Janet Morley

From Wikitia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Janet Morley
Add a Photo
CitizenshipUnited Kingdom
Alma mater
  • Murray Edwards College
  • King's College London
  • Postgraduate Certificate in Education
  • University of Newcastle upon Tyne
  • Author
  • Poet
  • Christian feminist

Janet Morley is a British author, poet, and Christian feminist. Her books Celebrating Women (1986, co-edited with Hannah Ward) and All Desires Known (1988) established Morley as a campaigner[1] for inclusive 'non-sexist' language in Christian liturgy.[2][3][4][5] Her prayer For the darkness of waiting, written in 1985, "grew out of long years of campaigning for women's vocations to be recognised"[6] by the Church of England: it has been used at national events celebrating women's ministry including the Liturgy of Hope at Canterbury Cathedral on 18 April 1986[7], and the service Celebrating 25 Years of Women Priests at Lambeth Palace on 1 March 2019 (read by Sally Hitchiner).[8][9][10] Her prayer O God who brought us to birth, and in whose arms we die, first published in 1985, appears in Common Worship, part of the official liturgical resource of the Church of England.[11] Critics acclaim her anthologies of poetry: The Heart's Time (2011)[12], Haphazard by Starlight (2013)[13], Our Last Awakening (2016)[14], and Love Set You Going (2019)[15].


Morley studied English at New Hall, Cambridge (now Murray Edwards College), pursued biblical studies at King's College London, and received a Postgraduate Certificate in Education at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne.[16][17] She has worked in adult religious education for Christian Aid and for the Methodist Church of Great Britain, in the Methodist Connexional Team and at Wesley House, as formational tutor and as the founding Commissioning Editor of Holiness, its open access peer-reviewed journal.[17] She edited the volumes of Holiness for 2015 and 2016.[18][19]

Caring responsibilities for others have included raising children, caring for her six grandchildren, and looking after elderly relatives as they live with dementia.[17][20]

Like her mother and her father, she has been a church-going member of the Church of England her whole life.[17][21]

Morley reckons she is born about the same year as the Shetlandic poet Christine de Luca.[21]

Member of St Hilda Community

Morley was a member of the St Hilda Community,[22] contributing liturgy eventually published in All Desires Known.

The St Hilda Community was a group of women and men who met for worship each Sunday, from February 1987 until at least 1991, first at St Benet's, the chapel of Queen Mary College (now QMUL), and later at Bow Road Methodist Church.[23][24] Although there was an ongoing campaign, since at least 1975, by the Movement for the Ordination of Women to allow the ordination of women to the priesthood, the General Synod of the Church of England would not vote in favour of women priests until November 1992.[25] A purpose of the St Hilda Community was to offer a 'non-sexist liturgy' that "gave full space and authority to women, without apology, secrecy, or shame".[23] Another purpose was that its members could "receive the broader vision of our Christian heritage and women's spiritual offerings in language which excludes no person and no image of God".[22] The community decided to hold eucharists celebrated by women priests lawfully ordained in other countries, despite this practice being declared "illegal" by Graham Leonard, then Bishop of London.[23] Resident in London for doctoral studies, American priest Suzanne Fageol accepted the invitation to be priest to the community.[23] Fageol used texts by Morley, such as the Eucharistic prayer for Easter, celebrated on Easter Day 1987.[7] Fageol writes:[22]

Such feelings as vulnerability, weakness and helplessness have traditionally been interpreted by our culture as belonging to the psychological character of women, and labelled negative. Feminism tends to view them as constructive and positive essential human feelings. ... Janet Morley, a feminist liturgical author and a member of St Hilda's, writes for us in this way when she uses phrases such as: 'vulnerable God', 'so we may show forth his brokenness', 'for on this night you were delivered as one of us...needy and naked', 'you emptied yourself of power', and 'inspire our weakness'.[7] [citation in original]

Watson[26] discusses both the St Hilda Community and Morley's book Celebrating Women with Hannah Ward.


All Desires Known

The first edition, a green paperback jointly published by the Movement for the Ordination of Women and Women in Theology in 1988, divides into three parts: Collects, Formal Prayers, and Psalms and Poems. Introducing the book, Morley writes:

'All desires known': this phrase has always evoked in me that distinctive stance which I associate with authentic worship: namely, an appalled sense of self-exposure combined with a curious but profound relief; and so to write under this title has been both a discipline and a comfort. I have chosen it because I understand the Christian life to be about the integration of desire: our personal desires, our political vision, and our longing for God.

