©2018 by Katy Wehr/Wehrhouse Music. Proudly created with Wix.com

Photography by Angela Dimler

 

Christ's mother. His aunt. His followers. Women He taught and healed.


Katy Wehr gives Gospel women a voice: those who followed and cared for Jesus, or a notorious woman held up as an example, or the one to whom He first revealed the mystery of being "the Resurrection and the Life." 

With the help of gifted musicians Spencer Capier, Miles Foxx Hill and Calum Rees, Katy brings these stories to life with vibrancy and pure melodic vocals.

 
 
 

LYRICS FOR AND ALL THE MARYS

All Songs ©2018 Katy Wehr/Wehrhouse Music

The Virgin, Spinning

The Virgin Mary ponders the Annunciation (Luke 1:26-38) while spinning wool, a detail borrowed from the 2nd century retelling in the Protoevangelium of James, which has also influenced icons and art of the Annunciation ever since.


I’m spinning the scarlet and purple - woman’s work            

But God is spinning the gold, I see

Weaving a tiny thread like me

Into the grand design to be

The saving of the world.

Chosen as the roving fibre – clean and combed    

Then dropped and spun and quickly wound

Upon the spindle tightly bound

To serve the One I’m wound around:

The Saviour of the world.

Son of the Most High – let it be, let it be

Son of God – let it be, let it be to me  

In the hands of the Master I marvel at his ways

He brings me into his weaving room

My heart is stretched upon the loom

The God-Man knitted within my womb

The Saviour of the World

First to hear, first to hear and believe

First to love, first to love and receive

the Son of God

Will they believe me?  I wonder, who can say? 

But I will always answer yes

Though a sword may pierce my breast

The Father of my Son knows best

The Saviour of the World


Elizabeth

Words based on Luke 1:39-45

Perhaps Elizabeth’s prophetic vision included a glimpse of the fulfilment of all prophecies of the restored Kingdom and her son’s role in it?

A calling voice, an opened door

The Good News preached to all the poor

A heart of flesh from heart of stone

An exile returning to her home

And righteousness that blooms within the Garden of the Lord

Oh, John, my son, you’ll see the Kingdom come

 My cousin Mary, full of grace

A look of wonder on her face

My child leaps, the Spirit cries

And I am moved to prophesy:

Oh, who am I that I should host the mother of my Lord?

Oh, John, my son you’ll see the Kingdom come

When Mary told us of the way

The Angel Gabriel came that day

I saw all heaven leaning in

I heard a song of hope begin

For blessed is the one who trusts the promise of the Lord

Oh, John, my son you’ll see the Kingdom come

A prophet stands on Jordan’s edge

Calling all to Come repent,

Be baptised, confess your sins

Clean your heart and soul within.

Then suddenly the Lord appears; the day is now at hand

Oh, John, my son you’ll see the Kingdom come


The Prophetess Anna

Words: Psalm 84 – English Standard Version (ESV)

We have no direct words of Anna in Luke 2:36-38, yet we know that she was very old and lived continuously in the Temple.  She recognized Jesus as the Redeemer, gave thanks to God and spoke about him to all.  Perhaps she praised God with this Psalm, seeing Mary and Joseph like the swallows laying their young at God’s altar, recognizing that the Anointed One had rightly come into His Temple.


How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD of hosts!

My soul longs, yea, faints for the courts of the LORD;

my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God.

Even the sparrow finds a home,

and the swallow a nest for herself,

where she may lay her young at your altars,

O LORD of hosts, my King and my God.

Blessed are those who dwell in your house,

Ever singing your praise!

Blessed are those whose strength is in you,

in whose heart are the highways to Zion.

As they go through the Valley of Baca they make it a place of springs;

the early rain also covers it with pools.

They go from strength to strength;

each one appears before God in Zion.

O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer;

give ear, O God of Jacob

Behold our shield, O God;

look on the face of your anointed!

For a day in your courts is better

than a thousand elsewhere.

I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God

than dwell in the tents of wickedness.

For the LORD God is a sun and shield;

the LORD bestows favor and honor.

No good thing does he withhold

from those who walk uprightly.

O LORD of hosts,

blessed is the one who trusts in you!


Lullaby for the Flight into Egypt-Instrumental

After being welcomed into His Temple, our Lord’s family flees Herod’s wrath by escaping into Egypt (Matthew 2:13-15).  Here a lullaby tune is given to the Virgin Mary that is the same as when the women will later prepare the spices for Christ’s burial.


