Sunday, March 26, 2017

New Hymnal for Women

Altar for Women-Church, Claremont CA, March 26
Are you tired of singing hymns that are all about the Father, He, and Him?

Is your God bigger than that?

The Reverend Elizabeth A. Moore has published a hymnal without all that male gender language.

God Is Still Speaking, We Are Still Singing: New Hymns with Familiar Tunes is the title.

And not to worry, those of you who are not comfortable addressing God as Mother, She, and Her.  The lyrics written by Elizabeth are for you, too, and she uses the tunes of the familiar hymns used in many churches.

Instead of gendered language, her hymns include words like Creator, You, Your, the One, Woman Spirit, God the I AM, Quilter God, Head Gardener, Word of Life, God the Searcher, God of Love, etc.

The Reverend Elizabeth A. Moore leading worship
From left to right: Peg Linnehan, Elizabeth, ________,  Wendy Baer

To avoid overuse of Son and male pronouns for Jesus, she uses Christ, child (vs. son in Christmas carols), God-with-us (the translation of Emmanuel), and God's Own.

You can order the hymnal for $12 by email at or by US mail:
The Reverend Elizabeth A. Moore
Pilgrim Place
Claremont CA 91711

"There is no copyright," she says.  "Use the hymns, adapt them, write your own!"

Elizabeth breaking the bread
Elizabeth led our monthly Women-Church worship service today using these songs from the 99 included in her hymnal:

  • "Come Search with Me" #25
  • "Like Martha" #18
  • "Woman Did They Scorn You?" #24
  • "When My Prayer Flies Unheard" #25
  • "I'm Like the Woman Jesus Healed" #17
  • "The Bent Woman Stands Straight" #19
  • "Mary Brought the Costly Oil" #34
  • "In Praise to God" #94

My favorite is "Like Martha," which uses the tune of "The Church's One Foundation").  It begins:

Like Martha, I'm distracted;
I fail to take the time
To listen, learn from Jesus,
To make Your promise mine.
Beyond her sense of duty,
Where serving might suffice, 
She was a true disciple;
She named him as the Christ.

In her lyrics titled "Mary Brought the Costly Oil," Elizabeth pairs Mary of Bethany and Jesus as the two named foot-washers of the Bible (in addition to the anonymous women in Luke 7:36-50, Matthew 26:6-13, and Mark 14:3-9).  She also pairs the two times Jesus spoke the word "remember"--once at the Last Supper after foot-washing and once in predicting that the anonymous foot-washing woman will be remembered:

Truly I tell you, wherever this good news is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in remembrance of her. - Matthew 26:13

I felt uplifted by Elizabeth's lyrics identifying the women foot-washers with Jesus both in their act of love and in the remembering of that act--just as Jesus washed feet and said "Remember me" on the last evening of his life.

Another woman who writes new, nonsexist lyrics to old familiar hymns is The Reverend Jann Aldredge-Clanton.  She offers two hymnals with new lyrics to old hymns: Earth Transformed with Music! and Inclusive Hymns for Liberation, Peace, and Justice, as well as one with both new and old tunes, Inclusive Hymns for Liberating Christians.

See her website at  

Another resource is the website of Evangelical & Ecumenical Women's Caucus - Christian Feminism Today: .

Language that avoids making God into a male (or Christians into men and brothers)  is called inclusive language.  See Nancy Hardesty's article on this subject:

See also Nancy's book and another by Carolyn Bohler:

Inclusive Language in the Church by Nancy A. Hardesty.  Atlanta: John Knox Press,  1987.
God the What?  What Our Metaphors for God Reveal about Our Beliefs in God by Carolyn Bohler. Woodstock, VT: Skylight Paths Publishing, 2008.  See also an online profile of Carolyn Bohler and her work on metaphors for God and a review of God the What? 

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