Re-valuing Women Hymn Writers  

A Letter from Janet Wootton, Executive President for the Hymn Society of Great Britain and Ireland

Resounding Voices is a wonderful title for this great new enterprise. As the paper, “Re-Valuing Women Hymn Writers” says:

We have barely scratched the surface of what women have to offer in congregational song.

Women’s voices have been systematically silenced, through the apparent decree of a stern male God (Let women keep silence...). Women have been hidden, anonymized, confined to domestic matters then ridiculed for failing to engage with public issues. The result is that the rich experience of women, the story of transformation, activism, laughter and rage, has been expunged from the world’s narrative.

What is extraordinary is that female voices do make it through from time to time. There we are in scripture: divine Wisdom, rebellious midwives, first witnesses to the Resurrection. Here we are in life: fearless evangelists, transformers of society, prophets, preachers, singers, priests, speaking, with the authority of God and the integrity of the marginalized; echoing the voice of Jesus.

Today’s emerging truth is that women’s voices enter the arena in company with the glorious diversity of humankind, too long suppressed. In the forty years since the publication of The Hymnal and twenty years since Voices Found, we have begun to recognize the range of voices that have been silenced, and the amazing wealth of experience that is waiting to burst into expression.

So I hope that you will read the paper: “Re-Valuing Women Hymn Writers,” return to the texts that are sacred to you, relive the narratives of women and men hidden under generations of colonialism and patriarchy, open your heart to God, and write!