The Samaritan Woman

Words based on John 4, Psalm 85:13 and Isaiah 55:6-7

It seems highly unlikely that a woman with six men in her past has had trusting relationships. Here, her past is imagined, weaving her words in John 4:25 into a song learned from her mother. Our Lord’s pure gaze convinces her of the truth. She is called Photina (“the enlightened one”) by Eastern Tradition and is celebrated as a Missionary from Samaria to Carthage where she was martyred.


Men are confusing, my mother had said

Their lies will outnumber the hairs on your head.

They’ll love if you’re useful, and hit you if they please

Beware, when they stay or whether they leave

But Mother had died when I was thirteen

I was a widow myself by just seventeen

With one babe in arms, and one on the way

All I had left was the old song that she sang

When Messiah comes, he will heal all things

When Messiah comes, he’ll explain all things

And the words will flow from his mouth like a spring in the desert

Then the Lord will give our land a harvest of peace

If our goodness lays the path, path for his feet

How could I even afford to be good?

Mourning won’t pay but another man would.

His strong arms around me, his breath on my neck

Whispering lies that he’ll stay, stay for my sake.

 But I’ve kept all my wits though I’m caught and bound

To five more men who have come around

Take a deep breath, cruel words break no bones,

And I sing as I carry my jar to the well all alone

When Messiah comes, he will heal all things

When Messiah comes, he’ll explain all things

And the words will flow from his mouth like a spring in the desert

Seek the Lord and call on him while he is near

And return to the Lord for pardon while he is here

 So who is this man with the innocent eyes?

Who asks me for a drink but offers me Living Water?

Neither here nor there but in Spirit and Truth, he says,

the Father seeks his sons and daughters.

Run, tell. Run, tell.

He told me everything I’ve ever done   

Come and see, could he, he be the one?


Woman with a Haemorrhage

Words based on Mark 5:24-34, Luke 8:43-48, Psalm 46:4, Psalm 122:4

Christ restores both this woman’s health and her connection to her community, thus her story is imagined in terms of two contrasting forces within her: Hope and Shame.  Being healed also meant she could now enter the women’s court of the Temple, thus symbolizing her full restoration to God’s people.

I’ve got two rivers in me:

One is Hope, like a desert spring,

but Shame is like the Dead Sea

Its bitter salt dries out my longing

These two rivers in me

Mingle with a stream of blood

That washes out my dignity:

And keeps me from the House of God

Hope says keep trying

One more doctor, one more cure but

Shame says, give up,    

They’ll never find, a way to heal a soul

damaged like mine.

And these two rivers in me

Flow swiftly as I see him come

Unclean, but hands out-stretched      

Through the crowd I run,

If I could just touch the hem of his robe

If I could just touch it so no one knows

If I could just touch the hem of his robe

If I could just touch it so no one knows

And I slip in behind him

Shame says I will fail again, but

Hope is rewarded when I’m healed within.  

(But He says) Who touched the hem of my robe?

I felt the touch, I felt the power go.

Who touched the hem of my robe?

Speak up, so everybody knows.’

And these two rivers in me

freeze suddenly right there in fear

I throw myself down at his feet                     

And I say through tears:

I touched the hem of your robe.

I hid in shame for fear someone would know

Yes, I touched the hem of your robe.

A single touch has stopped the bleeding’s flow.

He smiles down at me

and says for everyone to hear

My Daughter, you are free

Your faith has healed you, go in peace.

I look around and

people stare in disbelief, but

Then through the crowd my sister comes,

grabs hold of me, and I weep aloud

There is a river whose streams

Make glad the city of our God

That is where we all go up,                

To the temple courts.


The Canaanite Woman and Blind Bartimaeus

Matthew 15:22,28 & Mark 10:47,51-52

In New Testament Greek

This song began as a comparison of the strikingly similar Greek words of The Canaanite Woman and Blind Bartimaeus (forgive the inclusion of a man in this series!).  This woman was Greek (See Mark 7:26) and since Jesus undoubtedly spoke Greek as well as Aramaic, I found it exciting that their exchange is probably untranslated.  Kyrie Eleison – Lord, have mercy – is still one of the most common Christian prayers and here it is made personal: Have mercy on ME, Lord.


