Hersay: Songs for Healing and Empowerment

by Katie Ketchum & Jann Aldredge-Clanton
105 pages, self-published, spiral-bound

Reviewed by Katie M. Deaver, Ph. D.

 

Hersay Cover Art
Hersay Cover Art

A request from a fellow musician for Taizé chants featuring texts that include Divine Feminine imagery was the impetus for this unique new musical collection from Katie Ketchum and Jann Aldredge-Clanton. Since Taizé tunes are all under copyright, Katie and Jann worked together to create the stunning new tunes and beautiful texts that make up this volume.

In the introduction to this collection, Katie and Jann describe several reasons why short chant pieces are beneficial to people of faith and our worshipping communities. The melody and text of short tunes can be learned quickly, and can be repeated multiple times. They write, “The repetitive nature of chanting calms the mind and body, decreasing fear, anger, and depression” (p. 12). Additionally, short works lend themselves to diverse applications, including choral responses to prayers or readings.

Katie and Jann emphasize how important songs with words referencing the Divine Feminine are for participants who are children. They write, “the music embeds the words in children’s memories, shaping their beliefs in equality, justice, and peace so that their actions will be guided by these values” (p. 7).

As people of faith, we are already familiar with the ability music has to bring our own communities together, but Katie and Jann go further, to explain how “singing creates unity and builds a foundation for a peaceful and sustainable world . . . singing bridges cultural divides and connects us to all of humanity” (pp. 12–13).

The collection contains sixty short, meditative tunes and texts that work well for services or devotional time in any setting. There are three helpful indexes (Topical, Scriptural, and Title) to assist those planning around specific themes. It’s helpful that audio recordings of the songs are available on the Hersay playlist on Katie Ketchum’s YouTube channel.

As a church musician myself, I can already envision a number of ways to use this collection. I found several favorites:

This collection comes as a spiral-bound book, which I very much appreciate because it stays open so much more easily on my piano. It is a wonderful addition to any faith community’s music library (and your own, as well!). Katie Ketchum and Jann Aldredge-Clanton have done a truly stellar job providing quality short songs and chants featuring Divine Feminine language in an easy to use and teach format.

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© 2020 by Christian Feminism Today.
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Dr. Katie M. Deaver
Dr. Katie M. Deaver, earned her Ph.D. in Feminist Theology at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. Deaver holds a B.A. in Religion and Music from Luther College in Decorah, IA, as well as MATS and Th.M. degrees from the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. Her dissertation explored the connections between the Christian understanding of atonement theology and the prevalence of domestic violence in the United States. Her other areas of interest include the connection between power and violence, sexual ethics, and working toward the elimination of the oppression and exploitation of women and girls around the world.

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