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 web sites, 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.

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A New Hymn for Human Rights Day

by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette 12-10-2012
Photo: Human rights illustration, © KamiGami / Shutterstock.com

Photo: Human rights illustration, © KamiGami / Shutterstock.com

Carolyn Winfrey Gillette wrote this hymn in celebration of Human Rights Day (December 10), the anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Seven years later, on Dec. 5, 1955, the Montgomery Bus Boycott began with 40,000 African-Americans walking, bicycling or car-pooling to pressure the bus company for change. The boycott ended in victory after 381 days. December is a good month to remember past work for justice and to work for it today as we celebrate the one who came “to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace" (Luke 1:79).

A New Hymn for Justice

by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette 06-20-2012
Statue photo, Andre Helbig / Shutterstock.com

Statue photo, Andre Helbig / Shutterstock.com

Carolyn Winfrey Gillette wrote this hymn based on Micah 6:8 after attending Bread for the World’s Lobby Day on June 12th and reading Jim Wallis’ “The Missing Religious Principle in Our Budget Debates.”

               O God, You Call for Justice

AURELIA   7.6.7.6 D   ("The Church's One Foundation")

O God, you call for justice—for goodness, never greed!

You seek a world of fairness where all have what they need—

Where all have food and water and homes in which to thrive,

Where all have hope and laughter and joy to be alive!

Loving in Truth and Action: A New Hymn based on I John 3:16-18

by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette 04-23-2012
Crown of thorns and nails,  nito / Shutterstock.com

Crown of thorns and nails, nito / Shutterstock.com

“We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us--and we ought to lay down our lives for one another. How does God's love abide in anyone who has the world's goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help?  Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.” 

On April 29th, many churches will be hearing this reading from I John 3:16-24 as the Epistle Lesson for the Revised Common Lectionary for the Fourth Sunday of Easter/Year B.  Here is a new hymn inspired by this biblical teaching for compassion.

A New Hymn for Holy Week: Jesus’ Ways for Peace

by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette 04-01-2012
"The Agony in the Garden" by Paul Gaugin, 1889. Via Getty Images.

"The Agony in the Garden" by Paul Gaugin, 1889. Via Getty Images.

Holy Week and Jesus’ Ways for Peace

Palm Sunday/Passion Sunday and the week that follows — Holy Week — are times for Christians to remember and share the biblical stories of Jesus’ teachings and actions for peace. These stories encourage us to pray and work for peace, especially in light of those who are now threatening a new war with Iran. “Nine Years of War in Iraq: A Sojourners Retrospective” is a powerful reminder that churches need to do more.

Last year Sojourners posted a new hymn for Palm Sunday with peace themes, “Lord, What a Parade!” by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette.

This year the Black Mountain Presbyterian Church in North Carolina commissioned Carolyn to write a new hymn about Jesus’ nonviolent actions and compassion at the time of his arrest.

A New Hymn for World Water Day

by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette 03-22-2012
Photo courtesy of Living Waters for the World.

Photo courtesy of Living Waters for the World.

This Thursday, March 22nd, is World Water Day. The April 2012 issue of Sojourners includes Ched Myers’ 'Everything Will Live Where the River Goes', a Bible study on water, God, and redemption.

The following hymn celebrates our need for clean water and the Living Water:

Once a Woman Seeking Water

BEACH SPRING 8.7.8.7. D (“God, Whose Giving Knows No Ending”)

Once a woman seeking water at a well not far from home

Met a thirsty, waiting stranger from a people not her own.

Would she give a drink of water and respond to human need?

Could she know the joy and wonder she, the giver, would receive?...

A New Hymn for Ash Wednesday

by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette 02-17-2012
Ash Wednesday ashes. Image via Wylio, http://bit.ly/zWZxhw.

Ash Wednesday ashes. Image via Wylio, http://bit.ly/zWZxhw.

This coming Wednesday, Febr. 22, is Ash Wednesday. The following new hymn is based on the Revised Common Lectionary’s assigned reading of Isaiah 58:1-12 with its social justice themes.

            O God of Love, the Fast You Choose

  KINGSFOLD CMD (“Today We All Are Called to Be Disciples”)

O God of love, the fast you choose is not some great display.

