1 Alas! And did my Savior bleed,
and did my Sovereign die?
Would he devote that sacred head
for sinners such as I?
2 Was it for sins that I have done
he groaned upon the tree?
Amazing pity, grace unknown,
and love beyond degree!
3 Well might the sun in darkness hide
and shut its glories in
when Christ, the mighty Maker, died
for his own creatures’ sin.
4 Thus might I hide my blushing face
while his dear cross appears,
dissolve my heart in thankfulness,
and melt mine eyes to tears.
Watts' original heading for the text, "Godly sorrow arising from the suffering of Christ," fits stanzas 1-3 well. Stanza 3 contains the profound paradox of God the creator dying for the sin of human creatures: "Christ, the mighty Maker, died for his own creatures' sin." Stanza 4 moves from penitent sorrow to gratitude and tears of joy.
This song reflects the narrative of the suffering and death of Christ on Calvary, events whose significance and purpose is deepened by the confessions of the church. Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Days 15-16, Questions and Answers 37-44 explain the significance of each step of his suffering. Question and Answer 40 testifies that Christ had to suffer death “because God’s justice and truth require it; nothing else could pay for our sins except the death of the son of God.”
The Belgic Confession, Article 20 professes that “God made known his justice toward his Son…poured out his goodness and mercy on us…giving to us his Son to die, by a most perfect love, and raising him to life for our justification, in order that by him we might have immortality and eternal life.”
Consider also the testimony of Belgic Confession, Article 21: “He endured all this for the forgiveness of our sins.”