Forgive Them, O My Father

Representative Text

1. Forgive them, O my Father,
They know not what they do.
The Savior spoke in anguish,
As sharp iron nails went through.
No word of anger spoke He
To them that shed His blood,
But prayer and tenderest pity
Large as the love of God.

2. For me was that compassion,
For me that tender care;
I need His wide forgiveness
As much as any there.
It was my pride and hardness
That hung Him on the tree;
Those cruel nails, O Savior,
Were driven in by me.

3. And often I have slighted
Thy gentle voice that said:
Forgive me too, Lord Jesus,
I knew not what I did.
O depth of sweet compassion!
O love divine and true!
Save Thou the souls that slight Thee,
And know not what they do.

Source: The Cyber Hymnal #1587

Author: Cecil Frances Alexander

As a small girl, Cecil Frances Humphries (b. Redcross, County Wicklow, