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Let’s Sing Songs about Biblical Women!

I grew up on kids’ Bible songs. I walked and lept around the living room as we sang about the healing of the lame man. I hit hits my fists together to show how “The Wise man Built his House” and I joined my hands over my head to show that “His Banner over me is love.”

Even today, my two little boys respond to and sing these songs.

But I don’t remember songs that featured women’s stories—my kids’ song repertoire did not include Mary mother of Jesus, Martha, Esther, Deborah, or any other leading lady of the Bible that I can remember.

I taught “Women in the Bible” for the first time last semester. In our initial class, I found that not one student knew the name of the woman who triumphed over Sisera’s army; most were completely unaware of the story.

As is my tendency, my shock at their unfamiliarity led to impassioned storytelling and teaching.

It seemed that everyone in the class knew about David and Goliath, but no one knew about Jael and Sisera. And yet, it’s the same story: one person defeating an enemy army through killing one other person.

It seemed that everyone knew about David and Goliath, but no one knew about Jael and Sisera. And yet, it’s the same story: one person defeating an enemy army through killing one other person. Click To Tweet

Perhaps my students knew the story because they grew up singing “Only a boy named David” like I did.  I loved it. Here’s a pretty funny video of some kids dramatizing it:

 

But there’s no song about Jael.

Now you may say we sing about David because he’s a young person and we write kids’ songs for young people. But so many other songs center on adults, including one of my personal favorites, “Zaccheus.”

You may also say that David has a more prominent role than Jael, and that is true. But I don’t think that gives us license to ignore other heroic stories in scripture.

Anyhow, in class that day, I thought it was time to compose new songs, so here’s what I wrote then. This is to the tune of “Only a boy named David”:

Only the woman Jael, Only a little war

Only the woman Jael, It’s milk she has to pour

Only the woman Jael, Only a fleeing man

Only the woman Jael, A stake is in her hand

She takes the stake to his temple

And pounds and pounds and pounds (2X)

And pounds (7X)

She takes the stake to his temple, And Sisera’s army’s down!

Too much pounding, you say? Well, my pounding arm isn’t that strong, and to put a stake through a whole skull would take a lot of pounding for me.

Too gruesome? Maybe.

Too dangerous because kids might try this at home? Well, I never threw rocks at others’ heads or sliced people’s heads off because of the David song. . .

Now, I admit, my songwriting skills need work, but we need to start, no?

So, I have another for your enjoyment. I realize that “The Battle of Jericho” is a moving spiritual. I grew up on it as a kids’ song. Here’s the triumph of Deborah to the same tune:

Deborah fit the battle with Sisera, Sisera, Sisera

Deborah fit the battle with Sisera

And Jael pinned him to the ground

You may talk about Barak from Kedesh

You may talk about the men of Saul

But there’s none like good old Deborah

And the battle of Sisera

Deborah fit the battle with Sisera, Sisera, Sisera

Deborah fit the battle with Sisera

And Jael pinned him to the ground

Barak said “Please come with me!”

Deborah said, “Okay.”

“But because you say you need me

A woman will get the fame!”

Deborah fit the battle with Sisera, Sisera, Sisera Deborah fit the battle with Sisera And Jael pinned him to the ground #FemaleBibleSongs Click To Tweet

When we look at the history and theology of the church, we say “lex orandi, lex credendi,” fancy Latin words that literally mean the law prayer is the law of theology. In other words, what we pray or sing shapes what we believe. No wonder we think men are the only heroes in the Bible. We’re good at singing their songs.

And let’s admit, few biblical women were heroes of war. But Mary mother of Jesus, Martha, Esther, Mary Magdalene, Ruth, and more were heroic in their own way, no? What if we taught kids to sing their songs too? 

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About Amy F Davis Abdallah

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