A hymn-prayer in response to student protests

"A Widow Faced a Justice Test," by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette, reflects on the recent wave of U.S. students protesting the abuse of Palestinians.

a large group of people holding up signs

Photo by Alex Radelich on Unsplash

A Widow Faced a Justice Test
O WALY WALY (“Though I May Speak”)

A widow faced a justice test.
A judge said no; she needed yes.
And so she knocked on power’s door
to seek the rights she struggled for.

A student sat upon the quad,
for war is not the will of God.
One more sat down, then there were two
who sought to build a world made new.

Old ways fought back and shouted, “Cease!”
More students sang and called for peace.
The movement spread; so did the lies.
For calls for peace face grim replies.

Across the world, where power spends
on bombs and guns, a child’s life ends.
Ten thousand die—times three, times four.
while here the young protest the war.

We thank you, God, for Jesus’ word
about a widow who was heard—
and for the old and for the youth
who keep the faith, for love, for truth.

Biblical References: Luke 18:1–8; 19:42-42; Matthew 5:9
Tune: Traditional melody (“Though I May Speak”) (MIDI)
Text: Copyright © 2024 by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette. All rights reserved.
New Hymns:

Permission is granted for free use of this hymn, including online. Please let Carolyn know if you are using it, including sharing it with protestors.

Thank you to Brooke Foster for her article, “Student Encampments Echo Jesus’ Parable of Annoying the Powerful,” Sojourners, May 3, 2024; “What we have to learn from students leading the charge for justice: We need to be the kind of faith and public leaders we want our students to become” by Serene Jones, Religious News Service, April 30, 2024, and for the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship’s “Statement on Campus Protests.”

Carolyn Winfrey Gillette is a Presbyterian pastor and writer of over 400 hymns that are sung by churches around the world, published in over two dozen books (including the forthcoming God Welcomes All by the Church of England and the Church of Scotland), featured on NPR, PBS-TV, Sojourners, Christian Century, The New Yorker and over 16,000 websites. See also her earlier hymn “Now There is War” (December 2023)

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