Annabeth McClelland Gay

Annabeth McClelland Gay
Short Name: Annabeth McClelland Gay
Full Name: Gay, Annabeth McClelland, 1925-
Birth Year: 1925
Death Year: 2020

Annabeth McClelland Gay was born in 1925 in Ottawa, Illinois, where her father was the pastor of the Presbyterian church. She was educated at Knox College (B.M.E. 1947) and Union Theological Seminary's School of Sacred Music, New York City(M.S.M. 1949). She has been choir director in the various churches her husband has served as pastor.
The tune SHEPHERDS' PIPES was written by Annabeth McClelland Gay in 1952 as the setting for "The Lord Is Rich and Merciful" in the Pilgrim Hymnal (1958). Every Christmas, the Gays sent an original Christmas song to their friends. In 1952 it was Annabeth's turn to compose the music for which her husband would supply the words. "This tune 'dropped out of the blue' one evening while I was at the piano. Bill said, 'Sounds like shepherd pipes,' and ran for the Bible dictionary to see if such were used by the shepherds in Palestine, and the hymn tune was born.“

Annabeth McClelland Gay, 95, Lincoln, died 29 April 2020 at Eastmont Towers. Annabeth was born on 18 April 1925 to the Rev. Charles McClelland and Barbara Nessen McClelland in Ottawa, IL. She was the Valedictorian of her high school class and went to Knox College in Galesburg, IL, graduating in 1947 (Phi Beta Kappa) with a degree in music, specializing in voice and organ. She then attended Union Theological Seminary in New York, graduating in 1949 with a Master's Degree in Sacred Music. It was at Union that she met William Gay, her husband of 60 years. They married in 1949 and spent 40 years serving U.C.C. churches together in rural Ohio. During this time, she was very active in leading church music workshops throughout Ohio and adjoining states. She also gave uncountable organ, piano, and voice lessons to young and old. Annabeth was, above all, a hymnodist. With William, she composed a Christmas song or hymn every year that they sent to family and friends. Several of these were widely published and one, “Carol of Hope,” has been included in a wide variety of hymnals. Annabeth is survived by her son Timothy (Chris) of Lincoln, a brother, the Rev. Robert McClelland of St. Louis, MO, two grandsons, Frederick (Sara) of Ft. Worth, TX, and Bertram (Stacey Rickers) of Culver City, CA, and two great-grandaughters, Harriet and Beatrice, of Ft. Worth. She was preceded in death by her parents, husband, and sister, Charlotte Petersen. Memorial gifts may be made to the U.C.C. Mission Boards through First Plymouth Church or to Eastmont Towers, Lincoln. A memorial service will be held at a future date to be announced. Condolences and personal reflections may be left online at

Tunes by Annabeth McClelland Gay (2)sort ascendingAsInstancesIncipit
SHEPHERDS' PIPESAnnabeth McClelland Gay (Composer)1551327 11755 13271
CAROL OF HOPEAnnabeth Gay, b. 1925 (Composer)911545 32155 45645
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