This text originally appeared in an interactive multimedia CD-ROM entitled Ocean Psalms: Meditations, Stories, Prayers, Songs and Blessings from the Sea, co-produced by Teresa Berger and Lorna Collingridge (Durham, NC: MysticWaters Media, 2008).Text by Teresa Berger, melody adapted from the chant of the Exsultet by Lorna Collingridge; reproduced by kind permission of the authors.
Melody: A Blessing Over Waters
we call you mother
because you are the source of all life.
At the very dawn of creation
you birthed the cosmos
and took it in your arms to nurture it.
Ever since then
mothers have known your creative energy
in the breaking of their waters
when giving birth.
Your Spirit breathed gently on the waters of creation
making them wellsprings of life.
You taught the waves
their words of wisdom
and the ocean depths
their silent song of praise.
The torrential waters of the great flood
became a sign of the waters of redemption
as they brought an end to worlds of violence
and a new beginning of life.
In the rainbow
you gave water
the color of hope.
You showed Hagar a well in the desert
to revive her dying child.
You inspired Hebrew midwives
to save the children of Israel
thus preparing a people
to walk through the waters of the Red Sea.
You moved a Levite woman
to hide her son in a basket
and entrust him to a river.
Miriam sang your praises
as you freed her people from slavery
and drowned Pharaoh’s chariots
in the waters of the sea.
Like a mother
you carried your people
through the desert,
providing water in the wilderness.
No wonder your prophets spoke of your grace
as morning dew
as overflowing torrent
as mother’s milk.
When the time had come,
your Word took human form
in the water of Mary’s womb.
Blessed, indeed, the fruit of this womb:
He was baptized in the waters of the Jordan.
At a well, he spoke truth to an outcast woman
and promised her living waters.
He calmed the storm over the Sea of Galilee
and the wind and waves recognized his voice.
Dying on a cross,
water and blood flowed from his side.
In them, you birthed your church.
you have made water a symbol of your life
ever since the dawn of creation.
Let your Spirit breathe gently on these waters
that they may become for us the waters of life,
the color of hope,
the sound of rain in the desert.
May you birth us
in water and the Spirit
from now on until the very end of time
when the river of the water of life
will be all in all.
Teresa Berger is Professor of Liturgical Studies and Thomas E. Golden Jr. Professor of Catholic Theology at the Yale Institute of Sacred Music and Yale Divinity School. Her scholarly interests lie at the intersection of theological and liturgical studies with gender theory. Her publications include Gender Differences and the Making of Liturgical History; Dissident Daughters: Feminist Liturgies in Global Context; and Fragments of Real Presence: Liturgical Traditions in the Hands of Women. She has also written on the hymns of Charles Wesley and on the nineteenth-century Anglo-Catholic revival. She was editor of Liturgy in Migration: From the Upper Room to Cyberspace, essays from the 2011 ISM Liturgy Conference.