View this website in / Ver este sitio web en:

Hymns on Immigrants and Immigration Reform

by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette

Carolyn Winfrey Gillette has written several hymns about immigrants. Permission is given for free use of these hymns for local church use by those supporting efforts to help immigrants and immigration reform now. We are always happy to recommend her hymns which often address justice issues. We encourage you to sign up for her regular emails. Email: [email protected]  New Hymns:

Abraham Journeyed to a New Country
BUNESSAN D   (“Morning Has Broken”)
Abraham journeyed to a new country;
Sarah went with him, journeying too.
Slaves down in Egypt fled Pharaoh’s army;
Ruth left the home and people she knew.
Mary and Joseph feared Herod’s order;
Soldiers were coming! They had to flee.
Taking young Jesus, they crossed the border;
So was our Lord a young refugee.
Some heard the promise—God’s hand would bless them!
Some fled from hunger, famine and pain.
Some left a place where others oppressed them;
All trusted God and started again.
Did they know hardship?  Did they know danger?
Who shared a home or gave them some bread?
Who reached a hand to welcome the stranger?
Who saw their fear and gave hope instead?
God, our own families came here from far lands;
We have been strangers, “aliens” too.
May we reach out and offer a welcome
As we have all been welcomed by you.
Biblical references:  Genesis 12, Ruth 1; Matthew 2:13-16, 25:31-46; Hebrews 13:2; Leviticus 19:18, 33-34
Tune:  Gaelic melody  (PCUSA has this hymn with the music as free PDF download)
Text:  Copyright © 2010 Carolyn Winfrey Gillette.  All rights reserved.
Email:  [email protected]  See also

Hymn Note for “Abraham Journeyed to a Far Country”
Text:  Throughout the Bible, we see stories of immigrants—people called to settle in new lands and begin new lives for a variety of reasons, people who trusted in God’s protection along the way.  Abraham and Sarah heard God’s promise of a new land.  Exodus is the story of God’s people being led from slavery to the freedom of the Promised Land.  Later, Ruth went with Naomi, her mother-in-law, because her love of family led her to take risks and leave the home she knew for a new home.  Jesus himself was a refugee in Egypt when his parents had to flee from Herod for his safety.   Jesus taught that one of the greatest commandments is to love our neighbors; these neighbors include foreigners (Luke 10:25-37 with references to Leviticus 19:18, 33-34).  He also taught that all people will be judged on their compassion for those in need and their welcome of strangers (Matthew 25:31-46).  Today, people are immigrants for many of the same reasons that these biblical people were.  The Church is called to follow the Bible’s teachings by welcoming and supporting immigrants today.
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, 2009) and Gifts of Love: New Hymns for Today's Worship (Geneva Press, 2000) and the co-pastor of Limestone Presbyterian Church in Wilmington, Delaware. This congregation includes first generation immigrants from Brazil, England, Ghana, India, Scotland and South Africa, Trinidad and provided space for a Ghanaian Presbyterian Fellowship for five years.  A complete list of Carolyn’s 200+ hymns can be found at

The Children Come
FINLANDIA  (“This Is My Song”)
The children come, not sure where they are going;
Some little ones have seen their siblings die.
They’ve traveled north—a tide that keeps on growing,
A stream of life beneath the desert sky.
Their welcome here?  Detention, overflowing.
O Lord of love, now hear your children’s cry!
The children come in search of something better;
They’ve traveled here with nothing in their hands.
On one boy’s belt, a number carved in leather
Leads to a phone, a brother here, a plan.
They come alone—or sometimes band together;
They bring a plea that we will understand.
O Christ our Lord, you welcomed in the stranger;
You blessed the children, telling them to stay.
Be in the desert, with the tired and injured;
Be at the border where they are afraid.
Be on each bus where children sense the danger,
As angry crowds are shouting, “Go away!”
God, let each one know justice, peace and welcome—
And may your gift of mercy start with me.
For unto such as these belongs your kingdom,
And in each child, it is your face we see.
May we, your church, respond in truth and action,
And with you, Lord, say, “Let them come to me.”
Biblical references:  Matthew 25:31-46; 19:14-16
Tune:  Jean Sibelius, 1899 (“Be Still, My Soul”).
Text:   Copyright © 2014 by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette.  All rights reserved
New Hymns:  Email:  [email protected]
See Hymn Note for “The Children Come

God, How Can We Comprehend?
ABERYSTWYTH D ("Jesus, Lover of My Soul"; "Watchman, Tell Us of the Night")

God, how can we comprehend — though we've seen them times before —

Lines of people without end fleeing from some senseless war?

They seek safety anywhere, hoping for a welcome hand!

Can we know the pain they bear? Can we ever understand?
You put music in their souls; now they struggle to survive.

You gave each one gifts and goals; now they flee to stay alive.

God of outcasts, may we see how you value everyone,

For each homeless refugee is your daughter or your son.
Lord, your loving knows no bounds; you have conquered death for all.

May we hear beyond our towns to our distant neighbors' call.

Spirit, may our love increase; may we reach to all your earth,

Till each person lives in peace; till your world sees each one's worth.
Biblical Reference: Matthew 25:31-46

Tune: Joseph Parry, 1879 ("Jesus, Lover of My Soul"; "Watchman, Tell Us of the Night")  (MIDI)
Text: Copyright © 1999 by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette. All rights reserved.

Copied from Gifts of Love: New Hymns for Today's Worship by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette (Geneva Press, 2000).

Peacemaker Fair Trade Project Meet Our Members Donate to BPFNA Buy Resources