A new recording by Kathryn Christian.
Independently produced, 2002.
Reviewed by Letha Dawson Scanzoni
If you attended any or all of the last three EEWC conferences, you’re already aware of the depth and beauty of Kathryn Christian’s music. In Come, Holy Mother, Kathryn’s latest CD, her lovely voice, her talents as a composer, and her knowledge of Scripture, theology, and the medieval women mystics once again come together to provide listeners with an extraordinary musical and spiritual experience. The talents of David Chown at the keyboard and Michael McNamara and Brian Christian on guitar enhance the listening enjoyment.
The title song, Come, Holy Mother, is based on the writings of Julian of Norwich. Inside the CD cover, Kathryn includes some words from Julian that sum up the theme of the CD: “This fair and lovely word ‘mother’ is so sweet and so kind in itself that it cannot truly be said of anyone or to anyone except of the One and to the One who is the true Mother of life and of all things. To the property of motherhood belong nature, love, wisdom and knowledge. . . and this is God.”
As I was writing this review, I paused briefly to listen to a National Public Radio feature on prayer. One woman said, “When I pray, I imagine myself sitting on God’s lap and being enveloped — as if in a father’s arms.” Kathryn describes the same feelings of closeness to God in her songs, but she is speaking of a mother’s arms. She says her own experience of motherhood since giving birth to her daughter Lydia has given her a new appreciation of God’s motherly love.
A central purpose of Kathryn’s music is to help her listeners broaden their concept of God to include the truth of those scripture passages that speak of God as Mother. The songs on this CD fulfill that purpose admirably. They’re designed to help listeners experience God in ways that uplift tired spirits, soothe hurting souls, cheer lonely hearts, and bring comfort, calm, and hope in the midst of anxiety. As one of Kathryn’s songs, “Long Ago,” expresses it, it’s as though God is holding us close, rocking us gently, and singing us a lullaby.
Four of the 12 featured songs are based on the writings of the mystics with their emphasis on turning away from our worries and fears, resting instead in God’s loving care. Julian’s writings inspired not only the title song but also a, song based on her familiar and reassuring words, ” All shall be well.” Another song, “Set Aside Every Fear,” comes from Catherine of Siena; and Mechtild of Magdeburg’s description of the love between God and the human soul is captured in “Sacred Love.”
Seven songs come directly from Scripture passages, such as Isaiah 66:13 (“As a Mother Comforts Her Child”), Isaiah 46:3-4 (“I will Carry You”), Ruth 1:16-17 (“Song of Ruth”), a blend of John 14:6 and Matthew 11:28-30 (“The Way”), and several of the Psalms.
If I had to select a favorite, I think it would be the hauntingly beautiful “Long Ago,” a superbly crafted and deeply moving song Kathryn wrote about the yearning and love of a parent for a child long before the child is born, reminding us of God’s everlasting love for us from before we existed and forevermore.
But it’s hard to name one favorite. All of the music is meaningful and enjoyable. This CD will feed your spirit and nurture your soul. I recommend it highly.
(Note: This CD is not the same as the earlier cassette of Kathryn’s music combined with Edwina Gateley’s poetry. That tape was also called “Oh, Holy Mother” and was issued in only a limited edition at the request of listeners who were moved by Kathryn and Edwina’s joint ministry at Christian gatherings. Although that cassette is no longer available, its contents have been reissued as a CD with a new title, Growing into God, the same title as Edwina Gateley’s accompanying book of poetry. ) Click here to read about the CD and book.
© 2002 by Evangelical & Ecumenical Women’s Caucus. Originally published in the Fall (October-December) 2002 issue of EEWC Update, Volume 26, number 3.