Teresa Berger

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


Living God,

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.


Living God

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

ever anew

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 BergerTeresa 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 HistoryDissident 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.

Volume 2.1 Fall 2015

Cover of the Yale ISM Review Volume 2.1 Fall 2015

In this Issue

On the Cover

A Blessing Over Waters

The Water Worlds of John Muir

Praying for Rain in the California Drought

Ten Fathom Ledge

Walking on Water-Azurite


Water in the Book of Common Prayer

Why We Need an Altar Call to the Font

A ‘Saguaro Church’ at Worship

The Rain: A Funeral Story

Stormy Weather: A Homiletic Essay

Hope Travels Below Sea Level

Water and the Spirit