Composer: Annabeth McClelland Gay (1952)
Published in 14 hymnals

Audio files: MIDI, Recording

Composer: Annabeth McClelland Gay

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 s… Go to person page >

Tune Information

Composer: Annabeth McClelland Gay (1952)
Meter: D
Incipit: 51327 11755 13271
Key: g minor
Copyright: © 1958, 1986, Pilgrim Press.


Annabeth McClelland Gay (b. Ottawa, IL, 1925) composed SHEPHERDS' PIPES in 1952, and her husband matched it with a hymn text to send as Christmas greetings. She wrote, "When I played it for him, he said, 'I wonder if Palestinian shepherds played on pipes, because that's what this tune reminds me of.' So his text followed ("The Shepherds' Pipes on Bethlehem's Heights") and from the text, the tune name."

The tune was first published in Pilgrim Hymnal (1958) with T. T. Lynch's text 'The Lord Is Rich and Merciful." Gay was organist and choir director in churches in New York and Ohio, including the Hale United Church of Christ in Dayton, Ohio, where her husband served as pastor. She was educated at Knox College, Galesburg, Illinois, and received a masters degree in sacred music from Union Theological Seminary, New York City. Other of her hymn tunes were combined with texts by her husband and sent with Christmas greetings; "Carol of Hope" was included in Worship II.

Dale Grotenhuis (PHH 4) harmonized SHEPHERDS' PIPES in 1985. In a minor tonality, this tune offers melodic repetitions and dependable rhythms. To do justice to this text, use a marcato performance.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook, 1988



Instances (1 - 12 of 12)

Christian Worship #81B

Christian Worship #106B

Community of Christ Sings #64

Text InfoTextAudio

Glory to God #50

Text InfoAudio

Glory to God #56

Text InfoTune InfoAudio

Psalter Hymnal (Gray) #58


Rejoice in the Lord #253


The New Century Hymnal #320

TextPage Scan

The Presbyterian Hymnal #330

Trinity Psalter Hymnal #58

Voices Together #569


Wonder, Love, and Praise #889

Include 2 pre-1979 instances
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