A hymn written by a Delaware pastor commemorating the nine who were shot and killed in Charleston, South Carolina, has been sung in numerous churches across the nation and even in other countries this past Sunday.
Carolyn Gillette, co-pastor of Limestone Presbyterian Church in Pine Creek, wrote "They Met to Read the Bible," which was released for free online early Saturday morning. Since then, the song received an overwhelming response. Churches across the nation in South Carolina, Boston, California, Maryland, Ohio, Washington, and even in churches globally in Canada, England, and Scotland, have sung the hymn in memory of the lives that had been lost in the recent shooting.
Gillette has written many hymns in the past that are related to national and international events, including those in response to 9/11, the Haiti earthquake, and the Columbine Shooting. Bruce Gillette, Carolyn Gillette's husband, told the New Yorker that an estimated 1,800 churches have performed her hymns.
"It's been said that to preach a good sermon, you should prepare with the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other," Carolyn Gillette told the New Yorker. "I write many of my hymns the same way. I want to help people connect faith and life."
Gillette said that she hopes "They Met to Read the Bible," which follows the tune of "Beneath the Cross of Jesus," would be a way through which churches can pray for and about the shooting.
"It's a prayer for us to grieve with the victims and their families, and it's also a prayer for us to look at how our society needs to change and be more how God wants us to be," Gillette told the Christian Post.
"They Met to Read the Bible"
They met to read the Bible,
They gathered for a prayer,
They worshiped God and shared with friends
And welcomed strangers there.
They went to church to speak of love,
To celebrate God’s grace.
O Lord, we tremble when we hear
What happened in that place.
O God of love and justice,
We thank you for the nine.
They served in their communities
And made the world more kind.
They preached and sang and coached and taught,
And cared for children, too.
They blessed your church and blessed your world
With gifts they used for you.
We grieve a wounded culture
Where fear and terror thrive,
Where some hate others for their race
And guns are glorified.
We grieve for sons and daughters lost,
For grandmas who are gone.
O God, we cry with broken hearts:
This can’t continue on!
God, may we keep on sowing
The seeds of justice here,
Till guns are silent, people sing,
And hope replaces fear.
May seeds of understanding grow
And flourish all our days.
May justice, love and mercy be
The banner that we raise.