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O God, We Long for Better Days (hymn)

A new hymn for Advent-Christmas during the COVID-19 pandemic

“O God, We Long for Better Days” is a new hymn for use before and after Christmas. Churches are welcome to use it for free. Congregations may wish to share it with members who are staying at home and are granted permission to use it in online worship services.

O God, We Long for Better Days
GREENSLEEVES with refrain (“What Child Is This?”)

O God, we long for better days when we can be together,
to celebrate your love and grace in Jesus Christ our Savior.
We long for Silent Night in crowded pews, by candlelight.
May we who stay at home now find your Christmas blessing.

We long to come and Deck the Halls this year — like many others.
Yet all around we hear the calls of countless, hurting neighbors.
This year, in quiet ways, we’ll pray and serve and fill our days.
May we who stay at home now find your Christmas blessing.

We’ll still, with Christian Friends, Rejoice, by phone, or by our zooming.
We’ll ponder here: What Child is This? — and seek A Rose, Eer Blooming.
We’ll love and serve and give; we’ll live as Christ taught us to live.
May we who stay at home now find your Christmas blessing.

We long to feast and celebrate with family, friends, and neighbors.
Yet this can be our gift — to wait, until the times are better.
Still, Still, you give us joy — a love that death cannot destroy.
May we who stay at home now find your Christmas blessing.

Tune: Traditional English melody (“What Child Is This?”)
Text: Copyright © 2020 by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette. All rights reserved.

This hymn prayer acknowledges the grief that many Christians are feeling as they stay at home from cherished gatherings, including Christmas Eve worship services, for their safety and for the safety of others.

The hymn makes reference to six beloved Christmas carols. It is a reminder of the gospel message that God’s love is stronger than death, and that we are called to love and serve our neighbors even in these difficult times.  In a recent interview, Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, encouraged Christians to worship at home as a way to love our neighbors.

“O God, We Long for Better Days” is offered for free use by churches and can also be shared in pastoral emails, in church newsletters, on Facebook and on church websites for personal reflection.  Health professionals and scientists in church and community might appreciate being given a copy of the hymn as an example of the church seeking to support their work.

A video of the hymn sung by by Presbyterian pastor Casey Carbone, which may be used in local church settings, is posted on YouTube.

Philip Hart, a professional singer-songwriter in Columbus, Ohio, also provides a recording on YouTube that churches can use in worship services.

Carolyn Winfrey Gillette
Carolyn Winfrey Gillette

Carolyn Winfrey Gillette has written over 400 hymns, including many for Advent and Lent, that have been shared by the Presbyterian Outlook, and published in two dozen books — including “Gifts of Love,” “Songs of Grace” and the new Mennonite hymnal. She and her husband Bruce serve with the First Presbyterian Union Church in Owego, New York.