Kathleen Deignan is a theologian and sacred songwriter who has composed nearly 200 songs for devotion and worship. They are often based on prayer poems or ancient texts. As a Professor of Religious Studies at Iona College, she writes and lectures in the area of classical and contemporary spirituality. We have reviewed two books she edited: Thomas Merton Writings on Nature: When the Trees Say Nothing and Thomas Merton: A Book of Hours. She is also founder and composer in residence of Schola Ministries, a project in service of the liturgical and contemplative arts that has produced a dozen of her CDs to date.
It is quite a pleasure to discover this multi-talented writer's many gifts! As we write about gratitude in the Alphabet of Spiritual Literacy, "The spiritual practice of gratitude has been called a state of mind and a way of life. But we prefer to think of it as a grammar — an underlying structure that helps us to construct and make sense out of our lives. Its syntax reveals a system of relationships linking us to the Divine and to every part of creation." The Gift: Songs of the Grateful Heart speaks to this web of wonders which we receive with humility, joy, and reverence.
Aided by a group of gifted musicians, Deignan has created lovely songs and melodies around selections by St. Augustine, the poetry of Jessica Powers, and various psalms. Our favorite selections include her exquisite vocal rendering of "You Have Made All Things New," an ode of Solomon translated by Stephen Mitchell, "All Shall Be Well," inspired by Julian of Norwich, "Late Fragment" by Raymond Carver, and a very moving "How Lovely Is Your Dwelling Place," based on Psalm 84. Intimations of gratitude to God grace this CD.