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Freedom Song: Faith, Abuse, Music and Spirituality

A Lived Experience of Celebration


June Boyce-Tillman

This book is an autobiographical account of the development of an authentic interiority. It charts the way in which the Christian faith in which the author was enculturated was refined by her lived experience of music, abuse, forgiveness, interfaith dialogue, gender and vocation (into teaching and priesthood). The author describes how music and spirituality can create a route into forgiveness by creatively transforming («mulching») childhood abuse into celebration. Her work challenges established therapeutic models and suggests a variety of alternative tools, including created ritual.

The volume is set out as a series of meditations on the themes contained in the Lord’s Prayer; it can be read in separate sections, as well as in its totality. The author’s life is perceived as a crystal that can be viewed through various lenses, illustrated by different styles of writing. These include narrative accounts written in a personal style; hymns, songs and poems that condense her thinking around a theme; and more academic reflection, using other people’s writing and experiences to understand her own.

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Chapter 13: As We Forgive Those Who Trespass Against Us: A Good Friday Thing


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As We Forgive Those Who Trespass Against Us: A Good Friday Thing

Sing of a place – a flowering field

Where divisions end

I’ll meet you there, I’ll meet you there1


It was Palm Sunday in Florence and the processions of waving olive branches filled my heart. I had now heard the Passion according to St Mark three times with the script in front of me and my Italian was definitely improving. I had met the cathedral Dean and told him that I prayed for him every month on the cycle of prayer at Winchester Cathedral. He had seemed harassed and stressed when I had approached, but his face glowed when I told him that; he said he would pray for me too. I was sitting in the portico of a palace, when the mobile phone rang and told me that my abuser had died.

The Abuse

Was it really all over? I remembered the festivals when the family gathered together – the darkened room and sitting on his knee and his desire for me to make him happy. I remember what he did to me – the mixture of ← 277 | 278 → excitement, secrecy and guilt. I remember the big book case next to the sofa where it always seemed to happen. It happened first after my performance, aged seven, of Confidentially. This song was the then theme tune of Reginald...

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