"God has bestowed upon his people the gift of song. God dwells within each human person, in the place where music takes its source. Indeed, God, the giver of song, is present whenever his people sing his praises."
Welcome to the Music Ministry at St. Mary Church! If you are interested in joining the Music Ministry, please contact our Director of Music, Lynn Meisberger, at 937-746-5404 or email, [email protected] New members are most welcome, please check out the music ministry opportunities below.
The Adult Choirs sing at the 9:00 and 10:30 Sunday Morning Masses, as well as other liturgies. The rehearsals are on Monday evenings at least twice a month. The music is a mix of traditional and contemporary.
The Children's choir practices twice a month on Monday afternoons and sings at the Saturday 4:00 Mass on the first Saturday of the month. The children's choir sings at Christmas, Palm Sunday, and for May Crowning.
The Sunday Evening 6:00 Mass is for singers and musicians in the teen years. Rehearsals will be immediately before Mass at 5:30.
Cantors are needed to sing the Psalm and to lead song at Masses. Previous music training is preferred.
The Bridge is a contemporary music group that plays for all Masses,some weekends and Christmas Eve.
This choir will be on call to provide support and comfort for funerals with music. No rehearsals are required, music is often very similar for funerals.
Play an instrument? Share your gift at a Sunday Mass! We can always use instrumentalists of all ages.
The Music ministry cannot grow without your involvement. Call Lynn today and volunteer!
Lynn's Reflection on her research on Feminine Images of God - given at Mass on Sept. 15, 2013
In today's first reading, Moses brokers the relationship between God and his people. The Israelites want to satisfy their appetites for pleasure. They want to experience the joys of freedom. Naturally, God is frustrated with their actions. What more evidence of his love do they need? Why do they not appreciate what has been done for them? Can’t they see the phoniness of the molten calf? God offers Moses an opportunity to leave this wayward people to their own desires and establish for him a new and greater nation of people. Putting aside any personal gain or glory, Moses demonstrates his devotion to God and the people. He speaks on behalf of the people who belong to God and intercedes on their behalf. Like the father, the shepherd and the woman in Jesus’ parables in the Gospel, Moses ventures out to bring back what has been lost. It is more than just seeking or offering forgiveness. Moses and the father of the prodigal son don’t stand and wait for something to happen. They make it happen. In each case there is an active participation to reunite. To be able to forgive, we must be willing to sweep the house, search the field and move down the road to recover what has been lost. In our celebration of the Eucharist we move forward to unite ourselves with Christ. We share in his life and in his power to embrace the sinner and eliminate the tensions that divide us. Yes, we know the prodigal son and the brother. We have lived in the shadow of brothers; the question is, can we live in spirit of the father?
Now that I have spoken about the readings, let me speak a little about my research paper! My work on my master’s degree at St. Joseph’s college began 4 years ago. Over a year ago, I was to turn in a proposal for a research paper on a subject in liturgy and/or music, and then write a 30-50 page paper in the next year. I was nervous about writing that much and I had no idea what to write about! A fellow student at St. Joe’s suggested that I look at the writings of St. Hildegard of Bingen. I started to read some of her work, and in no time I was hooked. The thing that amazed me was that this medieval woman, writer, musician, leader of her own community, and Doctor of the church, would have fit into these modern times very well.
St. Hildegard was born in 1098 in Germany. She was born to a rich family and entered a Benedictine monastery at a young age. From the time she was young she had visions, which experts now say may have been from migraine headaches. Hildegard became the head of the women at the monastery, and later moved the women to her own Abbey after she became increasingly resentful of the financial and spiritual control of the monks. St. Hildegard wrote to Bernard of Clairveaux (later also a saint) of her visions, and he encouraged her to write down an account of her visions. Her first book, Scivias was presented at the Council of Trier of 1148. The Pope was impressed by her writings and encouraged her to publish the book. All the bishops from the council took her book back to all their Sees and all of Europe became aware of St. Hildegard. The pope then granted her sanctions to preach her visions, and she toured well into her 60’s. She lived well into her 80’s.
Hildegard was a naturalist, she believed that diet and exercise encouraged spiritual health as well as physical. She wrote 2 medical books, Causes and cures, and Physica.
H was an accomplished musician. She wrote more monophonic music (melody line only) than any composer of her time, and she was the first composer to copy and preserve her music.
In H. writings and music, she visions God as sometimes feminine, particularly when speaking of creation, as God gives birth to the world.
Traditional theology has maintained throughout history that God is not a human, male or female. The divine has no gender. However, the universally accepted image of God has been God the Father. The concept of God in the feminine form was not a new idea at the time; in fact, there are several references to God having feminine aspects in the scriptures.
The Old Testament has begins with Genesis, 1:27 “God created man in his image, in the divine image he created them; male and female he created them.” Isaiah 42:14, “I have looked away, and kept silence, I have said nothing, holding myself in; But now, I cry out as a woman in labor, gasping and panting.” And many other references.
Since I did not want to write a book report on St. Hildegard, I began researching other mystics and writers who used feminine images of the divine, and to look at hymn texts. Early Christians such as Clement of Alexandria and John Chrysostom depict Christ as a mother nursing her child. Augustine of Hippo, Thomas Aquinas and Albert the Great were drawn to the image of God as a Mother Hen in their writings. In the 14th century, Julian of Norwich developed a theology of God as a loving merciful Mother. St, Francis of Assisi believed that God is Father and Mother, in his creation centered theology. The twentieth century monk, Thomas Merton wrote that God is not only father, but also Mother. There are many hymn text writers currently writing liturgical music using feminine images of God.
I was very fortunate to correspond with a prolific hymn writer, Mary Louise Bringle. Her hymns often vision God as mother, and St. Hildegard has a fond place in her heart as she has been inspired by her. Bringle wrote to me and said,
“I would have to say that OF COURSE having feminine images for God in addition to the masculine helps us to understand God more fully. How could any single set of attributes ever come close to conveying the magnitude of the one who made us "male and female" in God's image, and whose reality both encompasses and surpasses all that we are or could be?” Bringle also goes on to say, that we must remember that imagery in Texts are only metaphors, we can in no way say what God is or is not, only what he is LIKE. Finally she says, “In sum, I think the more richness of imagery we have in our hymn texts, the more people we have the chance of reaching and touching (and teaching), and the more exuberantly we can praise the One who is ultimately beyond all naming. And, after all, isn't that what hymns are for?”
I have many quotes from theologians in the 20th and 21st centuries supporting the use of feminine imagery, which I will not go into! At this point of the paper, I had to ask, “So what?” Why does this matter to anyone other than me? I got to thinking that the image of a fatherly God may not be comforting for all people. Those who have been neglected, abused or abandoned by a father would more likely be comforted by the image of a gentle, mothering Deity. God is not masculine with a feminine side, and not all feminine traits are mothering. God is unknowable. Thomas Aquinas said that we know that God is, not what God is. Every word, image, concept, or analogy is limited. A variety of images are needed for God, no one image expresses God in total. Being able to sing the words of a God who is like women is important in bringing women closer to God. Mother Teresa wrote in an address to the World Conference of Women, “But why did
God make some of us men and some of us women? Because a woman’s love is one image of God, and a man’s love is another image of God’s love. Both are created to love, but each in a different way. Women and men complete each other and together show forth God’s love more fully than either can do it alone.”
Naming God in female images promotes conversion of a community's mind and heart to the true equality of women. When we use feminine images for God, we unravel one tiny fragment of the mystery of God, the Father, God the Mother, God the Creator.