On the Cover

Trees Immersed in Pattern, fine art glass, painting and photography on metal, by Tracy Ellyn, artist and founder/director of The Zen Tov Project.

Tracy Ellyn, an internationally known Miami-based artist, is deeply interested in healing traditions. She frequently uses colors, patterns and textures to bring together “holistic experiences.” Many of her works are displayed in hospitals and health care centers. She is also the creator of the Stephen Sotloff memorial.

Ellyn is the Founder and Director of The Zen Tov Project, which she began in 1996. Its mission is to promote healing through the arts and through arts education. Ellyn “is fluent in the effects that the arts can have in a variety of healing settings, and channels her desire for tikkun olam through The Zen Tov Project.” (From the project’s website.)

Recommended Citation: Ferrone, Rita (2019): “On the Cover,” The Yale ISM Review: Vol. 5: No. 1, Article 2. Available at http://ismreview.yale.edu

In This Issue

The world is a place of suffering. And no one can live long without being touched by suffering in some way, whether that suffering is physical, emotional, or spiritual. Every one of us carries wounds.

Yet, in a powerful way, prayer and worship, music and the arts, can touch our wounded souls and bodies, releasing the power to heal. This issue of The Yale ISM Review is devoted to exploring various aspects of this reality.

We are pleased to feature, as our cover art, Tracy Ellyn’s “Trees Immersed in Pattern.” Ellyn is the founder and director of the Zen Tov project, whose mission is to promote healing through the arts.

The articles in this issue fall roughly into three sections.

A particular realization that has gained prominence in our time is that the earth itself is wounded, due to reckless human exploitation of natural resources. In our first section, ecofeminist literary scholar Karen Kilcup, and Dorothy Bass, an expert in congregational life, reflect on the healing of creation. From their different vantage points, they both observe that healing our relationship to the created world around us is an essential step in renewing the face of the earth. Poetry can help. So can the learned skills of honoring creation within faith communities.

In our second section, art historian Lee Jefferson takes us on a journey through ancient Christian art to discover how Jesus was portrayed as a healer, and why this was important. His essay leaves us at the doors of the church of Santa Sabina in Rome, gazing at the staff of healing being passed from Jesus to his disciples, with the tantalizing implication that the charism of healing has been passed on from the Master to the church.

Liturgical historian Lizette Larson-Miller then picks up the ecclesial theme through her insightful overview of the development and meaning of the Sacrament of the Sick, from its scriptural roots to its essential elements in practice today. Anointing, prayer, and the laying on of hands hold a privileged place in the church’s exercise of a sacramental ministry of healing.

Poet, pastor, and liturgical theologian Jill Crainshaw reflects with us on the healing of our sacramental and dialectical imaginations, “dancing with skeletons in unlikely ballrooms” in order to help us imagine anew the life-giving mystery of God-with-us.

The section closes with a perceptive analysis by liturgical theologian and musician Judith Kubicki concerning the singing of hymns, a performative act that binds communities together, overcoming the wounds of social fragmentation and transforming disparate individuals into one body. This essay is adapted from the plenary address she gave to the National Association of Pastoral Musicians on the occasion of receiving the Jubilate Deo award, their highest honor, for her contributions to pastoral liturgy.

Our third section takes us to places where artists, musicians, and liturgists may rightly be considered bridge-builders and cultural translators within a broken world. No more “drive-by Beethoven,” violinist and social justice advocate Vijay Gupta explains, as he tells the remarkable and deeply human story of how he founded Street Symphony in Los Angeles, and how his encounter with the community at Skid Row changed him.

Healthcare chaplain Kathleen LaCamera challenges us to think hard about what sort of human experiences may be excluded or overlooked when we stay within the confines of established patterns of language and prayer within liturgy. She invites us to acknowledge the real when we gather in “hard times” to honor a life, a death, or a moment of passage.

Finally, liturgical anthropologist Rebecca Spurrier raises critical questions about what we are praying for when we pray for someone’s healing, as she shares what her sustained involvement with a community of persons with disabilities taught her about ableism and the authentic desire for wholeness.

Our last feature, “One Final Note,” engages the theme of our issue from a different vantage point, opening up new insights. In this issue, physician and ethicist Lydia Dugdale confronts us with what is perhaps the most challenging question of all: What constitutes a good death? With help from the ars moriendi and the writings of Michael Ignatieff, she offers a thought-provoking answer.

— Rita Ferrone, editor


Recommended Citation: Ferrone, Rita (2019): “In This Issue,” The Yale ISM Review: Vol. 5: No. 1, Article 1. Available at http://ismreview.yale.edu

In This Issue

Our issue on the Beatitudes begins with two articles that consider the Beatitudes as a whole. Peter Hawkins surveys Dante’s brilliant vision of the Beatitudes from the Mountain of Purgatory, and Christopher Irvine explores the embodied reality of blessedness through a reflection on Antony Gormley’s works of sculpture.

