‘The Strong and Gentle Voice’ — Worship IV, #455
  • Looking ahead to the Baptism of the Lord, I was flipping through that section in GIA’s Worship IV, and I was perturbed by what I read in #455, ‘The Strong and Gentle Voice’.

    Verse three reads:

    And was the Dove content
    By Jordan to remain?
    She guided Jesus on to know
    Temptation, thirst, and pain.

    Unless I’m missing something here, the Holy Spirit is referred to as “she.” The author, Adam M. L. Tice, is a Mennonite, and I’m not sure if this is Mennonite belief or one that he personally holds and incorporated into the hymn. Nonetheless, why would this be in a Catholic hymnal?

    For what it’s worth, I very much like Worship IV, but this text (and the fact that it’s on the line-up at my cathedral for Baptism of the Lord) troubles me.
  • CatholicZ09,

    The explanation may be as simple as the fact that "columba" is feminine.

    Alternatively, it could be rank heresy to describe the Holy Ghost with the pronoun "she".
  • I live in heavy Amish/Mennonite country (northern indiana; there are horses and buggies parked outside many stores) and I can tell you they are an odd bunch, and some of them can be surprisingly liberal. There are many factions among them ranging from utterly traditional with no electricity or running water, all the way to cell phones and convertibles. (I literally saw a Mennonite woman driving in a convertible with the top down and her bonnet on two months ago; a queer sight to be sure).

    I suspect this person is among the liberal bunch, and I would definitely classify deeming the Holy Ghost as “she” to be heretical.
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 2,851
    I recall it was common 40 or so years ago to publicise that in Hebrew spirit is a feminine noun. In contrast, in Greek it is neuter, and in Latin masculine. - Tricky things words
  • That’s all fine and dandy, but He’s unequivocally masculine in English, and has revealed Himself as male… so Hebrew seems quite irrelevant, especially when you consider it’s in vogue now to neuter God.
  • Serviam,

    I'm not proposing that this was a good thing to do, merely looking for a less than toxic explanation.
  • GerardH
    Posts: 253
    has revealed Himself as male

    When?
  • Jesus…is a man… and He told us to pray to God the Father… and He created man in His own image. Seems about as clear to me as you can get.

    (Obviously, femaleness is a part of the divine godhead too, but maleness takes clear precedence.)
  • fcbfcb
    Posts: 284
    maleness takes clear precedence


    If “maleness” involves biological sex (which I am old fashioned enough to actually believe), then, no, there is no maleness in God, except the maleness assumed by the eternal Word.

    And Scripture seems to say that both man and woman are created in the image of God.
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,442
    Yes, Aquinas tiptoed up to the question if souls were sexed, and then walked back from it.
  • It is true that when we refer to Christ as ‘man’ that this term is generally to be applied in the broader sense (ie- “manhood” or rather, “humanity”). But He also did reveal Himself in the definite male form, not as intersex or something else entirely. He also taught us to pray to God the Father, and remonstrated Our Lady when He said, “did you not know that I would be in my Father’s house?!”. He didn’t say “My Mother’s house”.

    As I said above, femaleness is obviously a part of the godhead too. Yes, of course, He created Eve in His image too! But He also derived her from Adam, who was first created in His image antecedent to Eve. So, there is something particular to the “maleness” of God, at any rate.

    And universal Christian tradition has always referred to God in male terms. So at the very minimum, it seems an ideological diversion and novelty to refer to God in the feminine, rather than to speak of those feminine qualities which also flow from the Godhead. Mind you, too, English isn’t a gendered language, so taking the gender for a neutral term (“dove”) from another language certainly seems out of place.
  • well, referring to the Dove as "it" wouldn't be appropriate either.
  • From the Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church:
    239 By calling God "Father", the language of faith indicates two main things: that God is the first origin of everything and transcendent authority; and that he is at the same time goodness and loving care for all his children. God's parental tenderness can also be expressed by the image of motherhood,62 which emphasizes God's immanence, the intimacy between Creator and creature. the language of faith thus draws on the human experience of parents, who are in a way the first representatives of God for man. But this experience also tells us that human parents are fallible and can disfigure the face of fatherhood and motherhood. We ought therefore to recall that God transcends the human distinction between the sexes. He is neither man nor woman: he is God. He also transcends human fatherhood and motherhood, although he is their origin and standard:63 no one is father as God is Father.

