In 2001, as the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks continued, I became uncomfortably aware of the approach of Christmas, and wondered whether it would be especially difficult this year to sing carols about peace and goodwill, as anger and aggression seemed to have the upper hand. During December I wrote “Carol for the world”, to draw myself and others back to the implications of Jesus’ birth.

Sadly, I think it is still very relevant this year.



Carol for the World 

The northern world grows dark and cold,

the southern bright and warm,

as we prepare to celebrate

our God in human form:

the word that powers the universe

was born a baby here,

in human sight, one holy night

about this time of year.


The eastern world grows dark with hate,

the western world with rage,

and battle fires and funeral pyres

illuminate the stage,

where leaders stalk in pride and power

while people shrink in fear:

what is it worth, a saviour’s birth

about this time of year?


We know it was for peace he came

when angels filled the skies;

can we sing still about goodwill

with wars before our eyes?

We need forgiveness, mercy, grace

and love so strong and clear

as he would show, so long ago,

about this time of year.


No fire from heaven struck Herod down,

or Judas in his day;

no angels killed to save the Christ

when Pilate held his sway.

His victory came through love alone,

and not from sword or spear,

and we are his, whose feast it is

about this time of year.


Though north and south and east and west

the world may call us fools,

we follow him whose life and death

proclaim that his love rules.

It’s hard to fight with love alone

for all that we hold dear.

God says: That’s true: I was there too,

about this time of year.




Sue Gilmurray spent most of her working life as a university librarian, and is now retired and living in Exeter. She has been a keen singer and writer of songs and hymns since schooldays, and for the last 20 years much of her work has been concerned with issues of war and peace.
She has recorded CDs for the APF and The Movement for the Abolition of War. Her song The ones who said No has been sung on International Conscientious Objectors’ Day every year since 2000.
She is also featured in Janet Wootton’s book on women hymn-writers This is our song (Epworth 2010) and Stainer & Bell’s Hymns of hope and healing (2017).

Carol for the World was written by Sue Gilmurray for Christmas 2001. Will fit the tunes of these carols or hymns:O little town of Bethlehem (Forest Green), It came upon the midnight clear (Noel) or I heard the voice of Jesus say (Kingsfold or Vox dilecti).






Disclaimer: This blog is intended to provide a space for people associated with APF to express their own personal views and opinions in order to promote discussion of issues relating to peacemaking and pacifism  It is not necessarily a place where the official views of APF are expressed.


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