Celebrating Women’s History Month #11

Hymn Writer Carolyn Winfrey Gillette
by Dean McIntyre

Many churches have used the hymns of Carolyn Winfrey Gillette. Her "In Times of Great Decision" hymn for the November 2004 election was sung by thousands of congregations and featured in a National Council of Churches' news story that was carried by Presbyterian News Service, United Methodist News Service, and the Episcopal News Service, as well as a Religion News Service story that appeared in The Christian Century magazine.

"O God, Our Words Cannot Express," a hymn she wrote on September 11, 2001, was used by thousands of churches, featured on national PBS-TV in the United States and the BBC-TV in the United Kingdom, and made into a music video by Noel Paul Stookey of "Peter, Paul and Mary" and Emmy-winner Pete Staman. Church World Service, the ecumenical humanitarian agency, has a webpage with links to postings of fifteen of her hymns. She was commissioned to write a hymn for the inauguration service for Churches Uniting in Christ. The United Methodist Church promoted her hymn for peace ("God, Whose Love Is Always Stronger") before the war with Iraq. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has sent two of Gillette's hymns to all of their congregations. The American Baptists sang her jubilee hymn at their national meeting. The new Episcopal hymnal supplement contains four of her hymns. Discipleship Resources has published Carolyn’s collection of new hymns with extensive commentary, Songs of Grace: New Hymns for God and Neighbor. The Presbyterian Church (USA)'s Geneva Press has published a book of her hymns titled Gifts of Love: New Hymns for Today's Worship. A complete list of hymns by Carolyn can be found at www.carolynshymns.com.

While Carolyn and her husband Bruce serve as the co-pastors of the Limestone Presbyterian Church in Wilmington, Delaware, Carolyn has deep Methodist roots. She grew up in a Methodist family, and her father was a graduate of Drew Seminary. Carolyn grew up in the Methodist church, and was baptized and confirmed there. She graduated from United Methodist Church-related Lebanon Valley College, and her parents continue to be active members of a United Methodist congregation in Hagerstown, Maryland.

Hymns by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette in Worship & Song:

  • 3045, “Down by the Jordan”
  • 3087, “O Christ, When You Ascended”
  • 3128, “Whatever You Do”

See many more hymns by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette on the Discipleship Ministries website.


See more about Women's History on the Discipleship Ministries site.

Categories: Womens History Month

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