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christian aid carols

When Out of Poverty is Born

We chatted with Kathy Galloway about Christmas, the Christian Aid carol and meeting mothers on the frontline of the climate crisis.

Published on 30 November 2021

Written by Leanne Clelland

Kathy’s Song

For the last number of years, supporters across the UK have sung the Christian Aid carol during Advent. We chatted with Kathy Galloway about the hymn, When out of Poverty is Born and how Christian Aid influences her Christmas celebrations.

Kathy Galloway, former head of Christian Aid Scotland

Iain Cunningham

You’ve written the Christmas Aid Carol, When out of Poverty is Born. Tell us how that came about.

When I was asked, more than twenty years ago, to write an Advent Carol for Christian Aid, I was honoured to accept the invitation. It’s been an important part of my life since childhood, and I remember singing Christmas carols with my parents for Christian Aid round our neighbourhood by the light of flaming torches. In adulthood, Christian Aid’s strong emphasis on justice and partnership, and on giving a voice to the poorest people in the global South, kept me as a keen supporter. Its values spoke to and of my faith. 

Can you tell us a little about your hymn-writing process?

In looking for inspiration for the When Out of Poverty is Born, I found a thread of story that linked the great call of John the Baptist to ‘prepare the way of the Lord’ with the experience of people living in poverty through the centuries. As they struggled against landlessness and oppression, often having to flee their homes and become refugees, it was the story of a hope that continued to shine against all the odds. It was the dream that would not die, a simple but profound dream of safety and shelter, of dignity and peace, and the ability to provide for your children. It was Mary’s song, ‘he has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things’. (Lk 1,52-3). 

That thread led all the way to the stories shared by Christian Aid today. Now the climate crisis is making already desperately hard lives even harder. From flooding to droughts, the chaos of changing climates pollutes water, kills crops and animals. People’s livelihoods are destroyed, and often their homes as well.  

When out of poverty is born- Scratch Choir

A short video of Christian Aid Scotland Scratch Choir singing the hymn 'When out of poverty is born, written for Christian Aid by Kathy Galloway.

You worked as Head of Christian Aid Scotland for many years. In that role, you visited Brazil, Bolivia, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Palestine/Israel meeting mothers in the poorest communities who struggled to find clean water and food for their children. Has that impacted the way you celebrate Christmas?

I can barely imagine being a mother trying to care for her children on the frontline of the climate crisis (and it is so often women alone doing this), and now with the added calamity of the Covid19 pandemic to contend with. I’ve travelled with Christian Aid to countries facing extreme poverty, and been humbled by the courage and persistence of mothers. I’ve looked at the dirty water that’s their only option, and now, I never turn on my kitchen tap without being grateful for the clean water that comes out of it.  

I spent last Christmas alone, unable to see my children and grandchildren. It was hard not being able to open presents together. But I knew that the children would still have presents, and delicious food, and clean water for washing and cooking and drinking. We didn’t have to face the impossible choices so many parents face, of dirty water or no water at all, of food or shelter. 

How can churches celebrate with Christian Aid this Christmas?

Last year, when we couldn’t exchange presents, my family donated to Christian Aid instead, so that others could have the gift of the water of life. 

And this year, I hope you might ask your church to use my carol in an Advent or Christmas service; use it to encourage fundraising and make it part of your Christmas tradition. You can download resources for using the carol and fundraising at caid.org.uk/Christmas. Use it to remember our neighbours across the world facing impossible choices, as part of your Christmas giving. 

May the love and hope of the Christ child be with you this Christmas. ‘Be blest, prepare the way’. 

Carols for Christian Aid

Last year, Churches across Scotland joined our scratch choir singing Carols for Christian Aid. Inspired by Scottish supporters, churches across the UK will sing “When out of poverty is born” this December. Let’s raise the roof once again!
Adut with jerry can

Use our special Christmas carol

Stand with mums around the world in your Christmas worship
Adut Mariu Gout, age 27, with her family.

Christmas in Scotland

Find out how we are working alongside the Scottish Government to bring hope to South Sudan this Christmas.
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