Words: Carolyn Winfrey Gillette, 2015
Music: tune, BUNESSAN, Gaelic melody, arrangement by Dean McIntyre, 2013
Scriptures: Deuteronomy 6:4-7; Psalm 25:4,5; 78:5b-6; Mark 10:13-16; Matthew 18:5-6; 28:20
Topics: learning; education; teaching; children; youth; back-to-school
"God of All Learning" is a hymn for a “Blessing of the Backpacks” service. Blessing of the Backpacks has become a way for churches and congregations to recognize the importance of education and back-to-school in the lives of the young people. Many invite children to bring their own backpacks for a blessing before the new school year begins.
Photo, bio, contact information and links to other hymns by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette at http://www.umcdiscipleship.org/resources/gillette-carolyn-winfrey. A complete list of her 250+ hymns can be found at www.carolynshymns.com.
Hymn Note for "God of All Learning" by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette
Text: "God of All Learning" is a hymn for a “Blessing of the Backpacks” service. Some churches invite the children in the congregation to bring their own backpacks for a blessing before a new school year begins. This is a way to acknowledge that school is a common yet very important part of our children’s lives. Other churches collect school supplies for children in need, then bring the donated supplies— assembled into backpacks— for a blessing in worship. The hymn tune is the one that is used for "Morning Has Broken," and it seems appropriate to sing a joyful "morning" hymn tune when it is once again time for children, parents, and teachers to get up earlier in the mornings to head off to school.
The first two verses are specifically for the blessing of the backpacks, and a church may simply want to use these as a shorter hymn-prayer at that special time in the service. The last two verses, for children, for all who are working for children's well-being, and for teachers and those who work in schools, may be added to make this a full-length hymn for education.
Tune: The hymn tune, Bunessan, is a traditional Gaelic melody that was originally associated with the 19th century Christmas carol, "Child in a Manger,” by Mary Macdonald. When the Gaelic hymn was translated into English, the melody was named after the small village on the Scottish island of Mull by the translator, Lachlan Macbean. Eleanor Farjeon wrote a new hymn to this tune, "Morning Has Broken," that was published in 1931.
Author: Carolyn Winfrey Gillette is the author of Songs of Grace: New Hymns for God and Neighbor (Discipleship Resources/Upper Room Books)-- and Gifts of Love: New Hymns for Today's Worship (Geneva Press). Carolyn and her husband Bruce serve as the co-pastors of Limestone Presbyterian Church in Wilmington, Delaware, they are the parents of three children and also have been foster parents. Carolyn has volunteered as a mentor for children in two schools. Her hymns are sung by many congregations, posted on thousands of web sites, published in a dozen books, featured on national PBS-TV three times and most recently in The New Yorker magazine. A complete list of Carolyn’s 250+ hymns can be found at www.carolynshymns.com