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The voice in this narrative poem by Ren Jackson explores the heartache and journey of praise in response to 1 Samuel 2:1-10.

1 Samuel 2:1-10

1 Samuel 1

Hannah's Song


Ren Jackson


Curated by: 

Jonathon Roberts


Spoken Word

Image by Giorgio Trovato

Primary Scripture

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I will offer this: What struck me from the start was Hannah's voice. On one level, it was fascinating to go through several iterations of the passage, i.e., God's Word, Good News Bible, Amplified and particularly The Message to see how her story was related. Then, on another, to hear how she made her promise to God, in some cases it said, vow, and her subsequent exaltation, to God, for the promise that was fulfilled. It was that exaltation, her song of praise, that resonated with me and is the core of the narrative of the poem. I wanted to explore how might that sound in a contemporary tone, yet rooted in Hannah's voice.

As I continued to compose the piece, I felt compelled to include echoes of what transpires in 1 Samuel 1. I thought the reader would appreciate the context of the narrative better with a few more lines providing that referenced where and why the 'song' was lifted up.

I know there are diverse examples of this kind of praise throughout the Bible. As much as I was inspired by Hannah's act of worship, it was also the tenacity, and specificity to which she spoke that captivated my imagination. There is clearly an emotional distance that Hannah covers, and what I hoped to convey by the 'end' (because it's a beginning, too) was a sense that along the way she found the space to accept that she was no longer 'broken or barren'—indeed, never was—and that she came to the conclusion to make the choice to dance till her home-going.

Spark Notes

The Artist's Reflection

Ren Jackson: Born and bred in Indianapolis, this Midwest kid was molded in the deserts of Arizona, and forged on the stages of Chicago. Ren emerged amid the thriving theater and teaching artist community in New York, having logged miles regionally as a professional actor, including time as a company member with the Brooklyn-based, site-specific theater company, Brave New World Rep, in addition to building on his stints as a teaching artist in Chicago and New York.

Being a former competitive athlete, much of his approach to his work is grounded in his exploration of a story's physicality. Whether it be through stage combat, dance, gesture or stylized movement, his commitment and enthusiasm to creating a physical narrative that supplements and highlights a text are evident.

Ren is always up for collaboration on projects with a focus on strong storytelling, spiritual development, ensemble building and mentoring youth in the performing arts, fitness or sports.

Ren Jackson

About the Artist

Ren Jackson

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