Saturday, 28 March 2015

Inspiring Story Behind "Show pity, Lord, O Lord, forgive" Isaac watts' prayer for forgiveness

Isaac Watts, that prolific writer of English hymns, has contributed a most helpful penitential hymn, which bears the date of 1719. The sentiment of this hymn is rather an assumption of sin and a realization of God's knowledge of it, and therefore a penitential petition for forgiveness.

watts' prayer for forgiveness


Show pity, Lord; O Lord! forgive;
Let a repenting rebel live.
Are not Thy mercies large and free?
May not a sinner trust in Thee?

Great God, Thy Nature hath no bound,
So let Thy pardoning Love be found.
wash my soul from every sin,
And make my guilty conscience clean!

My lips with shame my sins confess
Against Thy law, against Thy grace:
Lord, should Thy judgment grow severe,
1 am condemned, but Thou art clear.

Yet save a trembling sinner. Lord,
Whose hope, still hovering round Thy word,
Would light on some sweet promise there,
Some sure support against despair.

This hymn is a versification of the fifty-first psalm. In this psalm David prays for the remission of sins, making deep confession. It was after he had been guilty of specially heinous sin. It is, therefore, a psalm which is always appropriate in times of humiliation or at services of confession. The psalms, as we know, were the first hymn book. They still, in their scriptural form, are chanted in the churches. In their proper rendering we have the privilege of most beautiful and expressive worship. Some of the best of our hymns are versifications of these old biblical chants of the sanctuary. Of these, Luther and Watts have given us two of the best in their respective renditions of the 130th and 51st psalms.

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