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NCC's 'Christian Principles in an Election Year' Inspire New Hymn

Download this new hymn! Permission is granted to congregations and ecumenical gatherings for free one-time use; see below regarding multiple uses.  Click here for:

October 19, 2004, NEW YORK CITY - The National Council of Churches’ “Christian Principles in an Election Year” have inspired a new hymn - “In Times of Great Decision,” by the Rev. Carolyn Winfrey Gillette, whose hymns are sung in a wide variety of denominational and ecumenical settings.

Carolyn Winfrey GilletteThe Rev. Gillette and her husband, the Rev. Bruce Gillette, are co-pastors of Limestone Presbyterian Church, Wilmington, Delaware, where they moved two months ago after 10 years of service together at the First Presbyterian Church in Pitman, N.J.

“Bruce found the principles on the Web, and he said, ‘You know what? This would make a really neat hymn,” said the Rev. Carolyn Winfrey Gillette. She agreed, commenting, “The principles are very biblical, and express the faith we believe, have passed down and try to follow. And they bring focus to what we feel is important in this election.

“Some people say we should separate the ‘political’ and ‘religious’ sides of life, but I believe we are supposed to carry our faith convictions into the way we vote and the way we choose our leaders,” she said.

The NCC’s “Christian Principles in an Election Year” apply well-established ecumenical principles to both domestic and foreign policy issues, and address issues of war, poverty, immigration, education, health care, racial justice, distress in U.S. inner cities and rural communities, the environment and the criminal justice system.

They urge domestic policies that build “communities shaped by peace and cooperation” and a foreign policy “based on cooperation and global justice.” The NCC says it hopes all persons of faith - whether liberal or conservative in their views - will study the principles and use them as they evaluate candidates for public office.

Since mid-July, when they were posted to the NCC Web site, more than 12,000 copies of the principles and related study questions have been downloaded and duplicated by the thousands for congregational and individual use.

The Rev. Gillette said that she enjoyed taking the 10 principles - written to speak more to the “head” - and capturing their essence in a four-verse hymn.

“When you write a hymn, you have to think a little differently and use phrases that speak more to the heart,” she said. “To me, a hymn is always a prayer. It can have depth, content and theological integrity, but it is always a prayer.”

Many churches have used the Rev. Gillette’s hymns. “O God, Our Words Cannot Express”, a hymn she wrote on September 11, 2001, was used by thousands of churches, featured on national PBS-TV in the United States and the BBC-TV in the United Kingdom, and made into a music video by Noel Paul Stookey of “Peter, Paul and Mary” and Emmy-winner Pete Staman. Church World Service, the humanitarian agency, has a Web page with links to postings of 15 of her hymns. She was commissioned to write a hymn for the inauguration service for Churches Uniting in Christ.

The United Methodist Church promoted her hymn for peace (“God, Whose Love is Always Stronger”) before the war with Iraq. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has sent one of Gillette’s hymns to all of their congregations. The American Baptists sang her jubilee hymn at their national meeting. The new Episcopal hymnal supplement has four of her hymns in it. The Presbyterian Church (USA)’s Geneva Press has published a book of her hymns titled “Gifts of Love: New Hymns for Today’s Worship.”

The Rev. Gillette is granting free one-time use of “In Times of Great Decision” to congregations and ecumenical gatherings, and request a donation to the National Council of Churches - - or to Church World Service - - for multiple uses. Permissions and other questions may be directed to the Gillettes at

The full text of the hymn follows. 

* * * *

In Times of Great Decision

In times of great decision, Be with us, God, we pray!
Give each of us a vision Of Jesus’ loving way.
When louder words seem endless And other voices sure,
Remind us of your promise: Your love and truth endure.

O God, whose gifts are countless, You send us bearing peace.
You fill our dreams with justice For all communities.
You give us global neighbors That all may justly live.
May those we choose as leaders Reflect the life you give.

O God, you bridged the distance; You opened wide your door.
You call us by our presence To reach to serve the poor.
You teach us: Welcome strangers! Seek justice on the earth!
May those we choose as leaders See every person’s worth.

You call on every nation To put aside all greed,
To care for your creation And for your ones in need,
To care for those in prison, For children, for the ill.
In times of great decision, may we choose leaders well.

* * * *

The new hymn’s suggested tune is Samuel Sebastian Wesley’s AURELIA D ("The Church's One Foundation") or Welsh folk melody LLANGLOFFAN (“O God of Every Nation”).


NCC Media Contact: Carol Fouke-Mpoyo, 212-870-2252;

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