The latest collection from the Rev. Carolyn Winfrey Gillette offers up new lyrics for Advent and Christmas hymns, exploring issues including racism, immigration and poverty
by Mike Ferguson | Presbyterian News Service
LOUISVILLE — God’s world is changing, says Presbyterian hymn writer the Rev. Carolyn Winfrey Gillette, and her new hymns for Advent and Christmas are designed to, in her words, “help us to make sense of the places where faith and everyday life meet.”
Gillette’s work of more than two decades offering up new lyrics to familiar hymn tunes can be seen here. The new book, “God’s World is Changing: New Hymns for Advent and Christmas,” can be ordered in Kindle or paperback here.
While Presbyterians and other Christians love the familiar hymns of Advent and Christmas, “we need new songs that help us to lift up the new concerns and challenges of our society and our world,” Gillette says in the book’s introduction. “In restless times, hymns are prayers that nudge us to faithful action. In times of both crisis and growth, the hymns of the church inspire us to make the changes we need in our lives.”
She called Advent “a holy time that invites us to change our own lives and our surroundings as we wait for Jesus to change the world.”
“We are called to get busy!” she says. “There is work to be done as we prepare to celebrate Jesus’ birth — and as we anticipate the time when God’s reign will come in all its fullness.”
When we think that Advent is about joyful anticipation followed by “an equally joyful Christmas season, we miss the mark,” Gillette says. “Advent only makes sense when it is a time of repentance, a time of turning away from the things that separate us from God, and a time of turning to God’s ‘Amazing Grace’ in Jesus Christ.”
The songs and hymns of the church “invite us to shake things up, always in a spirit of love, always seeking the best for others, always seeking to bring healing to people and to Creation, in the name of Christ,” Gillette says. “The songs and hymns of the church invite us to change our personal lives, too.”
The hymns are organized by themes for each week during Advent and Christmas. Each comes with a meditation and questions for personal or group reflection. An index includes scriptural references.
Gillette “has produced another exceptional resource for public worship and private daily devotions, this one related to the season of Advent,” said the Rev. Dr. Charles (Buz) Myers, emeritus professor at Gettysburg College. “While Carolyn is a gifted poet and lyricist, her theological training and extensive pastoral experience shine through her hymns and meditations. … Her treatment of issues such as immigration, the environment, racism and poverty in other hymns and meditations makes this volume both timely and timeless. … Whether you read this volume from cover to cover or use it more selectively, you will not be disappointed by ‘God’s World is Changing.’”
“Whether read in solitude or in an online or in-person group, this resource will deepen your engagement with the anticipated coming of the Christ child during the Advent season and inspire you to be Christ’s light for our wounded world today,” said the Rev. Dr. Kathleen M. Black, a United Methodist Church pastor and professor emerita at the Claremont School of Theology.
Learn more about “God’s World is Changing: New Hymns for Advent and Christmas” by going here.
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