Carolyn Winfrey Gillette is the author of over 300 hymns that have been sung by thousands of congregations around the world, and are found in 18 books and thousands of web sites, including www.carolynshymns.com which includes seven other hymns about refugees. 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 started serving as the co-pastors of Overbrook Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, Penn., in April 2017 after previously serving congregations in Delaware and New Jersey.
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A Hymn for Sutherland Springs, Texas
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
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
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 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
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
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
“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
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
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
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.
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