I have written to the distributors to see if more copies are due to be issued at any point, and will post an update when I receive one.

Anyway, the distributors, SophiaSpirit, are well worth knowing about in their own right. Their site features a wide and high quality variety of contemporary women's music from both Christian and non-Christian perspectives, as well as art and books. Some are as well known as Holly Near or Miriam Therese Winter; others are lesser known gems like Bernadette Farrell or Shaina Noll. So if you don't feel like trying out "Her Wings Unfurled," a visit will provide you with access to other wonderful resources for your own enjoyment as well as use in adult education or retreat settings.

In particular, I haven't heard Kathryn Christian's "Come, Holy Mother: Sacred Lullabies", but her use of texts from Scripture and medieval women mystics, including Mechthild of Magdeburg and Catherine of Siena, makes me want to order her CD. The write-up has an evocative quote, I am guessing from the cover, from Julian of Norwich. It sums up for me the importance of finding accessible ways to connect with the love of God the Mother, a hidden presence in our Christian tradition, for both ourselves and those to whom we minister:

This fair and lovely word mother is so sweet and so kind in itself that it cannot truly be said of anyone or to anyone except of the One and to the One who is the true Mother of all life and of all things.

To the property of motherhood belong nature, love, wisdom and knowledge . . . and this is God.


  1. Mother Laura, I am wondering if these are similar to the Motherheart CD at this web site. I have that CD and it is beautiful.

    I will be interested in finding out what the publishers say - what a bummer they are not available!

  2. Thanks, Laura--so much new-to me-music to listen to and love!

  3. Well, the "Her Wings Unfurled" tape is still available, and is excellent--but that is only relevant for those not in the cutting edge of music delivery.

    The Motherheart site is cool and the CD sounds good too, so I should probably check that out at some point as well.

  4. lots to think about and ponder over here Laura- thank you :-)

  5. Hey thanks for this! Have been looking for some quality good Christian music! Very timely!


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