Scripture Verse

We sat down, yea, we wept…we hung our harps upon the willows. Psalm 137:1–2


Words: Car­o­lyn W. Gil­lette, 2003.

Music: Le­o­ni, He­brew me­lo­dy, Sac­red Har­mo­ny, 1780 (🔊 pdf nwc).

Carolyn W. Gillette

Origin of the Hymn

This hymn is ded­i­cat­ed to the mem­o­ry of Shaul La­hav, grand­son of Paul and Hel­en Loeb, who was killed on No­vem­ber 18, 2003 on the road be­tween Beth­le­hem and Je­ru­sa­lem.

Early one Tues­day morn­ing, we got the phone call from two grand­par­ents in our church that their grand­son had been killed in Is­ra­el.

Shaul had been staff­ing a check­point on the road be­tween Beth­le­hem and Je­ru­sa­lem with an­oth­er Is­ra­eli sol­dier. A Pal­es­tin­ian had come tow­ard them with a pray­er rug. Hid­den with­in it was an au­to­ma­tic wea­pon. He killed Shaul and the oth­er sol­dier while the lat­ter was talk­ing on a cell phone to his mo­ther.

My hus­band and co-pas­tor Bruce went over to the Loeb’s house as soon as we got the phone call and prayed with them. Lat­er that day, Bruce took them to the air­port so they could at­tend their grand­son’s fun­er­al in Is­ra­el. The fol­low­ing Sun­day, this hymn was sung in our church, and shared with Shaul’s fa­mi­ly in Is­ra­el.

Because of Bruce’s work in the Pres­by­ter­i­an Church’s Gen­er­al As­sem­bly re­lat­ed to the Mid­dle East, we are very much aware that there are trag­ic kill­ings and suf­fer­ing ex­per­i­enced by all sides, in­clud­ing ma­ny of our fel­low Chris­tians who are Pal­es­tin­i­ans. Loved ones on all sides of con­flicts get those ter­ri­ble phone calls.

As peo­ple of faith, we pray for peace, for a time when wea­pons of war will be trans­formed in­to farm­ing tools and gar­den­ing im­ple­ments, when na­tion­al bud­gets will be used not to kill but to feed and care for peo­ple.

Carolyn Gil­lette, Songs of Grace: New Hymns for God and Neigh­bor (Up­per Room Books, 2009)


Another son is killed,
Another daughter dies,
And loving, waiting homes are filled
With loved ones’ cries.
As rivers never sleep,
So wars flow on and on.
Hang up your harps, sit down and weep
For those now gone!

We grieve for children lost,
For hearts too sad to pray;
We mourn, O Lord, the growing cost
Of hatred’s way.
And sure as threats increase
And anger turns to war,
We pray that we may find a peace
Worth struggling for.

We know your way, O Lord,
For all your people here:
A plowshare from a fighting sword,
A transformed spear!
Now comfort those who grieve,
Be in each saddened home,
And by your grace may we believe—
And seek Shalom.