In the second section of this issue, our contributors draw attention to each of the Beatitudes, one by one. Cathy George reflects on poverty of spirit and the faith of children, drawing on her experiences of their prayers in the children’s Liturgy of the Word. Swee Hong Lim then takes us to the Global South to show that we have much to learn from believers who create sacred music in some of the poorest parts of the world.

In reflecting on “blessed are they who mourn,” Tom Long invites us into a deeper appreciation of the difference between grief and mourning, and gives us a profound context for understanding the Christian funeral. Teresa Berger then describes a new practice of creating a space for mourning, which turns our attention to contemporary experiences of displacement known to migrants and refugees.

Michelle Lewis asks how blessings of animals and the cultivation of community gardens can help to put us in touch with the meekness of nature itself and thus enable us to share more deeply in the inheritance of the earth that God promises.

To help us better understand the beatitude “blessed are they who hunger and thirst for justice,” we have reprinted a seminal address on “Preaching the Just Word” by the eminent scholar and preacher, Walter J. Burghardt, SJ (d. 2008). He later developed this theme for the Beecher Lectures at Yale Divinity School. Those lectures were subsequently expanded into a book, published by Yale University Press. It is worth noting that “Preaching the Just Word” also became the title of a series of seminars which he conducted across the United States for more than twenty years. It all started with this text, which we  share with the kind permission of the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus.

Next, Paul Inwood recounts his extraordinary experience of composing the hymn for the Year of Mercy in 2015. Be sure not only to read this fascinating account, but also to note the video recordings (one in Slovak, and one in Arabic) which show the hymn being performed variously in different parts of the world.

Purity of heart is an essential theme in the story told by Hyuk Seonwoo, whose Korean Methodist congregation has come to treasure the celebration of weekly Communion. Read “Sacramental Jars of Clay” to see how the celebration of Eucharist has invited personal transformation and supported this community’s sense of mission.

The work of transformation is also important to Benjamin Bergey’s essay on building peace through music. Conflict transformation, an outcome of the patient work of building peace at the grassroots level, can be fostered in concrete ways through music. The author shows us how.

Cheryl Cornish’s essay on “blessed are those who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness” does not let us off the hook of ambiguity in assessing the difference between righteousness and self-righteous behavior. The key—revealed poignantly at a moment in worship—is the cross.

Our closing feature, “One Final Note,” is an extract from a book-length poem entitled Beatitudes. This work has been called “a postmodern Sermon on the Mount.” In it, the Canadian poet, Herménégilde Chiasson, describes a longing for heaven in a wide range of everyday moments—interwoven with aches, doubts, tedium, and hope. Both a cry and a prayer, Beatitudes is an unfinished litany.

Rita Ferrone, editor

November 28, 2018

On the Cover: The Beatitudes, Illuminated

The cover of this issue offers a detail from the page of The Saint John’s Bible on which the Beatitudes according to Saint Matthew are illuminated. The detail is taken from the “fractured blesseds” on the right hand side. The full image is reproduced here, below, along with the text. Some information about The Saint John’s Bible in general and this page in particular can also be found below.


©Beatitudes, Thomas Ingmire, 2002, The Saint John’s Bible, Saint John’s University, Collegeville, Minnesota, USA.  Used with permission. All rights reserved.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.

Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

(Matthew 5:3–12, NRSV)


About The Saint John’s Bible

The Saint John’s Bible, commissioned by St. John’s Abbey in Collegeville Minnesota in 1995, is the first completely handwritten and hand illuminated manuscript of the Bible commissioned by a Benedictine Abbey since the invention of the printing press. The Bible, written on vellum, measures two feet tall by three feet wide when open. There are seven volumes, containing a total of 160 illuminations.

The work, produced by several artists and calligraphers, was overseen and carried out by master calligrapher Donald Jackson, in Wales. It was advised by a theological Committee on Illumination and Text. Michael Patella OSB, chair of this committee, commented: “The illuminations are not illustrations. They are spiritual meditations on a text.”

About this Page

The website of The Saint John’s Bible describes this particular page as follows:

. . . Artist Thomas Ingmire gives special attention to the Beatitudes, writing them with a style and movement that allows the words to become the art itself. The color and electricity of the page catches the eye; however, it is always the text and its challenging meaning that reaches us.

You see two sides in this special treatment. The right side is a repetitive, jagged, and colorful treatment of the word blessed. The letters are scattered randomly in a multicolored pattern, here and there coming together to form the word. The overall effect recalls mosaic decoration, a traditional artistic medium dating to the pre-classical times in the Near East. It was widely used in early Christian churches for both decorations and narrative scenes. It also reminds many people of the glass windows in Saint John’s Abbey Church.