    This can also be found at
    https://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/__P17.HTM


  • Mike, I appreciate your link.

    As I’ve previously acknowledged, femaleness is also part of the divine. But emphasis is given to the maleness, at least where our human language and the Incarnation are concerned.

    The paragraph that immediately precedes what you’ve copied above states:
    238 Many religions invoke God as "Father". the deity is often considered the "father of gods and of men". In Israel, God is called "Father" inasmuch as he is Creator of the world.59 Even more, God is Father because of the covenant and the gift of the law to Israel, "his first-born son".60 God is also called the Father of the king of Israel. Most especially he is "the Father of the poor", of the orphaned and the widowed, who are under his loving protection.61

    So, I stand by my assertion that to refer to God by feminine pronouns is ill-advised.

    And to clear the air: I’m not claiming that God the Father or God the Holy Ghost somehow embody maleness in the same corporeal sense of God the Son. And even then, as I reiterate, the Godhead contains all femaleness too. I’m just stating that tradition and revelation place emphasis on God’s maleness (and even then, when you read the Summa, you realize this term is a broader term, not limited to merely describing physical / earthly attributes, but also implying substantially more in the spiritual sense, as alluded to by the catechism as well.)
  • GerardH
    Posts: 253
    The text in the OP was clearly referring to the Holy Spirit, who has never been revealed as male
    Thanked by 1a_f_hawkins
  • I certainly see your point, Serviam. My reason for not including 238, is that to me it seems the Church is using it to cite an example of those other faiths and then further detailing its position with 239. I probably ought to have included it for a bigger picture.
    Interestingly, St. John Paul II’s 1992 Catechism 239 states, in reference to the Father: "God transcends the human distinction between the sexes. He is neither man nor woman: He is God."
    I’ve found 239 and some of the scriptures such as Luke
    https://bible.usccb.org/bible/luke/13
    where God draws the mother hen comparison, to be simply thought provoking amid the more common male references to God. I don’t believe it would be harmful to employ these, so long as it’s precise in its reference and not being used to simply refer to God in feminine manner to promote a movement that exists in the secular world.
    I state the obvious but, using the music of the Church for any other reason than to glorify God is clearly inappropriate.
    Surely you’ve heard of the movements within Christianity that employ exclusively feminine imagery for God and lean heavily on Holy Wisdom or Sophia Christology. I venture to say that if we find ourselves at that point, we may have fallen off.
    Regarding CatholicZ09’s post, I think that author took a creative liberty that as a music director would cause me to simply avoid programming that hymn. Of course, not all things in the hymnal are worthy of the Mass (unless it’s the Lumen Christi Hymnal). If I were you, I’d consider approaching or writing the music director at the Cathedral, and ask for their reasoning there.
  • I state the obvious but, using the music of the Church for any other reason than to glorify God is clearly inappropriate.
    Surely you’ve heard of the movements within Christianity that employ exclusively feminine imagery for God and lean heavily on Holy Wisdom or Sophia Christology. I venture to say that if we find ourselves at that point, we may have fallen off.

    This is more/less what I’ve been driving at the whole time. And I cited paragraph 238 to show that it is custom to speak of God in the masculine, so I couldn’t agree with you more on this front.
  • davido
    Posts: 559
    Let’s just face the truth and end this thread:

    This text is NuReligion which is why GIA included it; it shouldn’t be in a Catholic hymnal; don’t buy anything from GIA.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,787
    The texts of hymns should not walk any thin lines or push the envelope but stay well clear of errors and confusions, so this one is not suitable.