She also writes, concerning her use of feminine language for God:

Feminine imagery not only affirms a comfortable closeness for women to the God in whose image we are made: it also prevents us from distancing ourselves---as we can do with 'male' language---from the uncomfortable, even frightening closeness of the difficult God who is not made in our image.

The Collects

The book has a series of collects, one for each Sunday and major weekday festival of the church's lectionary year. Morley wrote the collects weekly from Advent 1986 to Advent 1987, guided by the eucharistic lectionary of the 1980 Alternative Service Book.

The Formal Prayers

The prayers take forms of litany, canticle, eucharistic prayer, confession, and blessing. Some are for women's groups and some for a mixed congregation.

  • For the darkness of waiting, written for the Women in Theology liturgy group, Advent Sunday 1985. The litany was used at the Liturgy of Hope, Canterbury Cathedral, 18 April 1986.[27]
  • Hymn to Wisdom, written as a reflection on a meeting of the Peace Preaching Course on the theme And the Word was made flesh, held in Oxford, July 1987.
  • Statement of faith and Confession and mutual absolution, written and revised for regular use in the Women in Theology liturgy group.
  • Litany of penitence for the denial of women's authority and Litany of blessing for women taking authority, written for a festival service for the opening of holy orders to women in the Diocese of London on 31 March 1987 at St Mary-le-Bow.
  • Eucharistic prayer for ordinary use
  • Eucharistic prayer for Christmas Eve, written for a eucharist at Holy Trinity House, Paddington, on Christmas Eve 1986. A woman priest presided at the event, attended only by women.
  • Footwashing liturgy for Maundy Thursday, first used at the Greenham vigil, on Maundy Thursday 1987, by Christian women at Blue Gate, Greenham Common Women's Peace Camp.
  • Eucharistic prayer for Easter, written for the St Hilda Community, and first used on Easter Day 1987.
  • Eucharistic prayer for Pentecost, written for the St Hilda Community, and first used at Pentecost 1987.
  • Benedicite omnia opera, canticle first used at the Greenham vigil, August 1987.
  • Four blessings with first lines: Oh God our dance, May holy Wisdom, May the God who shakes heaven and earth, and May the God who dances in creation.

Psalms and Poems

  • I will praise God, my Beloved
  • God my God, why have you deserted me?
  • God is my strong rock in whom I trust
  • As a woman in labour who longs for the birth
  • They have taken away my Lord
  • In darkness and anxiety
  • and you held me

The second edition is substantially expanded, with forty-two additional pieces of writing. The cover features a painting Red Canna (paintings)Red Canna (circa 1923) by Georgia O'Keefe, from the collection of the University of Arizona Museum of Art, a gift of Oliver James.[28]

Edition Publisher Year ISBN
Movement for the Ordination of Women 1988 ISBN 0951303902
Women in Theology 1988 ISBN 0951303805
Second revised edition SPCK 1992 ISBN 978-0281045914
New edition SPCK 2005 ISBN 978-0281056880
Third edition Morehouse Publishing 2006 ISBN 978-0819222251

Collections of Prayers

As well as All Desires Known, Morley is author or editor of several collections of prayers and worship material.

Title Publisher Year ISBN Notes
Celebrating Women WIT/MOW 1986 (edited by Janet Morley and Hannah Ward)[7]
Bread of Tomorrow: Praying with the World's Poor SPCK 1992 ISBN 978-0281045594 (edited by Janet Morley)
Companions of God: Praying for Peace in the Holy Land Christian Aid 1994 ISBN 978-0904379198 (authored by Janet Morley)
Celebrating Women SPCK 1995 ISBN 978-0281048366 (edited by Hannah Ward, Jennifer Wild, and Janet Morley; second revised edition)
Bread of Tomorrow: Prayers for the Church Year Orbis Books 1996 ISBN 978-0883448311 (edited by Janet Morley)
Dear Life: Praying Through the Year with Christian Aid Christian Aid 1998 ISBN 9780904379310 (edited by Janet Morley, Jennifer Wild, and Hannah Ward)
Bread of Tomorrow: Praying with the World's Poor SPCK 2004 ISBN 978-0281056989 (edited by Janet Morley, new edition)

Anthologies of Poetry

Starting in 2011, Morley has published a series of poetry anthologies on different themes.