ἐλέησόν με Have mercy on me

ἐλέησόν με, κύριε Have mercy on me, Lord

ἐλέησόν με, κύριε Have mercy on me, Lord

υἱὸς Δαυίδ Son of David

υἱὸς Δαυίδ, κύριε Son of David, Lord

ἐλέησόν με, κύριε Have mercy on me, Lord

ἡ θυγάτηρ μου The daughter of me

κακῶς δαιμονίζεται. Is badly demon-possessed

ἐλέησόν με, κύριε, Have mercy on me, Lord

υἱὸς Δαυίδ· Son of David

καὶ ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν, ὦ γύναι, And Jesus said, Oh Woman,

μεγάλη σου ἡ πίστις· Great is your faith

γενηθήτω σοι ὡς θέλεις. Let it be done for you as you desire

καὶ εὐθὺς ἰάθη ἡ θυγάτηρ αὐτῆς. And immediately her daughter was healed

ἐλέησόν με Have mercy on me

ἐλέησόν με, Ἰησοῦ Have mercy on me, Jesus

ἐλέησόν με, Ἰησοῦ Have mercy on me, Jesus

υἱὲ Δαυίδ Son of David

υἱὲ Δαυίδ, Ἰησοῦ Son of David, Jesus

ἐλέησόν με, Ἰησοῦ Have mercy on me, Jesus

Ραββουνι, Rabbi

ἵνα ἀναβλέψω. That I might see

ἐλέησόν με, Ἰησοῦ, Have mercy on me, Jesus

υἱὲ Δαυίδ· Son of David

καὶ ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν, ὦ τὐφλε, And Jesus said to him, O blind one,

ὕπαγε, ἡ πίστις σου, Go, your faith

σέσωκέν σε. Has saved you

καὶ εὐθὺς ἀνέβλεψεν. And immediately he saw again.



Martha Believes and Sees

Words based on John 11:1-3, 17-44

The opening lines are repeated by both Martha and Mary in John 11 but it is only Martha to whom Our Lord reveals such an amazing truth: that HE is the Resurrection and the Life. Along with the raising of Lazarus, Martha’s memory is also healed, by Christ walking her back through the whole experience and bringing about a different ending.


Oh Lord, if you had been here

Oh Lord, if you had been here

Oh Lord, then my brother would not have died

We sent word to you as soon as we could

I know to come was risky

But we prayed you’d find a way to come back

And do something miraculous

And heal my brother, Lazarus

But even now I know whatever you ask

My God will give you

You say to me Your brother will rise

I know that he will rise

In the resurrection at the end of time.

I am the Resurrection and the Life

He who believes in me, even if he dies, will live

And the one who lives and believes in me will never die 

Martha, do you believe this? 

Yes, Lord, you’re the Messiah

Oh, Lord, you are the Son of God

The one, who’s coming into the world

Come and see the place where he is laid

Though the stench is strong

You say believe and see the glory of God

And your prayer leaves us speechless

You call forth my brother, Lazarus.


Mary of Bethany and the Sinful Woman

Words based on: Matthew 26:5-13/Mark 14:3-9/John 12:1-8 & Luke 7:36-50

The two verses of this song cover what appear to be two separate events.  Matthew, Mark and John place Mary of Bethany’s anointing of Jesus just before Holy Week, whereas Luke 7’s early account gives a completely different moral to the story.  Even so, John and Luke share a number of features, including the wiping of his feet with her hair. So, I have focused on Matthew and Mark for verse 1 (but couldn’t lose John's detail of the smell of perfume!) and Luke for verse 2.


A woman came to Jesus

With an alabaster jar of perfume

She broke the seal and opened it

The smell of perfume filled the room

She poured it out on his head

Flowing down his hair and beard

She poured her oil on his head

Without words she gave love instead

The Disciples were indignant,

accusing her of a shameful waste:

She could have sold it and given

The poor the sum of a whole year’s wage!

But don’t bother her, what she’s doing is beautiful (Jesus said)

What she’s doing now prepares for my burial

Don’t bother her, what she’s doing is beautiful

When the Gospel is preached, they’ll say it’s a marvel

Perhaps they all remembered

Another woman and other perfume

Notorious, a sinner

Who came to Simon’s dining room

She wept and kissed Jesus’ feet

And wiped them with her long dark hair

She poured it out on his feet

Where thankfulness and mercy meet

And Simon was indignant

If you’re a prophet, surely you know,

This woman here is a sinner;

Her evil deeds can’t help but show.

But she has been forgiven more, so loves more (Jesus said)

With more warmth than you showed me at your door

She has been forgiven more, so loves more

Woman, your faith has saved you, go in peace now


Salome’s Request

Words based on: Mt 20:20-23, 27:55-56

Christ’s disciples were expecting an earthly, political Kingdom and so I tried to evoke kingship by a Medieval courtly dance and used a ballad form where an internal line gets added every verse.  Since Salome was also at the foot of the Cross, I imagined her being bewildered and stretched in her expectations. The poetic turn of the song is borrowed from Dorothy L. Sayers’ The Man Born to be King where the request is made by John (see Mark 10:35-40) who later stands at the foot of the Cross and says, “we refused the cup and the baptism, not knowing what we asked, and the places on your right hand and on your left hand have been given to these two thieves.”