Although readers notice the gold lettering first, with closer observation they discover fractured blesseds on the right side. Together they express Jesus’ rich teaching in the Beatitudes.

In This Issue

“Poverty, in the sense of simplicity and freedom from the desire for material wealth, is an ancient virtue and a requirement for the religious life. Poverty, in the sense of deprivation and a depth of suffering inflicted on individuals and vast groups by the negligence and malice of those in positions of abusive power, however, is not to be confused with the understanding of poverty as freedom and simplicity. One form of poverty liberates. The other crushes.”

This observation of Ayla Lepine, in her discussion of church architecture and poverty, sets out one of the tensions discussed in this issue of The Yale ISM Review. To consider poverty, one must acknowledge deep and often complex conditions that cause real human suffering. Yet even in the midst of such conditions, it is possible to discover glimmers of the divine presence. Music, worship, and the arts have the potential to mediate and deepen such discoveries.

Our first three articles arise within specific contexts in the United States. Sara Miles shares her perspective on the Eucharist in connection with her experience of feeding the hungry at her parish in San Francisco. Patrick Jordan writes about Dorothy Day and how liturgical prayer was formative in her life and in the Catholic Worker movement that she co-founded in New York. Ron Jenkins describes what happened to inmates in a Connecticut prison when they read and explored Dante’s Divine Comedy in poetry and drama.

Our next two contributions hail from Central America. Spencer Reece’s translation of a poem (“Los Pobres”) by acclaimed Honduran poet Roberto Sosa, offers us haunting verbal images of life and death among the poor. Carlota Duarte’s reflection on the Chiapas Photography Project, which she began in 1992, introduces us to the hardships as well as the beauty of that region of Mexico. Her article is accompanied by a series of stunning photographic images from the project, whose goals of justice and empowerment reach beyond the art itself.

Faith invites us to step into a new world where the poor, as much as the rich, are valued and respected—as the reign of God requires. We therefore have included four articles that concern how Christians at worship celebrate the reign of God in ways that challenge us concerning poverty.

  • Hymn writer Adam Tice wrestles with provocative questions about what believers at worship might sing, and to whom our hymn texts are addressed. Are we to sing “blessed are the poor” while omitting “woe to you who are rich”?
  • Theologian Don Saliers draws our attention to the psalms, and discusses how they reveal a divine preference for the poor. The psalms stand as a powerful witness to this preference. How do we hear their message in cries of desolation and lament?
  • Ayla Lepine takes us on a tour of several church structures located at crossroads of human need, each revealing a different synthesis of architecture, poverty, and the call to holiness. What sort of story does a chapel made with scrap wood and duct tape by migrants at Calais have to tell?
  • Finally, Ruth Myers looks at ways that clothing in worship has played a role through the ages in crafting symbolic structures of meaning in communities of faith. From baptismal garments to clerical vesture, how might our decisions about what to wear in worship relate to the church’s mission?

In “One Final Note,” Helen Rhee then changes the direction of our theme by looking not at poverty but at wealth—specifically the role that wealth played in the transformation of early Christian worship. There are moral tensions here, which church theologians and pastors identified from an early date: “Material possessions and wealth in God’s creative intent are not intrinsically evil although through them their possessors may encounter a real and powerful temptation, danger, and a potential for wickedness and destruction.” How they understood and addressed these tensions in a critical time of transition has had consequences ever since.

There are no easy answers to the problems and struggles associated with poverty in the world today. The contributors to this issue of The Yale ISM Review show nonetheless that sacred music, worship, and the arts remain part of our human response and attempts at faithful grappling with this reality. We hope that what you read in these pages will spark new insights and enrich your own views.

Rita Ferrone, editor

February 14, 2018

On the Cover

ISM Review Cover - January 2018

Albert Schilling’s “Suffering Christ” altar cross, pictured on the cover, stands in the Basilica Church of the Redeemer, an Evangelical Lutheran Church in Trier, Germany.

The Basilica Church of the Redeemer was formerly the throne room of the Emperor Constantine. It was badly damaged when the city was bombed during World War II. In its reconstructed form the interior is exceedingly spare and simple. The bare character of the space today is intentional. It expresses the worshipping community’s acute awareness of the need to distance themselves from the building’s former pomp and splendor. Their own description of the church interior expresses it well:

In its unadorned size, the rebuilt Basilika [sic] has reaped the necessary consequences from the experiences of the Nazi era. If the altar of the Protestant church stands where formerly the throne of Roman emperors stood, then the structure must emphasize in its entirety that the power emanating from Jesus Christ differs fundamentally from all worldly claims to power. . . . For what Jesus Christ began is founded not on the power of wealth and money. It is founded on love, the love that God gives to individuals, the love which becomes real in Christ Jesus.

