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PC(USA) hymnwriter celebrates resourceful Hebrew midwives and laments the dangers immigrants face

The Rev. Carolyn Winfrey Gillette’s ‘There Came a Time in Egypt’ expands on Sunday’s lectionary passage

by Mike Ferguson | Presbyterian News Service

The Rev. Carolyn Winfrey Gillette at Presbyterian House at the Chautauqua Institution. (Contributed photo)

LOUISVILLE — Ahead of Sunday’s lectionary reading about the resourcefulness of Hebrew midwives Shiphrah and Puah, Presbyterian hymnwriter the Rev. Carolyn Winfrey Gillette offers free of charge to any faith community while worshiping “There Came a Time in Egypt,” a hymn to the tune of “The Church’s One Foundation” that also “relates the kindness that we should share with refugees and immigrants to the holy disobedience of the Egyptian midwives to the orders of Pharaoh,” as Gillette puts it.

Click the link above to hear David Widder-Varhegyi, an actor and tenor from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, sing, “There Came a Time in Egypt,” which Gillette wrote last week while serving as the chaplain at the Presbyterian House at the Chautauqua Institution.

The final verse of “There Came a Time in Egypt” speaks to the current immigration crisis. Her most recent hymn is the 25th she has written supporting churches helping immigrants.

There Came a Time in Egypt

AURELIA D (“The Church’s One Foundation”)

There came a time in Egypt when Joseph wasn’t known —
when people had forgotten the seeds of help he’d sown.
With immigrants increasing, the leaders lived in fear.
That fear turned into murmuring: “We do not want them here!”

The rulers told the midwives, “Don’t let their numbers grow.”
But Shiphrah said, with Puah, a quiet, faithful, “No!”
When they were tasked with killing, they saved the baby boys.
God, may we, too, be willing to challenge what destroys.

O God, you sent us Jesus who said, “Take up your cross!”
He taught that faithful living will often have a cost.
He taught us to be daring, creative, wise and strong —
to make the world more caring, to challenge what is wrong.

When immigrants are struggling, when children live in fear,
when forces of destruction are threatening people here,
God, make us like those women, and may we seek to be
the ones who usher life in, till all are whole and free.

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