On the way to Jerusalem, my Lord,

On the way to Jerusalem

When you are King, let me ask one thing

When we all see your Kingdom come, my Lord,

When we all see your Kingdom come.

When we get to Jerusalem, my Lord,

When we get to Jerusalem

When you are King and you’re on your throne

Promise this to me that my two sons

Shall sit on you right and your left, my Lord,

Shall sit on you right and left.

When we get to Jerusalem, said he

When we get to Jerusalem,

When I am King and I mount my throne

I will share my cup with James and John

But my right and left will only belong

To the ones chosen long ago, dear one,

To the ones chosen long ago.

Not a week in Jerusalem, my Lord,

Not a week in Jerusalem

Hosanna to King David’s Son

We could feel your Kingdom almost come

As cheers rang through the city walls

But the priests and scribes look on, appalled

And they scheme to steal your crown, O Lord

And they scheme to steal your crown

Outside of Jerusalem, my Lord,

Outside of Jerusalem

The crowd is shouting Crucify!

And Your throne is now a cross on high

Your crown of thorns and wounds that bleed

How could this be what your Kingdom means,

With the place of honour given to thieves?

Who hang on your right and your left, O Lord

Who hang on your right and left.


The Women Prepare the Spices

Words based on Song of Songs 8: 6-7, 13-14 (adapted)

I imagined the scene of Luke 23:56 where the women prepare the spices for Christ’s burial.  I saw them working together, finding an outlet for their shared grief in a song, accompanied by the scrape and pounding of the mortar and pestle and tearing of the strips of cloth for the grave bands.


O set me as a seal upon thy heart

O set me as a seal upon thine arm

For love is strong, strong as death, my love,

And jealousy is cruel as the grave.

 Its flashes are the living flame of a blazing fire

That cannot be drowned out in a flood

All earthly gold in exchange for love

Would be utterly contemptible and scorned

Come, my Love, let me hear your voice

My companions and I wait in the garden

Make haste, my love, and shine out like the rising sun

Like a stag appearing on the mountain.


Mary Magdalene

Words based on: Luke 8:2, John 20:1-18

Mary Magdalene is called the Apostle to the Apostles- she was the first to see the Risen Christ and bring news of the Resurrection to the others.  Luke tells us that she was healed of seven demons and was one of the women who travelled with Jesus and supported the whole group out of their own means. I try to imagine what that was like – the faithfulness of these women was amazing!

Through the dark of my mind

Fettered and bound by seven demons

Through the dark came His voice

That cut through my chains by calling my name

Mary Magdalene

You are set free, now come follow me

Mary  Magdalene, You are set free-----

So I joined with the women who followed Him

Starting in Galilee and on to Jerusalem

We cared for His needs

Saw His great healings, heard His best stories

Waved palms in Hosanna

Saw him clear the Temple, cooked His Last Supper

Overheard from the stairs ‘bout the bread and wine,

His Body and Blood - His time had come.

And all the men ran away but, somehow, we remained

To see Him carry His Cross

We stood at a distance as they nailed Him up

We couldn’t help in our usual ways

But at least we made sure He was not alone that day

We heard his cry, saw His last breath

Felt the earth shake and the sky turned dark

And all of creation wept with us as they lowered His Body down

Our Lord, Our Lord, Our Lord, etc

In the dark of the garden

Weeping in fear, my Lord’s body gone!

Unaware of the angels

Then I hear the voice that healed my soul

Mary! Rabboni!

I have risen! Now you’re truly free!

Mary Magdalene, tell your brothers go to Galilee

So I ran to find his disciples 

And even if they doubt me I know it’s true

Our Lord, Our Lord, Our Lord is risen, etc.

 

"Perhaps it is no wonder that the women were first at the Cradle and last at the Cross. They had never known a man like this man...a prophet and teacher who never nagged at them, never flattered or coaxed or patronised...who took their questions and arguments seriously...who never urged them to be more feminine or jeered at them for being female; who had no axe to grind and no uneasy male dignity to defend; who took them as he found them and was completely unself-conscious.  There is no act, no sermon, no parable in the whole Gospel that borrows its pungency from female perversity; nobody could possibly guess from the words and deeds of Jesus that there was anything 'funny' about woman's nature."

Dorothy L. Sayers, Essay "The Human-Not-Quite-Human," Unpopular Opinions, 1946