Carolyn Winfrey Gillette is the author of over 400 hymns that have been sung by thousands of congregations around the world, and are found in 20 books and thousands of websites, including www.carolynshymns.com. Many of her hymns are published at Sojourners and are also found in Christian Century magazine, The New Yorker, National Public Radio, and PBS-TV. She and her husband Bruce are Presbyterian ministers who have served congregations in Pennsylvania, Delaware, New York, and New Jersey. View the Sojourners video on Carolyn's hymns here.

Posts By This Author

A Hymn for Children That Need Rescuing

by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette 07-11-2018

Detainees sleep in a holding cell at a U.S. Customs and Border Protection processing facility, in Brownsville, Texas June 18, 2014. REUTERS/Eric Gay/Pool/

When we watch as children who crossed to this land
Are locked in detention as part of some plan,
May we be reminded that you love them, too;
They’re made in your image; they’re precious to you.

When Jesus Went to Egypt: A Hymn for Immigrant Families

by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette 06-12-2018

Image via Reuters//Loren Elliott/

O God, we pray for children
And families coming here
Now facing separation,
And filled with grief and fear.
For children, loved and treasured,
Are ripped from loving kin. 
This deed, by any measure,
Is torture. It’s a sin!

God, We Thank You for the Churches

by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette 02-05-2018

Christ, we thank you for your welcome
that tears walls and borders down,
that gives hope to people fleeing,
that helps churches stand their ground.
For our neighbors, Lord, are asking,
and they’re wondering what we’ll do.
May our churches give them welcome,
and so find we welcome you.

A Hymn of Radical Welcome: As Simon Was Casting His Net in the Water

by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette 02-02-2018

O Lord, as you went to that house to bring healing,
You showed us the heart of God's purpose and plan.
With love and with care, you brought health — so revealing
That lives are made whole by God's word and command.

A Hymn for Those Listening for God's Call

by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette 01-12-2018

May we hear others’ stories — what makes them sad or strong / Till — listening — we find friendship, with love our common song

When Nations Turn Toward Trouble

by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette 11-28-2017
A Hymn for the First Sunday in Advent

When nations turn toward trouble
and hope seems all but gone,
when threats and conflicts double,
what can we count upon?

A Hymn for Sutherland Springs, Texas

by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette 11-10-2017


Brandy Jones prays in front of 26 crosses erected near the site of the shooting at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland, Texas, U.S., November 6, 2017. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
 

Our thoughts and prayers are fleeting breath.

If we just dream of what could be

And do not build community,

And do not seek to change our ways,

Our dreams of change are false displays.

Young Joseph the Dreamer

by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette 09-29-2017
A Hymn for DREAMers

Image via Shutterstock.com/Ververidis Vasilis

We thank you for thousands of sisters and brothers

Who seek education, who love this good land.

For they are a blessing to us and to others;

May we reach to offer a welcoming hand.

O God, We’ve Prayed in Wind and Rain

by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette 09-28-2017
A Hymn for Hurricane Relief

Image via Shutterstock.com/Parilov

We pray for others far away

Who’ve seen destruction, too;

We look beyond ourselves, for they

Are also loved by you.

O Christ, We Remember the Things That You Did

by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette 09-26-2017
A Hymn for Equal Access to Health Care

Image via Shutterstock.com

By the grace of our God, you brought life to the earth;

As you healed those in need, you saw each person’s worth.

May we who proclaim you now answer your call

To bring hope and healing — and health care to all.

We’re Made in the Image: A New Poem for Health Care for All

by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette 07-26-2017

We’re made in the image

The Message expresses,

The Good News attests

That we’re formed out of sod,

That we’re made every one

A Little Bit of Salt

by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette 02-01-2017
A New Hymn for the Church and Immigrants & Refugees

A church that is filled with Jesus’ flavor — and that shares the light of God’s love — can make a profound difference in the world. Pastors, church leaders, and many other loving Christians have been active in welcoming refugees and immigrants, standing up for their rights, contacting their leaders in Congress, protesting unjust policies, and saying clearly that hate has no place in this country.

A New Father, Awe-Struck

by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette 12-22-2016
A New Christmas Hymn

“A New Father, Awe-Struck” is a new hymn-prayer written days before Christmas 2016. It begins with a traditional image of a manger scene, and becomes a prayer that we may look deeper— at our loving God who chose to come into this world as someone who was poor, powerless, in danger, and a refugee.

A Hymn-Prayer for the Election

by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette 11-07-2016
God of All Peoples, Cultures, and Nations

Image via /Shutterstock.com

God, may this time of anger be over; 
May we grow past our current divide. 
Make us as one, as sisters and brothers; 
In this good land, may your love abide. 