It’s everything we gladly do to serve you day by day.

It’s not a moment set apart when we will mourn our sin;

For you require a change of heart—  a change from what has been....

A New Matthew 25 Hymn: "O God, We Yearn For Safety"

by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette 11-11-2011
Stained glass church window depicting the Parable of the Talents from Matthew 25

Stained glass church window depicting the Parable of the Talents from Matthew 25.

The Sunday, Nov. 13 lectionary gospel is Jesus’ Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30). 

Kari Jo Verhulst, in Sojourners, reflected on Jesus’ challenging teaching: “The point is not to perfect our particular gifts, or ourselves, but to quit hoarding ourselves from others, and instead step out in faith that we have been given all we need.” 

The following new hymn affirms that Jesus’ parable calls us to faithfulness even when it involves risk and challenge today.

O God, we yearn for safety; We long to be secure.

Yet faithful, loving service Is what you value more.

You give us what is needed; You love, forgive and save.

Then, sending us to serve you, You call us to be brave.

You give to some ten talents—to others, two or three;

To some you give one blessing To manage faithfully. ...

A Hymn for Blessing the Animals: "O God, Your Creatures Fill the Earth"

by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette 10-02-2011

animal blessingThis weekend and on St. Francis Day (Oct. 4) some churches are having services for the blessing of animals. The following new hymn can be used.

A Hymn for Somalia

by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette 08-24-2011

[Editors' note: Below is a hymn written by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette to inspire churches to further support and pray for famine relief in Somalia.]

O God, You Love the Needy
7.6.7.6 D LLANGLOFFAN ("Rejoice, Rejoice, Believers")

O God, you love the needy and care for all the poor!
Today our hearts are heavy with news of drought and war.
When plantings yield no harvest, when hungry people die,
When families flee, defenseless -- Lord, hear your people's cry!

Hymns for September 11

by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette 08-15-2011

Many people remember "O God, Our Words Cannot Express," a hymn written on the afternoon of September 11, 2001. The hymn was quickly shared by email and Web postings (it is still on over 10,000 websites); it was used by many churches on that evening and in the days that followed. The hymn was featured in newspaper stories, radio programs, twice on national PBS-TV, and on BBC-TV in the United Kingdom. YouTube has the Church World Service music video by Emmy winner Pete Staman of this hymn being sung by Noel Paul Stookey (of "Peter, Paul & Mary") with the Northfield Mount Herman School Choir.

The new posting of this interfaith hymn includes a revised version for the 10th anniversary. Also included is "God, We've Known Such Grief and Anger", a hymn lifting up Christian hope in the face of disaster that was written for the first year anniversary of 9/11. Last week I wrote a new hymn for the tenth anniversary of September 11 with an emphasis on working for peace and justice for all.

A Hymn Celebrating God's Creation

by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette 06-14-2011
This hymn was originally used for the dedication of the 180 solar panels on the sanctuary of Limestone Presbyterian Church in Wilmington, Delaware where I am the co-pastor.

Lord, What a Parade!: A Hymn for Palm Sunday

by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette 04-15-2011
[Editors' note: Below is a hymn written by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette to celebrate Palm Sunday.

God, We Have Heard It: A Hymn Lamenting Gun Violence

by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette 01-10-2011

[Editors' note: Below is a hymn written by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette lamenting gun violence. We hope you find it helpful in light of the shootings in Arizona.]

 

A Hymn for Economic Justice: 'Zacchaeus was a Tax Man'

by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette 10-29-2010
Many people grew up enjoying the song, "Zacchaeus was a wee little man," celebrating this beloved story of Jesus and a tax collector.

Hymn for Pakistan: "Whatever You Do"

by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette 08-24-2010
This hymn can be a helpful one for churches seeking to support the relief efforts in Pakistan.

A Hymn of Welcome for Immigrants: 'Abraham Journeyed to a New Country'

by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette 07-23-2010
Throughout the Bible, we see stories of immigrants -- people called to settle in new lands and begin new lives for a variety

A Hymn and Prayer for the Gulf: 'O God, the Great, Wide Seas are Yours'

by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette 05-11-2010
This hymn-prayer was written in response to the ongoing oil spill from the Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling rig that started on April 20th.