Author's Note: This hymn is written with gratitude for foster parents, social workers, and others who do seek to do their best for abused and neglected children and youth. It is written as a prayer for the many children and youth who are failed by a broken system that too often ignores their cries and rights. Parts of this hymn, especially, are written as a prayer for one small boy who was our foster son for nineteenth months and is no longer in our care, but who will always be in our hearts. Sojourners' January 2014 issue had several helpful articles on foster parenting.
Lord, Hear the Cries of Children
PASSION CHORALE 188.8.131.52 D (“O Sacred Head, Now Wounded”)
Lord, hear the cries of children who struggle every day,
Caught up in failing systems that steal their hope away.
Some find they’re lost to violence, then lost in foster care.
They long for life’s abundance! Lord, hear their pleading prayer.
Lord, hear the cries of children who find they’re moved along
Through courts and plans and programs where many things go wrong.
Where doors are closed to justice, where children fear, in pain,
Where some are simply processed, Lord, hear their cries again.
Lord, hear the cries of children who long to laugh and dance,
Yet from their very naming, don’t seem to stand a chance.
When people all around them have egos, budgets, plans--
We pray you’ll hear and save them, O God who understands!
Lord, hear the cries of children who simply ask for bread
Yet find the world around them provides a stone instead.
When wars are fully-funded and schools are running bare,
When benefits are ended—Lord, hear your children’s prayer!
Lord, hear the cries of children—and hear the voices, too,
That seek to offer welcome, that seek a world that’s new,
That work to change the system, that sing sweet lullabies.
May we, with love and wisdom, respond to children’s cries.
Biblical Reference: Mark 10:13-16 and James 1:27
Tune: Hans Leo Hassler, 1601, Harm. Johann Sebastian Bach, 1729
Alternative Tune: LLANGLOFFAN Welsh melody from Hymnau a Thonau, by D. Evans, 1865 (“Rejoice, Rejoice, Believers”)
Text: Copyright © 2014 by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette. All rights reserved.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org New Hymns: www.carolynshymns.com
Hymn Use Permission: Churches that support Sojourners have copyright permission to use “Lord, Hear the Cries of Children," in their local church.
Carolyn Winfrey Gillette is the author of Songs of Grace: New Hymns for God and Neighbor (Discipleship Resources/Upper Room Books) and Gifts of Love: New Hymns for Today’s Worship (Geneva Press); she and her husband Bruce serve as the co-pastors of Limestone Presbyterian Church in Wilmington, Delaware after serving churches in NJ for twenty years. Sojourners' past postings by her includes hymns for Human Rights Day, Loving in Truth and Action (I John 3:16-18 ), MaundyThursday/Jesus’ arrest,Palm/Passion Sunday,Ash Wednesday/Social Justice,World Water Day,Blessing of the Animals,relief efforts in the Horn of Africa,September 11th anniversary,creation care,economic justice,Matthew 25/disaster relief,immigration, the Gulf oil spill and war in Iraq. A complete list of the 200+ hymns by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette, many with peace and justice themes, can be found at www.carolynshymns.com.
Image: Little girl resting on her father's shoulder. Via Dina Uretski/Shutterstock.