Title Publisher Year ISBN
The Heart's Time: A Poem a Day for Lent and Easter SPCK 2011 ISBN 978-0281063727
Haphazard by Starlight: A Poem a Day from Advent to Epiphany SPCK 2013 ISBN 978-0281070626
Our Last Awakening: Poems For Living In The Face Of Death SPCK 2016 ISBN 978-0281073542
Love Set You Going: Poems of the Heart SPCK 2019 ISBN 978-0281078929


  • Haphazard by Starlight: an Advent Pilgrimage, talk in the Sunday Forum, St Paul's Cathedral, 3 December 2013[29]
  • Guarding the ‘holy fire’: dementia and the mystery of love, annual Joseph Winter lecture, delivered to the churches in Wakefield, July 2017.[21]
  • Whatsoever things are true...whatsoever things are lovely...think on these things, sermon preached before the University of Cambridge, 15 October 2017.[16][17]
  • Love Set You Going, talk at the Church Times Festival of Faith and Literature, Bloxham School, 21 February 2020[30][31]


Elaine Graham writes that Morley's Collects are "some of the most well-known, and widely-used, feminist prayers".[5] Muriel Orevillo-Montenegro writes that Morley's Eucharistic Prayer for Christmas Eve "expresses beautifully the connection between Jesus' blood and women's menstruation".[32] Mary Grey writes, regarding and you held me: "Clearly an erotic experience is being described, yes, of darkness, but also of longing, surrender, akin to aching for God. It highlights...the mystics' use of eros, desire, longing, with definite sexual connotations, which evokes an embodied form of mysticism."[33] Wilma Jakobsen writes that Morley's O God, the Power of the Powerless "particularly spoke to us as South African women in the complexities of our struggles, and we used it frequently. Morley's images of persistence and power in the midst of powerlessness, and of God as the source of strength for those who are powerless, encouraged us to keep on proclaiming the truth."[34] Malcolm Doney writes, in his review of Love Set You Going, that Morley is "noted for her excellent magpie collections of poetry, prayers, and rites".[15]


