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Song of Songs for International Women's Day

by Michael Ford last modified 14 Mar, 2019 04:57 PM

Song of Songs wasn't just the text for the International Women’s Day service in Salisbury this week, you could say it was the theme of the whole celebration.

Song of Songs for International Women's Day

(photo courtesy Stephen Lycett)

The special service hosted by St Thomas’s Church, was devised, commissioned and planned by Multitude of Voyces, which exists to support Inclusive Community through music with underrepresented, underutilised, vulnerable or marginalised communities.

Multitude of Voyces, which combines the skills and expertise of several local professional musicians, teachers, priests, music therapists, writers and performers to draw together groups of the community who may not usually work together, featured the Godolphin Vocal Ensemble, directed by conductor and composer Olivia Sparkhall, as well as several local professional women writers, musicians and composers.

The entire content of the service was written and composed by women, and included old and new hymns, sung prayers, religious texts by Jane Austen and Dame Julian of Norwich, anthems and voluntaries.

The service was led by the Revd Wendy Cooper, Associate Priest at St Thomas’s Church and the guest preacher was The Right Reverend Karen Gorham, Bishop of Sherborne, who said:
"It was good to be part of this International Women's Day celebration. Particularly to hear words of Mother Julian and a prayer by Jane Austen set to music composed, directed, accompanied and sung by women.

I have never preached on Song of Songs before - the only part of Scripture in a woman's voice, giving us a woman who knows what she wants and which rebalances in the Old Testament the place of women given in Genesis and a book much loved by the Saints and Mystics as depicting God, the Creator of the Heavens who longs for a relationship with each of us. Fascinating."

Composer Gemma McGregor travelled all the way from the Orkneys to hear the world premiere of her new composition ‘Love was his meaning’, especially commissioned for this service as part of Multitude of Voyces’ ‘Women in Sacred Music’ project.’

25 years after the ordination of the first women priests, tweets are going out in celebration of the everyday, the extraordinary, and everything in between, of being a priest and a woman. 
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