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Arizona tragedy prompts release of hymns from Carolyn Gillette

New York, NCC — In the wake of the tragic murders in Tucson Jan. 8 of six people and the wounding of 14 people, including U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, two hymn-prayers are being made available by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette, Presbyterian pastor and hymnist. The following two hymn texts are available for use by churches supporting the National Council of Churches and Church World Service.

God of Mercy, You Have Shown Us


A Hymn Lamenting Gun Violence

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

God of mercy, you have shown us ways of living that are good:
”Work for justice, treasure kindness, humbly journey with the Lord.”
Yet your people here are grieving, hurt by weapons that destroy.
Help us turn to you, believing in your way that brings us joy.

On a street where neighbors gather, shots are heard; a young girl dies.
On a campus, students scatter as the violence claims more lives.
In a family filled with anger, tempers flare and shots resound.
God of love, we weep and wonder at the violence all around.

God, we pray for those who suffer when this world seems so unfair;
May your church be quick to offer loving comfort, gentle care*.
And we pray:  Amid the violence, may we speak your truth, O Lord!
Give us strength to break the silence, saying, “This can be no more!”

God, renew our faith and vision; make us those who boldly lead!
May we work for just decisions that bring true security.
Help us change this violent culture based on idols, built on fear.
Help us build a peaceful future with your world of people here.

Biblical References:  Micah 6:8; Luke 1:79; Romans 12:15; I John 4:16-21; Matthew 5:9
Tune:  The Sacred Harp, 1844.  Harm.  James H. Wood, 1958.
Text:  Copyright © Carolyn Winfrey Gillette, 2009.  E-mail:

*In interfaith worship services, this line may be changed from: “May your church be quick to offer loving comfort, gentle care” to interfaith text: “May we all be quick to offer loving comfort, gentle care.”

This hymn was written at the request of the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program for International Peace Day, September 2009.  The hymn text with music can be downloaded from their Web site:

God, We Have Heard It


God, we have heard it, sounding in the silence:
News of the children lost to this world’s violence.
Children of promise! Then without a warning,
Loved ones are mourning.

Jesus, you came to bear our human sorrow;
You came to give us hope for each tomorrow.
You are our life, Lord God’s own love revealing.
We need your healing!

Heal us from giving weapons any glory;
Help us, O Prince of Peace, to hear your story;
Help us resist the evil all around here;
May love abound here!

By your own Spirit, give your church a clear voice;
In this world’s violence, help us make a new choice.
Help us to witness to the joy your peace brings,
Until your world sings!

Tune:  HERZLIEBSTER JESU by Johann Cruger, 1640 (“Ah, Holy Jesus”).

Text: Copyright © 1999 Carolyn Winfrey Gillette. All rights reserved.  Copied from Gifts of Love:  New Hymns for Today’s Worship by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette (Geneva Press, 2000). E-mail: 

This hymn was written on the day of the shootings at the Columbine High School.
Hymn Use Permission: Churches that support the National Council of Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. and Church World Service have permission to use these hymns. 
Carolyn Winfrey Gillette is the author of Songs of Grace: New Hymns for God and Neighbor (Discipleship Resources/Upper Room Books, 2009) and Gifts of Love: New Hymns for Today’s Worship (Geneva Press, 2000) and the co-pastor of Limestone Church in Wilmington, Del.  A complete list of the 160+ hymns by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette, many with peace and justice themes, can be found at