A Hymn: For Schoolchildren and All Who Love Them

by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette 09-02-2015

Image via /Shutterstock

Robert Putnam’s new book, Our Kids: The Crisis in the American Dream, laments the decline in social capital (how we are connected to others and care for them) with its devastating impact on poor children today. Past generations of poor children often had more opportunities because they benefited from connections with churches, teachers, coaches, and other mentors who supported them. Putnam, a respected Harvard sociologist, documents how too many children are missing these caring adults in their lives today. He offers "purple solutions" to the growing "opportunity gap" and poverty that includes support by all for public schools.

Many churches witness to their concern for school children with a "Blessing of the Backpacks" service. Some churches invite the children in the congregation to bring their own backpacks for a blessing before a new school year begins. This is a way to acknowledge that school is a common yet very important part of our children’s lives. Other churches collect school supplies for children in need, assemble the donated supplies in backpacks, and bring them to church for a blessing in worship.

The tune of the following new hymn is the same Gaelic melody used for "Morning Has Broken," and it seems appropriate to sing a joyful "morning" tune as children, parents, and teachers start to get up earlier in the mornings to head off to school.

They Met to Read the Bible

by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette 06-21-2015
A Hymn-Prayer Lamenting Charleston Killings, Racism, and Gun Violence

They met to read the Bible, they gathered for a prayer,
They worshiped God and shared with friends and welcomed strangers there.
They went to church to speak of love, to celebrate God’s grace.
O Lord, we tremble when we hear what happened in that place.

A New Hymn on Jesus’ Protest: When Christ Went to the Temple

by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette 03-11-2015
Photo via Renata Sedmakova / Shutterstock.com

A painting of Jesus using a whip in the temple. Giovanni Antonio Fumiani, 1678. Photo via Renata Sedmakova / Shutterstock.com

When Christ Went to the Temple

LLANGLOFFAN 7.6.7.6 D (“Rejoice, Rejoice, Believers”)

When Christ went to the Temple to worship God one day,

He entered through the courtyard where anyone could pray.

That court was for the nations--and all could enter in.

But Jesus found a market, a shameful robbers’ den.

 

There, cattle, sheep, and pigeons were sold for sacrifice,

And moneychangers shouted of quality and price.

Outsiders could not enter the inner courts for prayer.

Their only place to worship was in the courtyard there.

...

A New Hymn-Prayer for Donor Sabbath

by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette 11-14-2014
CebotariN / Shutterstock.com

CebotariN / Shutterstock.com

From the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:

The Need Is Real: You can literally be a lifesaver by being an organ donor. Here are some important facts about donation:

• Someone is added to the waiting list every 10 minutes. Over 120,000 people are waiting for organ donations.

• Each day, an average of 79 people receive organ transplants. However, an average of 18 people die each day waiting for transplants that can't take place because of the shortage of donated organs.

• People of every age give and receive organ donations.

Hymn writer Carolyn Winfrey Gillette has been a chaplain for a hospital and several hospices. She is grateful for suggestions for this hymn from her husband Bruce Gillette (he has served on a hospital ethics committee), hospital Chaplains Tim Rodden and Sister Julian Wilson and ethicist Christian Iosso. This hymn is dedicated to the memory of Roy Timmer, a faithful Christian, a wonderful friend and an organ donor who helped many people.

God, Each Day You Give is Precious

A Hymn for Donor Sabbath

A New Hymn for Sunday: Rendering to Caesar and to God

by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette 10-17-2014
Bronze coin of Emperor Augustus, who ruled 27BC-14AD. Image courtesy I. Pilon/sh

Bronze coin of Emperor Augustus, who ruled 27BC-14AD. Image courtesy I. Pilon/shutterstock.com

“Is It Lawful to Pay Taxes?”  

“Is it lawful to pay taxes when they prop up Caesar’s rule?”  

So some people asked of Jesus, wanting him to seem a fool.  

Saying “no” would be sedition; saying “yes” would be a sin.  

Jesus changed the conversation, calling them to look within.      

 

“Find a tax coin in your treasure; see the image that it bears.  

Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s. (Give to rulers what is theirs.)”  

Yet he pressed on with his message; “Give to God what is God’s own.”  

We who bear our Maker’s image worship God and God alone.  

A New Hymn for Sunday: 'Once a Father Told His Children'

by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette 09-26-2014
Oleg Kozlov / Shutterstock.com

Oleg Kozlov / Shutterstock.com

A Hymn for This Sunday

This hymn by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette asks the question what does it mean to be a Christian, a church? Whom do we serve? How shall we respond to those in need? It is based on the lectionary passage Matthew 21:23-32 (September 28, 2014). The United Methodist Worship Office has formatted the hymn with the music as a free download.

Once a Father Told His Children

NETTLETON 8.7.8.7 D (“Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing”)

Once a father told his children, 
“Go and do your daily chores.

Go and work out in my vineyard; 
All that’s mine will soon be yours.”

One responded, “I won’t do it!” 
Then he changed his mind and went.

One said, “Yes! Just send me to it!” 
But he went back home again.

...