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 New Gillette hymn captures the theme and spirit
of the Centennial Gathering in New Orleans

New Orleans, October 29, 2010 -- Hymn writer Carolyn Winfrey Gillette, whose earlier creations have encouraged responsible citizenship or brought the agony of Haiti into liturgical settings, has written a new hymn to capture the theme of the Centennial Gathering here this Nov. 9-11.

Taking up the theme, "Witnesses of these Things, Ecumenical Engagement in a New Era, Gillette's hymn, "O God, in Christ You Call Us," begins:

O God, in Christ you call us to witness to your grace--
To share the life you give us in every time and place.
So many things divide us-- yet we are not our own;
For we belong to Jesus who prayed, "May they be one."

The hymn is sung to the tune of "The Church's One Foundation" (Aurelia 7.6.7.6D)

The Centennial Gathering, which is the General Assembly of the National Council of Churches and Church World Service, will commemorate the 100 years that have passed since the Edinburgh, Scotland, World Mission Conference, an event that is often regarded as the symbolic beginning of the modern ecumenical movement.

The Rev. Carolyn Winfrey Gillette, who with her husband Bruce is co-pastor of Limestone Presbyterian Church in Wilmington, Del., read five vision papers prepared for the gathering before she wrote the new hymn.

The papers seek to define ecumenical engagement in a new era on such topics as war in an age of terrorism, the economy in an age of growing inequality, creation in an age of environmental crisis, mission in an age of interfaith relations and unity in an age of radical diversity.

"Carolyn has neatly captured the message of the gathering in song," said the Rev. Dr. Michael Kinnamon, NCC general secretary. "We will be using this hymn in worship at the Centennial Gathering. We also invite churches to use the hymn in worship services on November 7, the Sunday before the gathering begins."

This Sunday many churches across the country will sing a hymn she wrote in 2004 to put into music the National Council of Churches "Christian Principles in an Election Year." For many, the hymn has become a annual election year tradition. (See http://www.ncccusa.org/061010gillettehymn.html)

Earlier this year Gillette wrote a hymn on the agony of Haiti following the devastating earthquake (http://www.ncccusa.org/news/100115gillettehymn.html). She has also written a hymn, "Abraham Journeyed to a New Country," on the immigrant and refugee experience (http://www.ncccusa.org/immigration/AbrahamJourneyedHymn.html).

O God, in Christ You Call Us
   
AURELIA 7.6.7.6 D (“The Church's One Foundation”) 

O God, in Christ you call us to witness to your grace--
To share the life you give us in every time and place.
So many things divide us-- yet we are not our own;
For we belong to Jesus who prayed, "May they be one."

In Christ is our salvation; in him you’ve set us free--
We make this proclamation in bold humility.
Your image is in others who follow different ways;
Together, seeking justice, we offer you our praise. 

In Christ, we’re bound together; in him we find your peace.
Yet even as we gather, the wounds of war increase.
Where terror brings division, God, make us brave to say
Our churches share a vision of Jesus’ peaceful way. 

In Christ, the poor and hungry are shown they matter, too--
And where your church has plenty, you give us work to do.
Now may we put in practice the faith that we declare,
Seek economic justice, and find new ways to share. 

In Christ, you bless creation and show this planet’s worth;
May every congregation find ways to tend the earth.
Now fill us with your Spirit, that we, as one, may be
A faithful, loving witness to all humanity.


Biblical References:  Luke 24:48; John 17:21; Luke 10:36-37; Matthew 5:9; Luke 4:16-19; and John 3:16 (see many other biblical references in the study papers for Centennial Ecumenical Gathering).

Tune: Samuel Sebastian Wesley, 1864.
Alternate tune:
LLANGLOFFAN  7.6.7.6 D  (“O God of Earth and Altar”)

Welsh Folk Melody, Evans’ Hymnau a Thonau, 1865 as in English Hymnal, 1906.

Text: Copyright © 2010 by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette. All rights reserved.
Email: bcgillette@comcast.net

 Hymn Use Permission: Free use of this hymn is given to any congregation that supports the ecumenical work of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA and/or Church World Service. 

 

Hymn Note onO God, in Christ You Call Us”

 

This hymn was originally written for the Centennial Ecumenical Gathering and General Assembly of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA and Church World Service meeting November 9-11, 2010 in New Orleans based on the theme of the assembly: “Witnesses of These Things: Ecumenical Engagement in a New Era.”  In 1910, church representatives from churches around the world met in Edinburgh, Scotland, for the World Missionary Conference.   “The conference, which brought together missionary, faith and order, social activism and education streams of the churches, is considered the birth of the modern ecumenical movement” (from news story by the National Council of Churches).

 

Hymn Tune:  Margery N. Sly, Deputy Director of the Presbyterian Historical Society was very helpful in doing research on the original hymns sung at the 1910 World Missionary Conference.  Presbyterian Historical Society has the archives for the National Council of Churches and other ecumenical organizations.  The new hymn was written to the tune of AURELIA (“The Church’s One Foundation”) to show continuity with the original meeting.

 

Biblical References in the Hymn:  Scripture references include: Luke 24:48 (“You are witnesses of these things”); John 17:21 (Jesus prays that his followers may be one); Luke 10:36-37 (Jesus commends the “outsider” who cares for one in need); Matthew 5:9 (Jesus blesses the peacemakers); Luke 4:16-19 (Jesus proclaims his ministry, and ours,is with people who are poor); and John 3:16 (“For God so loved the world…”).  Additional biblical references can be found in the vision papers for the Centennial Ecumenical Gathering on crucial concerns of our era: 

  • Christian Understanding of Unity in an Age of Radical Diversity
  • Christian Understanding of Mission in an Age of Interfaith Relations
  • Christian Understanding of War in an Age of Terrorism
  • Christian Understanding of the Economy in an Age of Growing Inequality
  • Christian Understanding of Creation in an Age of Environmental Crisis

 

These vision papers are posted at the Centennial Gathering website, http://www.ncccusa.org/witnesses2010/ga2010studyissues.htm .

 

Hymn Author:  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).  She and her husband Bruce serve as the co-pastors of Limestone Presbyterian Church in Wilmington, Delaware.  A complete list of Carolyn's 160+ hymns can be found at www.carolynshymns.com.  She has previously written hymns for the NCC’s “Christian Principles in an Election Year” (“In Times of Great Decision”), for the relief efforts after the earthquake in Haiti (“In Haiti, There is Anguish”), the oil spill in the Gulf (“O God, the Great, Wide Seas are Yours”), immigration concerns (Abraham Journeyed to a New Country”), the inauguration of Churches United in Christ (“You’ve Called Us Together”) and the 30th anniversary worship service of Habitat for Humanity International.  Church World Service has over 30 of her hunger and justice hymns on the CWS web site, including one that many churches are using on October 31st for the common lectionary’s gospel lesson, “Zacchaeus was a Tax Man.”

For more information contact: Philip E. Jenks, pjenks@ncccusa.org, 212-870-2228; or Lesley Crosson, lcrosson@churchworldservice.org, 212-870-2676

 

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