26 April 2024

Songs of praise for women’s ordination

A upcoming concert will celebrate women’s ordination in Melbourne. Picture: file

Daniel Brace 

18 February 2024

In 1992, the General Synod of the Australian Anglican Church finally passed legislation for women priests, after many years of advocacy and campaigning. Across Australia 90 women were ordained priest by the year’s end.  

Since 1992, the church hasn’t look back, welcoming many women called by God to serve in priestly ministry. 

Many photographs, articles, conference papers and legislation from the struggle survive. But what of the songs and music?  

Read more: Women’s ordination champions to celebrate 40 years of activism

Specific songs can trigger powerful memories and emotions, so when putting together a concert of hymns and songs from this important time in the history of our church it’s not surprising to learn that the women involved are looking forward to hearing them again, albeit in a different context and time.  

For one leader in the struggle for women priests, Dr Muriel Porter, it’s about Psalm 126. “Whenever I sing the Chris Willcock setting of that psalm, with its reference to faithful people sowing seed in tears but coming back carrying the sheaves rejoicing, I remember with gratitude the faithful women deacons who carried on with their ministry despite the long, sad wait for their priestly calling to be vindicated,” she said.   

Read more: Women must be supported to withstand barriers to God’s call: Leaders

Songs of praise, songs of victory, presented by the choir of St Oswald’s Glen Iris (and friends!), contains works written by Elizabeth J Smith, Peta Sherlock and other women whose works are unattributed. Thanks to Fay Magee for access to her collection of songs and notes. The Reverend Kathryn Bellhouse, associate priest at St Peter’s, Eastern Hill, will be speaking.  

The concert will take place at St Oswald’s on Saturday, 16 March at 2pm. Tickets are $15/10 with all proceeds going to the St Oswald’s Music Fund.  

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