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New hymn speaks to missing out on a traditional Easter celebration

Published a week ago, Carolyn Winfrey Gillette’s ‘This Easter Celebration’ has been translated into five languages, shared 13,000 times

by Mike Ferguson | Presbyterian News Service

To help Christians as they prepare to celebrate Easter apart from their worshiping communities, Presbyterian pastor and lyricist Carolyn Winfrey Gillette has written “This Easter Celebration.” (Contributed photo)

LOUISVILLE — Presbyterian pastor and lyricist the Rev. Carolyn Winfrey Gillette has written new lyrics to the tune “The Church’s One Foundation” that speaks to Christians who are about to miss out on their traditional Easter celebration.


“This Easter Celebration” includes worship realities now familiar to people of faith: empty sanctuaries, choirs silenced, people worshiping alone or in small groups, staring at their phones, tablets or computers.


“With sanctuaries empty, may homes become the place

we ponder resurrection and celebrate your grace,” Winfrey Gillette wrote.


Placed online March 31 by her husband, the Rev. Bruce Gillette, “This Easter Celebration” has already been translated into Cantonese, Norwegian, Rwandan, Spanish and Swedish. It’s been seen by nearly 791,000 people and shared more than 13,000 times. Click here to hear a version by the Rev. Casey Carbone, a Presbyterian pastor.


This Easter Celebration

AURELIA D (“The Church’s One Foundation,” Hymn 321 in “Glory to God”)


This Easter celebration is not like ones we’ve known.

We pray in isolation, we sing the hymns alone.

We’re distant from our neighbors — from worship leaders, too.

No flowers grace the chancel to set a festive mood.


No gathered choirs are singing; no banners lead the way.

O God of love and promise, where’s joy this Easter Day?

With sanctuaries empty, may homes become the place

we ponder resurrection and celebrate your grace.


Our joy won’t come from worship that’s in a crowded room

but from the news of women who saw the empty tomb.

Our joy comes from disciples who ran with haste to see—

who heard that Christ is risen, and then, by grace, believed.


In all the grief and suffering, may we remember well:

Christ suffered crucifixion and faced the powers of hell.

Each Easter bears the promise: Christ rose that glorious day!

Now nothing in creation can keep your love away.


We thank you that on Easter, your church is blessed to be

a scattered, faithful body that’s doing ministry. 

In homes and in the places of help and healing, too,     

we live the Easter message by gladly serving you.


Tune: Samuel Sebastian Wesley, 1864

Text: Copyright © 2020 by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette. 


New Hymns:


Carolyn Winfrey Gillette is a part-time parish associate at First Presbyterian Union Church in Owego, New York, a small town in the Finger Lakes. She has served churches in New Jersey, Delaware and Pennsylvania and has been a chaplain at two hospitals and several hospices. She grants free use of the hymn to everyone, including streaming online.

Creative_Commons-BYNCNDYou may freely reuse and distribute this article in its entirety for non-commercial purposes in any medium. Please include author attribution, photography credits, and a link to the original article. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDeratives 4.0 International License.

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