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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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This book records my lived experience. Many people, both professional colleagues and personal friends, have helped me along the way. I am particularly grateful to Michael O’Sullivan for his work on Authentic Interiority and Bernadette Flanagan, who encouraged me in the early stages of the writing. I am grateful to the people whose stories are here, such as my good friends, Estelle Jorgensen and Iris Yob and my own family. I have tried to name them in my story while anonymising people who I have not regarded as helpful. The text contains poems which often contain the emotions of a situation better than prose. It also contains writing for liturgical contexts, including published and unpublished hymns and songs. I am grateful to many feminist friends who have been prepared to experiment with me (Boyce-Tillman 2014) and the liberation they achieved for me. Collaboration with Kay Norrington and the Southern Sinfonia has enabled me to develop my composing and conducting skills. Here the access to Winchester Cathedral as a performance space is due to the Very Rev James Atwell whose view of the cathedral as a place for everyone has informed not only the access that he gave to so many different groups of people but also the spirit in which that access has been granted. I am grateful to Elaine Wisdom and Elizabeth and Stanley Baxter at Holy Rood House, Centre for Health and Pastoral Care, Thirsk, Yorkshire where many of my initial ideas were interrogated. I am...

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