The Schilling altar cross, depicting the suffering Christ, brings into focus the close connection between deprivation and blessing:

This fundamental theological conviction is illustrated by the altar cross. The figure created by Albert Schilling embodies the solidarity of Christ with those who suffer. With his representation of Christ the Basel artist also demonstrates that the compassion of Jesus for the suffering people of the world leads beyond the most extreme consequence of death. The power of powerless love is stronger than the power of death. Thus the Crucified Christ becomes the Resurrected One offering his blessing. The altar cross reveals exactly this, as seen from the side. Schilling’s Christ figure is not hanging on the cross—it is standing in front of it, with hands raised in blessing. Thus the cross becomes the central symbol of Christian hope: death does not have the last word. God’s love leads beyond death.

— Editor

In This Issue

We are pleased to present the Fall 2016 issue of The Yale ISM Review. Published by the Yale Institute of Sacred Music, the Review is an open-access online publication serving practitioners in the fields of sacred music, worship, and the related arts. You are invited to join us for stimulating discussions, enriched by contributions from Yale faculty and others who are leaders in their fields.

This issue of the Review is organized around the theme of Christmas. The first section begins with an essay by Markus Rathey, who explores the riches of Bach’s musical-theological synthesis in his Christmas Oratorio. Felicity Harley-McGowan and Andrew McGowan trace the origins of the liturgical feast of Christmas and discuss the development of the iconography of Christ’s birth in ancient Christian art. The visual feature that follows gives us a closer look at some of the splendid mosaics of Sant’Apollinare Nuovo that are discussed in their essay. Finally, Wendy Farley’s lyrical reflection on the meaning of the Incarnation weaves together current events, scripture, and hymns to make a powerful statement about what is at stake in our observance of Christmas today.

Our second section is devoted to how we keep the feast. It opens with an essay by Nicholas Denysenko discussing the relationship between Orthodox liturgical hymns and popular carols. Christmas is a celebration of “joy and light,” linking home and church observances. Susan Roll picks up on a darker theme, raising the challenge of how we can celebrate Christmas today in a violent world; she draws our attention to the earliest extant Christmas sermon, which takes as its text Matthew’s terrifying account of the Massacre of the Innocents. Bruce Gordon dispels the myth of Calvin as the Reformation figure who rejected Christmas on religious grounds, and explains what actually happened. And Oana Marian takes us on a personal and literary journey that reaches its destination at a Christmas hearth.

In “One Final Note” Guy Irwin invites us to consider the relationship of Christmas to the Crucifixion—a connection too often overlooked or forgotten. He writes: “From the grotto to the hill, from the wood of the manger to the wood of the cross, from swaddling cloths to a seamless garment, from Bethlehem to Jerusalem: Jesus and Mary move through Jesus’s life with the inexorability and gravity of a liturgical procession. And we move with them, from Christmas to Easter, every year.”


On the Cover


Artist unknown: Adoration of the Magi, detail. Fragment from a Roman sarcophagus, fourth century. From the cemetery of Saint Agnes, Rome. Vatican Museums, Museo Pio Cristiano, inv. 31459.

In this Issue

This issue’s theme of water takes us to tsunami-afflicted Japan, a Norwegian fjord, the Sonoran desert, the glaciers of Alaska, and the Gulf of Mexico. It invites us to step into the hold of slave ships, into mosques and synagogues and churches, and into the River Jordan. It calls us outdoors to pray for rain under a cloudless California sky, and to play and be cleansed with water at a funeral in the Catskill Mountains. It asks us to reflect on how we invite people to the waters of baptism, how we conserve the natural gift of water, and how we celebrate the seasons of creation in the church’s worship.

Water is life-giving, but it can also be a threat to life. This issue is therefore about water as gift and mercy but also as danger and a form of wilderness. Because of the necessity of water for all life, we cannot consider it without also paying due attention to its absence, both real and metaphorical. Water inspires song and plays a role in worship. But it is likewise true that drought, thirst, dryness, aridity—the need for water—call forth a response from creature to Creator, one that must somehow be expressed, whether by means of song, prayer, movement, poetry, or art.

Our last entry, “One Final Note,” considers water as the polyvalent sign of the Spirit’s powerful presence in our midst. Could it be that water is not only something in which we can play, but also an expression of God’s ecstasy in animating all of human existence?

To all our contributors: Thank you for the insights drawn from the wells of your experience, reflection, research, and wisdom. To our readers: Drink deeply!



On the Cover

Perugino, pietro (1448-1523). The Baptism of Christ, c. 1498. Oil on olive wood, 30 x 23.3 cm. Kunsthistorisches Museum. Photo Credit: Erich Lessing/Art Resource, NY

Pietro Perugino (1448–1523). The Baptism of Christ, c. 1498. Oil on olive wood, 30 x 23.3 cm. Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna. Photo Credit: Erich Lessing/Art Resource, NY

Cover design: Maura Gianakos, Yale Printing & Publishing Services