We celebrate Ruth, the Moabite widow and immigrant in art, poetry and music.

Ruth – Painting by Silvia Dimitrova (2019)

Credit: Ruth – Painting by Silvia Dimitrova (2019)

Ruth 1:11-22

11 But Naomi said, ‘Turn back, my daughters, why will you go with me? Do I still have sons in my womb that they may become your husbands? 12 Turn back, my daughters, go your way, for I am too old to have a husband. Even if I thought there was hope for me, even if I should have a husband tonight and bear sons, 13 would you then wait until they were grown? Would you then refrain from marrying? No, my daughters, it has been far more bitter for me than for you, because the hand of the Lord has turned against me.’ 14 Then they wept aloud again. Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her.

15 So she said, ‘See, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.’ 16 But Ruth said,

‘Do not press me to leave you
or to turn back from following you!
Where you go, I will go;
where you lodge, I will lodge;
your people shall be my people,
and your God my God.
17 Where you die, I will die—
there will I be buried.
May the Lord do thus and so to me,
and more as well,
if even death parts me from you!’

18 When Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more to her.

19 So the two of them went on until they came to Bethlehem. When they came to Bethlehem, the whole town was stirred because of them; and the women said, ‘Is this Naomi?’ 20 She said to them,

‘Call me no longer Naomi,
call me Mara,
for the Almighty has dealt bitterly with me.
21 I went away full,
but the Lord has brought me back empty;
why call me Naomi
when the Lord has dealt harshly with me,
and the Almighty has brought calamity upon me?’

22 So Naomi returned together with Ruth the Moabite, her daughter-in-law, who came back with her from the country of Moab. They came to Bethlehem at the beginning of the barley harvest.

Ruth by Graham Kings

Who is this woman,
Poised and balanced,
Pointing to baby,
Carrying sheaves, which
Wave to waves of barley?

Who is this man,
Supporting, protecting,
Prosperous, assured,
Backed by sprouting
And spreading tree?

Who is this madonna,
Cuddling a boy,
With delight and tenderness,
Signalling the way
To fertile foliage?

Ruth, the Moabite,
Widowed, bereaved,
Loyal and faithful to
Mother-in-law from Israel.

‘Where you go, I will go:
Where you lodge, I will lodge:
Your people shall be my people
And your God, my God.
Where you die, I will die
And there will I be buried.’

Ruth reaps and gleans
A harvest of love
And husband of joy.

Boaz, worthy and wealthy,
Honourable and wise,
Hospitable to foreigner,
Welcoming, redeeming,
Redresses history
And Moses in Moab.

Naomi, triply emptied,
Gentle guidance
Now fulfilled,
Nurses her grandson.

Obed, gurgling, worshipping,
Bequeathes the tree of Jesse.
Bethlehem rejoices to house
The house of David,
And, in God’s good time,
Great David’s greater son.

© Graham Kings, Nourishing Connections (Canterbury Press, 2020).

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Permissions for Churches to show the paintings.
We encourage churches to use the paintings in PowerPoint presentations.
There is no charge for this, but the copyright wording should be:
‘Ruth’ by Silvia Dimitrova, commissioned by Alison and Graham Kings. and 

The poems are published with photos of the paintings in ‘Nourishing Connections’, Canterbury Press, 2020.

The CD of the seven anthems is available here:

A 17 minute Fugue State Films video of the world premiere of Tristan’s anthems at St Stephen, Walbrook, London, 14 June 2023, can be seen here: 

Church Times podcast, featuring the project, with interviews with Silvia, Graham and Tristan, may be heard here: