Renowned Presbyterian hymn writer Carolyn Winfrey Gillette has written a new hymn for use during the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s “Season of Peace,” Sept. 9-Oct. 7.
Presbyterian Peacemaking Program officials describe the observance as “a four-week pilgrimage designed to deepen the pursuit of peace for congregations, small groups, families and individuals.” The “Season of Peace” culminates in the receiving of the Presbyterian Peacemaking Offering on World Communion Sunday, Oct. 7.
Gillette’s new hymn is entitled “O God, the Things That Make for Peace.” It is set to the tune “Winchester New,” which is also used for several other well-known hymns.
“In August I wrote the hymn hoping that it would support congregations in their peacemaking work, including their efforts to promote and receive the peacemaking offering,” Gillette told the Presbyterian News Service. “I was sorry to hear that support for special offerings has been in decline. I hope that, in a small way, this hymn can help in the effort to reverse that trend.”
Gillette said she was guided by the five-week “Season of Peace” Bible study. “Each verse of the hymn follows one of the five individual sessions in that study,” she said. “In addition to hearing the biblical call for peacemaking, we also see very clearly in our world how much peacemaking efforts are needed,” Gillette added, noting conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Israel/Palestine and others.
Gillette said she and her husband, Bruce, were moved this summer by the commitment of young people to peacemaking. “This summer we went to the Peacemaking Conference at Ghost Ranch, and were inspired once again by all the peacemaking efforts being done by our denomination,” she said. “We were particularly impressed by how many young adults were at the conference, and we were pleased that they were wanting to work through the church to make a difference in the world.”
The hymn also means a lot to Gillette as a mother. “This summer our daughter Sarah worked with inner-city children in what is one of the most violent cities in the United States,” she said. “Early in her work the young children that she was serving wanted to make sure she knew how to hide if shooting started in their neighborhood. We were reminded again about problems of gun violence not far from our home.”
Gillette said she hopes the hymn will spur people to peacemaking action. “Sometimes we are not sure what we can do in the face of violence and injustice,” she said. “The first thing we can do is pray. St. Augustine said that those who sing pray twice. I hope that this hymn can be a prayer for peace that will encourage people to actively work for peace.”
The full text of the hymn:
O God, the Things That Make for Peace
WINCHESTER NEW LM (“On Jordan’s Bank the Baptist’s Cry”)
O God, the things that make for peace
Seem hidden, distant, out of reach.
Our world is violent, bent on war;
Lord, show us peace worth struggling for.
Your peace begins when we embrace
Your Son-- your wondrous gift of grace.
For peace with others surely starts
When we find peace within our hearts.
Yet peace is not a quiet thing,
An inward gift to which we cling.
For Jesus blessed the ones who share
Your peace and justice everywhere.
We thank you that your love extends
Beyond the circle of our friends.
You teach us: Give the stranger bread
And see that enemies are fed.
We long to live your way, O Lord,
To see relationships restored;
May we, in all we say and do,
Seek peace and therefore honor you.
Biblical texts: Luke 19:37-44; Philippians 4:4-7; Romans 5:15; Matthew 5:38-44; Hebrews 13:1-3; Romans 12:13-21; Matthew 5:23-24.
Tune: Musikalisches Handbuch, 1690. Harm. William Henry Monk, 1847.
Text: Copyright © 2012 by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette. All rights reserved.
Web Site: www.carolynshymns.com Email: firstname.lastname@example.org