  1. Morley, Janet (1988). "I Desire Her with My Whole Heart". The Month. 21 (2): 541–544. Some of us began to campaign for more inclusive language in the liturgy: to include women as well as men in reference to worshippers, and to minimize the use of the male pronoun for God.
  2. Loades, Ann (1990). Feminist Theology: A Reader. SPCK. ISBN 9780664251291. The reader includes Morley's essay "I Desire Her with My Whole Heart".
  3. Avis, Paul D. L. (1999). God and the Creative Imagination: Metaphor, Symbol, and Myth in Religion and Theology. Routledge. ISBN 978-0415215039. It is in this tradition that new, non-sexist liturgies pray to God or Christ as 'our beloved', 'our companion', 'our brother', 'our mother', 'our victim', 'our lover', 'our healer' and so on (Morley, 1988)
  4. Watson, Natalie K. Introducing Feminist Ecclesiology. Sheffield Academic PRess. ISBN 0-8264-6254-5. This book, based on Watson's PhD dissertation at Durham University, cites "Celebrating Women"
  5. 5.0 5.1 Graham, Elaine (2013). Words Made Flesh: Writings in Pastoral and Practical Theology. Hymns Ancient & Modern Ltd. ISBN 9780334048657.
  6. Conway-Jones, Ann (20 December 2013). "Prayer for the week". Church Times. Retrieved 28 December 2020.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 Morley, Janet (1988). All Desires Known. Movement for Ordination of Women and Women in Theology. ISBN 0951303902.
  8. "Archbishop of Canterbury celebrates 25 years of women's ordination in Church of England". Anglican News. 4 March 2019. Retrieved 26 December 2020.
  9. "CELEBRATING 25 YEARS OF WOMEN PRIESTS" (PDF). Archbishop of Canterbury. Retrieved 26 December 2020.
  10. "Celebrating 25 years of Women's Ordination". BBC Radio 4 Sunday Worship. BBC. Retrieved 26 December 2020.
  11. "Funeral". Worship Texts and Resources. The Church of England. Retrieved 30 December 2020.
  12. Wilbourne, David (23 January 2012). "A Good Friday people". Church Times. Retrieved 28 December 2020.
  13. Welsh, Philip (1 November 2013). "Aftershave or gingerbread?". Church Times. Retrieved 28 December 2020.
  14. Oakley, Mark (15 July 2016). "Language giving life to the soul". Church Times. Retrieved 28 December 2020.
  15. 15.0 15.1 Doney, Malcolm (20 December 2019). "Love Set You Going, by Janet Morley". Church Times. Retrieved 26 December 2020.
  16. 16.0 16.1 "Calendar". Cambridge University Reporter (6478): 17. 4 October 2017. Retrieved 24 December 2020.
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 17.3 17.4 "University Sermon". University of Cambridge. Retrieved 22 December 2020.
  18. Morley, Janet (May 2015). "Editorial" (PDF). Holiness The Journal of Wesley House Cambridge. 1 (1): 1–2. Retrieved 24 December 2020.
  19. Stobart, Andrew (October 2016). "Editorial" (PDF). Holiness The Journal of Wesley House Cambridge. 2 (3): 279–282. Retrieved 24 December 2020.
  20. Clemence, Ruth. "An interview with Janet Morley (30 November 2019)". ruthclemence.com. Retrieved 22 December 2020.
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 Morley, Janet (October 2018). "Guarding the 'holy fire': dementia and the mystery of love" (PDF). Holiness The Journal of Wesley House Cambridge. 4 (1): 77–93. Retrieved 24 December 2020.
  22. 22.0 22.1 22.2 Fageol, Suzanne (1991). "Celebrating Experience". In The St Hilda Community (ed.). Women Included: A Book of Services and Prayers. SPCK. pp. 16–26. ISBN 0-281-04531-3.
  23. 23.0 23.1 23.2 23.3 Furlong, Monica (1991). "Introduction: A 'Non-Sexist' Community". In The St Hilda Community (ed.). Women Included: A Book of Services and Prayers. SPCK. pp. 5–15. ISBN 0-281-04531-3.
  24. Furlong, Monica (January 2001). "The St Hilda Community". The Ecumenical Review. 53 (1): 82–85. Retrieved 27 December 2020.
  25. "From the archive: The day the Church said yes to women". Church Times. 13 November 2017. Retrieved 27 December 2020.
  26. Watson, Natalie (2002). Introducing Feminist Ecclesiology. Bloomsbury Publishing. ISBN 9780567110527.
  27. Pierce, Janette. "Thousands Celebrate Ministries Of Women". The Archives of the Episcopal Church. The Episcopal Church of the USA. Retrieved 28 December 2020.
  28. "Red Canna, (painting) – 1925/1926". Smithsonian Institution Research Information System (SIRIS). Retrieved January 13, 2017.
  29. Morley, Janet. "Haphazard by Starlight: an Advent Pilgrimage - Janet Morley at St Paul's Cathedral". YouTube. Retrieved 27 December 2020.
  30. Morley, Janet. "Love Set You Going". Hymns Ancient and Modern. Retrieved 27 December 2020.
  31. Becket, Adam; Thornton, Ed; Handley, Paul (6 March 2020). "Bloxham: Love and its complexities, in writers' hands". Church Times. Retrieved 1 January 2021.
  32. Orevillo-Montenegro, Muriel (2010). The Jesus Of Asian Women. Concept Publishing Company. p. 76. ISBN 9788172681982.
  33. Grey, Mary (1997). Prophecy and Mysticism: The Heart of the Postmodern Church. Bloomsbury Academic. p. 53. ISBN 9780567085870.
  34. Jakobsen, Wilma (2001). "Chapter 14: Like Water in a Desert: Women Church in South Africa". In Berger, Teresa (ed.). Dissident Daughters: Feminist Liturgies in Global Context. Westminster John Knox Press. p. 210. ISBN 9780664223793.

External links

Add External links

This article "Janet Morley" is from Wikipedia. The list of its authors can be seen in its historical. Articles taken from Draft Namespace on Wikipedia could be accessed on Wikipedia's Draft Namespace.