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    • Carolyn Winfrey Gillette
    • Carolyn Winfrey Gillette grew up in a family that was, and continues to be, active in the United Methodist Church. She remembers being a very small child and standing on the pew next to her parents and brother in worship, holding a hymnal (before she could even read it), and trying to sing along as the congregation sang the beloved hymns of the Christian faith. Her father was a college English professor until he retired, and both her father and her mother encouraged her to love language and writing.

      Carolyn was confirmed in the United Methodist Church and graduated from Lebanon Valley College in 1982. She received her M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary in 1985. Carolyn met her husband, Bruce Gillette, at Princeton Seminary, and was ordained as a minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA) in 1986. After graduation, they both served churches in New Jersey (Sussex, Andover and Hamburg) for about 19 years—first serving in separate congregations and then as co-pastors. Carolyn also has served as a hospital chaplain and a hospice chaplain. Carolyn started writing hymn texts in 1998 while attending Synod School, a summer church conference of the Synod of the Trinity of the Presbyterian Church (USA). Her husband Bruce has offered plenty of encouragement and support for her hymn writing, and the two have enjoyed working together to share Carolyn's hymns with others both close to home and around the world.

      Carolyn's hymns have been sung by congregations in every state of the USA and in several other countries; they have been on national PBS-TV three times and the BBC-TV in the United Kingdom. Noel Paul Stookey of “Peter, Paul and Mary” made a music video with Emmy winner Pete Staman of Carolyn's hymn, “O God, Our Words Cannot Express,” which was written on September 11th. Her hymns are found on the national websites of the United Methodist Church, Presbyterian Church (USA), American Baptist Churches, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Reformed Church in America, Presbyterian Peace Fellowship, the Souper Bowl of Caring, the National Council of Churches and Church World Service.

      United Methodist Bishop William Boyd Grove and Carolyn were commissioned to write hymns for the inauguration services for Churches Uniting in Christ.

      Carolyn's latest book, Songs of Grace: New Hymns for God and Neighbor, was published by Discipleship Resources/Upper Room Books in 2009. This collection of 77 new hymns to well-known tunes celebrates biblical stories, the church year, and a wide range of church activities, from older adult ministries and stewardship to social justice and many other topics in between. Accompanying each new hymn is a meditation that can be used for personal, family or group devotions.

      Carolyn's first book, Gifts of Love: New Hymns for Today's Worship, is a collection of forty-five of her hymns. Her hymns are also in the new supplements for the Episcopal, Presbyterian and United Church of Canada hymnals. Circuit Rider, The Christian Century, The Presbyterian Outlook, Presbyterians Today, Horizons, Ideas! For Church Leaders, Church & Society, and other magazines have published her hymns.

      Two of her anthems are published by the Choristers Guild.

      Carolyn was commissioned to write the lead article for the special issue on “Singing Our Lives” for Baylor University's Christian Reflection journal. (PDF file)

      Carolyn and her husband Bruce wrote with Dr. Freda Gardner the revised ecumenical guide for the popular Active Parenting Now (third edition). They wrote the study/action guide for Transforming Families (PDF file), World Communion Sunday (PDF file) worship-education resource, and the Christian Family Week worship and educational resource for the Presbyterian Church (USA). The Gillettes support efforts to care for God's creation—they have solar panels on their home and church. They have written A Journey Towards a Green Church (PDF file) (Call to Worship journal) and Shrinking Bills, Growing Membership (PDF file) (Presbyterian Women's national Horizons magazine).

      They are the parents of three children (John, Catherine, and Sarah) and grandparents of Logan. Carolyn has led workshops around the country on hymns, church music, creation care and family ministries.

“…The Peace of Christ be with you… And also with you…”

The peace that we share when we turn and shake hands
Is simply the peace that our Savior commands.

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O Christ, We Remember the Things That You Did

O Christ, we remember the things that you did,
The lessons you taught us, the way that you lived.

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Young Joseph The Dreamer

Young Joseph the dreamer was sent o’er the border —
No say in the matter — it wasn’t his plan.
He entered the country and as he got older,
He worked with ambition to make it his land.

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God, We See in Sacred Story

God, we see in sacred story women suffering silent pain,
Living at the whim and mercy of the ones who troubled them.
What does history know of Dinah? Was she bold and smart and strong?
We just know her as the victim of a most horrendous wrong.

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O God, When Trust is Shattered

This new hymn is in response to the latest news of abuse by clergy; it was written with input from survivors and counselors. The hymn also references Pope Francis’ August 20th letter, using in particular: “If one member suffers, all suffer together with it” (1 Corinthians 12:26). Please share the hymn with priests, pastors, church musicians, counselors, friends and others who might find it helpful. Permission is given for its free use. Prayers, including sung ones, and actions are needed to “Bring healing, love and mercy; Bring justice, God of truth.”

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A new hymn for the World Day of Prayer for Care of Creation

God, you made your good creation and you hold it in your care —
From each starry constellation to each forest under-layer.
Tiny creatures, mountain splendor, rivers, lakes and ocean floors —
You are loving, kind and tender in your care for what is yours.

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“God, Whose Love Is Always Stronger”

God, whose love is always stronger… Than our weakness, pride and fear,
In your world, we pray and wonder… How to be more faithful here.

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