This Is Our Song Women's Hymn-Writing

Article excerpt

This is our song Women^s hymn-writing by Janet Wootton. London: Ep worth, 2010. 380 pp., ISBN 978-0-7162-0655-2. US $50.00.

Janet Wootton - minister, theologian, textwriter, hymnal compiler, scholar, fifteen -year editor of the journal Worship live, and woman of inimitable wit and spirit - brings perfectly-matched gifts to this study of historical and contemporary hymn writing by women. Having initially learned of this project when I met Wootton at the joint gathering of the IAH, HSGBI, and HSUSC in Poland in the summer of 2009, just as the manuscript was nearing completion, I am delighted to see in print what I first excitedly heard about in person.

The book's first 230 pages cover a broad sweep of women's hymnwriting from early Christianity through the twentieth- century hymn explosion. Primary source research is amply documented with notes and nearly twenty pages of bibliography. The last hundred pages bring the volume into the present. Here, Wootton shifts from author to editor, presenting the stories of ten living women writers, compiled from interviews and personal correspondence. Some of these writers might be better known in Great Britain than in the US and Canada, though with notable exceptions. Individuals interviewed for the book include Marian Colli - hole, Marjorie Dobson, Kathy Galloway, Sue Gilmurray, Betty Carr Pulkingham, Cecily Taylor, June Boyce-Tillman, Elizabeth Cosnett, Ruth Duck, and Shirley Erena Murray. All stories are engagingly narrated in the first person. Each author quotes generously from her own texts and provides illuminating commentary.

While these first-person narratives provide valuable accounts of the lives and works of the included women, I found the historical materials to be even more intriguing. Admittedly, I was dubious early in the first chapter, since women like Perpetua, Paula, and Macrina stand as important historical figures but can scarcely be counted as ¿Typewriters. …