April 18, 1925 – April 29, 2020
Born in Ottawa, IL
Resided in Lincoln, NE

Annabeth Gay

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 in Ottawa and went to Knox College in Galesburg, IL, from which she graduated (Phi Beta Kappa) in 1947 with a degree in music, specializing in voice and organ.  She then went to Union Theological Seminary in New York City, graduating in 1949 with a Master’s Degree in Sacred Music.  It was at Union that she met William (Bill) Gay, her future husband of 60 years. Despite the fact that he was a Congregationalist and that she was the daughter, sister, sister-in-law, and aunt of no fewer than five ordained Presbyterian ministers, they were married in 1949 and spent the next 40 years serving Congregational Christian and, subsequently, United Church of Christ churches together in rural Ohio.  During this time, she was very active in leading church music workshops throughout Ohio and in adjoining states.  She also gave innumerable organ and voice lessons to young and old alike for twenty-five cents an hour, which she reluctantly increased to fifty cents in 1970.

Annabeth was, above all, a hymnodist. With Bill, she composed a Christmas song or hymn every year to include with the Christmas cards they sent to their family and friends.  Several of these were widely published; Brian Wren wrote words to accompany one of her best-known tunes, “Shepard’s Pipes,” which, with “Carol of Hope,” has been included in a variety of hymnals including those used by the Catholic, Methodist, Lutheran, and Presbyterian Churches, as well as the Pilgrim Hymnal of the United Church of Christ.

Annabeth is survived by her son Timothy and daughter-in-law Chris, both 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 Mission Boards of the United Church of Christ through First Plymouth Church or to Eastmont Towers, Lincoln. A memorial service will be held at a future date to be announced after the Pandemic subsides.


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