At mgpc this morning our corporate confession of sin was the hymn ‘God Be Merciful To Me’.
The lyrics really seem quite counter-cultural these days. An open acknowledgemetn of sin, both failure and transgression; a plea for underserved mercy; and an undertaking to be a witness of God’s gracious forgiving love.
Not the stuff of contemporary self esteem or even the moralistic therapeutic deism passing for Christianity around the traps.
Here’s the lyrics, modernised, but not painfully so, from Rejoice!, (Hymnbook of the Presbyterian Church of Australia)
God, be merciful to me,
on Your grace I rest my plea;
plenteous in compassion, Lord,
mercy for my sins afford;
wash me, make me pure within,
cleanse, O cleanse me from my sin.
My transgressions I confess,
grief and guilt my soul oppress;
I have sinned against Your grace
and provoked You to Your face;
I confess Your judgment just,
speechless, I Your mercy trust.
I am evil, born in sin;
You desire truth within.
You alone my Saviour are,
teach Your wisdom to my heart.
Make me pure, Your grace bestow,
wash me whiter than the snow.
Broken, humbled to the dust
by Your wrath and judgment just,
let my contrite heart rejoice
and in gladness hear Your voice.
From my sins, Lord, hide Your face,
blot them out in boundless grace.
Gracious God, my heart renew,
make my spirit right and true;
cast me not away I pray,
dwell in me from day to day.
Your salvation’s joy impart,
steadfast make my willing heart.
Sinners then shall learn from me
and return, their God to see;
Saviour, all my guilt remove,
and my tongue shall sing Your love.
Touch my silent lips, O Lord,
let me speak the gracious word.
Rejoice has the hymn set to the tune ‘Dix’. It is recognisable as the tune used for the Christmas Carol ‘As With Gladness Men Of Old’.
The ‘Net-hymnal’ page for this hymn has it set to a tune they call ‘Redhead’, but I know it as ‘Petra’, a tune to which ‘Rock of Ages’ is sung. The page also has an older version of the words.
This YouTube of the tune ‘Dix’ doesn’t go for six verses, but you’ll get the idea.
As a bonus here’s Jars Of Clay singing the song to a tune I don’t recognise at all.
But it’s Jars Of Clay.