Today, I’d like to share with you an experience, or rather a realization, that I had while I was attending the Easter service together with my mum this year. The church she attends has quite a lot of songs that I enjoy, and I found I really loved singing along with the congregation.
I’ve also been a member of a gospel choir during my time in England, where I went twice a week – sometimes more often, when a concert was approaching – to sing songs praising God. But it only occurred to me during this Easter service that there hardly are any gospel songs that we can sing as pagans.
Obviously, there are quite a lot of songs with a pagan theme, often written and sung by pagan artists. For example, I do love the work of Damh the Bard; his rendition of the Raggle Taggle Gypsy never fails to make me smile, and his The Spirit of Albion gives me goosebumps quite often.
However, apart from a song by Kellianna called I Walk with the Goddess there is hardly a truly pagan song I know that comes close to gospels like, say, Elvis Presley’s rendition of Working on the Building that I could use during ritual.
The fact is that I love music, so naturally I would like to use music to celebrate my gods. While chants can be very powerful when used in ritual, I’m looking for gospel-like songs that were written for the praise of our gods and that you can sing along to. For me, there’s a certain challenge in getting the key and difficult bits in a gospel right, so I’d like to be able to give a well-sung song as an offering, so to speak.
However, I don’t feel that using existing Christian gospels and changing the lyrics is appropriate, in a way. I do appreciate the efforts by e.g. the German Asatru-Ring Frankfurt, who have quite an extensive library oflyrics – either Christian-themed songs changed to fit pagan rituals, like their Yule songs, or modern pop songs changed to incorporate pagan and Heathen ideas. For example, there is quite a nice Heathen version of Dolly Parton’s Jolene titled Wotan (Heart of You), directed at Odin. My problem is, however, that you’d have to find an instrumental version of these songs to use them during ritual (as much as I like Mrs Parton, I don’t want her to sing about Jolene when I try to devote a song to Odin – and if I don’t have musical accompaniment, I go terribly off key, and no God wants to hear that, believe me).
I also tried to change the lyrics of a song I learned in the gospel choir (it’s called He Reigns; a version of my choir performing it can be found here).
While I managed to get as far as
“Our God is an awesome God,
He reigns from Asgard above”
the next line that says “with wisdom, power and love” wouldn’t quite fit my view of Odin (wisdom, yes – love, not so much); and besides, “Asgard” wouldn’t quite go into the metre anyway.
So essentially, what I really miss at the moment are gospel-like songs that are pagan-themed – or at least neutral enough for me to use them during ritual. Are you familiar with any songs that I might enjoy?