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.