We had a lovely Corpus Christi Mass. It was good to clearly help people identify themselves as the body of Christ. Theological research is beginning to show how important this is, particularly among those who are marginalised.
I am also aware of how formative hymnody is upon Christian community, perhaps even more so than the liturgy. In the light of that, I wondered how women in church are seeing themselves as participants in the body of Christ, the life of the divine, reflecting and embodying the vision of God we give in worship.
Last week (Trinity Sunday – which we might expect to be full with Father/Son language) in the hymns/psalms we had:
References to he, him, his 13
Other male titles 13
References to us as exclusively male 1
Bearing in mind that this week we had … Let us build a house, Soul of my saviour, Sweet Sacrament Divine and Praise with joy, all almost entirely without gendered references. You may be surprised at this week’s count in what we sang (not counted during the Mass!)
references to he, him, his 48 !
other male titles 36
references to us as exclusively male 1
so….. being a bringer of solutions rather than problems! I wonder if we might do something – because the evidence from this looks to me like we can’t sit back and think it’s ok if we just ‘balance’ the hymns.
Simple alterations could be made on weeks where there’s a hymn sheet – it wouldn’t take long. In the longer term; we have written our own verses to some hymns to reflect particular festivals that St Chrysostom’s values. What about writing our own verses that promote our inclusive stance? This could be done in workshops so people own and experience a liberating process. Single verses would allow both to maintain the integrity of hymns we cherish and would want to be familiar in the context of our wider Anglican communion and beyond, and also provide clear alternative images of God and our relationship with God – which might in the longer term also influence the wider church too.