Years after being influenced and inspired by the work of hymn poet, Brian Wren (see previous blog post), I met Jann Aldredge-Clanton with whom I have collaborated since 2001. Jann is a minister, author, English professor, lyricist, hymn poet, hospital chaplain and feminist theologian (quite qualified to write effective and prophetic words for the church!). In the spring of that year, I heard Jann offer the Covenant Address for the Alliance of Baptists Convocation. She powerfully encouraged congregations to discover and reclaim images of the Divine Feminine – and to sing them in worship. She underscored the biblical foundations and the many reasons to sing of God as “She” and “Her” – not the least of which was to liberate all from oppressive patriarchy and to exclaim the truth that females are in the Divine Image.
Several months after hearing Jann’s address, I became Minister of Music for Pullen Memorial Baptist Church, Raleigh, NC. With her words still ringing in my ears and a congregation eager to sing of the Divine Feminine, I reached out to introduce myself to Jann. Revealing I was a composer, I asked if she had any texts I could set to music. On September 11, 2001 (a morning that was met with unspeakable tragedy), I discovered an email from Jann that included a hymn text for me to set. The text she sent, “Are You Good and Are You Strong?” was a theodicy (questioning the presence of goodness in midst of evil). The words were unbelievably timely and cathartic for the particular day on which I received them.
A musical, curriculum, anthems, 5 song collections and 378 hymns later, Jann and I are still collaborating! Though I have provided new tunes and arrangements for many of Jann’s hymns, I have typeset all of them for our collections, and in doing so, have continued to be a student of her ministry.
Jann Aldredge-Clanton & Larry E. Schultz
Feminist theology, like other specific theologies, intersects with many areas of thought, study, concern and celebration. The works Jann and I have created together support these areas and engage justices of all kinds – from gender and racial to economic and ecological. With ever-evolving language, we seek to provide words and music for worship that uplift all persons of innumerable and wonderful descriptions.
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Larry E. Schultz is a Minister of Music, composer, hymn writer and teacher.