Christian singer/songwriter Lorraine Hess considers her greatest vocations to be her marriage and a mother to four sons.
So when she was discerning the theme for her third CD, waffling between it being her third Christian recording or a Christmas-specific recording, the idea of it centering on a pro-life message came to her through prayer.
“It wasn’t anything to do with the shepherd or wise men,” Hess said. “I just started praying about it, and I started to get the answer.”
Every idea that was coming to her was about Mary and her saying “yes” to be the mother of Jesus.
“The project was going to be about Mary, be pro-life and it was going to be a fund-raiser,” said Hess, music ministry director of Divine Mercy Parish in Kenner. “I want this Christian album to be a real message of Advent and of Mary.”
To reinforce the direction she was thinking, her bass player during Christmastime in 2011 suggested she do a Christmas album because she “would do it right.” While at adoration not long after that, Hess said she had a clear image of “chains coming off of me.” Then on Christmas Eve, that same year as her 8-year-old son was playing violin as she sang “O Holy Night,” she knew a Christmas album was what she was supposed to do.
From that idea was born “Cradle in Bethlehem,” a Christmas-themed recording based on Isaiah 40: “Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord.” Two dollars from the sale of each CD will go toward ACCESS Pregnancy and Referral Center, a Catholic Charities ministry that provides free pregnancy tests, education on pregnancy and adoption, referrals for prenatal care and community for women facing unplanned pregnancies.
“There are lots of songs about babies and the mother and child,” she said. “I wanted people to realize that Jesus was a real baby, a human.”
Evil tried to intervene
She noted, though, that as soon as she decided to make it a pro-life project, she felt the devil begin to put obstacles in her way.
“I kept close to Mary, and she kept opening doors for me,” Hess said.
The CD has 12 songs – four of them original compositions, including the Hess-written “The Memorare” (with lyrics, author unknown); “In His Presence”; and Advent songs “We Prepare” and “Prepare Ye” (co-written with Jamie Diliberto of St. Francis Xavier in Metairie). She also did original arrangements of the traditional tunes “Go Tell it on the Mountain,” “What Child is This,” “Away in a Manger” and “Noel.”
“Cradle in Bethlehem” was recorded at the Green Room in Woodstock, Ga., produced by Ed Bolduc, a leader in the Christian music industry.
Hess said once Bolduc took over the project it came together easily. Bolduc removed past recording burdens that she usually handled when completing the project, leaving her to concentrate on singing.
“As a musician, it was easier on me in the studio,” she said. “I had more confidence that it wouldn’t fail.”
Not pro-life in name only
Hess realized that just saying she was pro-life was not enough; she wanted to do something more. The donation from CD sales to ACCESS is her affirmation of ACCESS working to help women say yes to their unplanned babies as Mary did.
“Women are ostracized by their families when they have unplanned pregnancies,” Hess said.
The pro-life message is carried even further on the CD. On the back cover and inside jacket, Hess is pictured with her cousin Chrissy Mendel’s baby Rocco at 3 months old. She said Mendel was told by her doctor that she would have trouble having children. Rocco is her third blessing from God.
Hess will have her CDs available at upcoming concerts throughout the archdiocese. She is asking attendees to bring needed baby items for ACCESS to the concerts.
Hess has recorded two other CDs – “We Shall Be Healed” in 2008; and “Child of God” in 2010, two songs of which were published by World Library Publications, a division of J.S. Paluch. One song on the new CD has been selected and two others will be picked up by World Library Publications.
For details, contact Hess at Faith Full Music LLC at www.lorrainehess.com. Her CD is available at Mule’s and Pauline Bookstore in Metairie, and Westbank Religious Supply House.
Christine Bordelon can be reached at email@example.com.