DAY 43: A Hymn Lamenting Gun Violence

We continue our reflection on God’s call to us through the ELCA’s “60-Day Journey Toward Justice in a Culture of Gun Violence.”

DAY 43: A Hymn Lamenting Gun Violence

“335,609 (I Cried to God)”

I cried to God, “Three hundred thirty thousand!
Five thousand more, six hundred more, and nine!”
In just ten years, a truth we can’t imagine:
All died from guns, one loved one at a time!
And then I heard … “Whom shall I send to grieve them?
Go tell the world: ‘I love them! They are mine!’”

I asked the Lord, “Why is there so much violence?
If you are God, why don’t you stop the pain?
God, won’t you speak? For all around is madness!
Just say the word and make us whole again!”
And then I heard … “Whom shall I send as prophets?
Speak out my truth! Shout till the killings end!”

I knelt and prayed, and wept for all the fallen;
So many lives, so many dreams now gone.
More than a name—each one was someone’s cousin,
Or someone’s child, or someone counted on.
And then I heard … “Whom shall I send, who knew them,
To work for peace, to labor till the dawn?”

“Lord, here am I! And here are we, together!
No one alone can end this killing spree.
The powers of death pit one against another,
Yet you are God and you desire peace.
As mourners, prophets, laborers together,
Give us the strength to make the killings cease.”

The title “335,609 (I Cried to God)” is derived from the statistics for gun-related deaths between 2000 and 2010. Biblical references: Exodus 20:13; Isaiah 6:8; Matthew 25:40.

Tune: Jean Sibelius, 1899 (“Be Still, My Soul”)
Text: Copyright 2015 by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette. All rights reserved.
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Permission is given for free use of this hymn by churches and by ecumenical groups supporting
efforts to end gun violence.

Gillette serves as part-time associate pastor of First Presbyterian Union Church in Owego, N.Y.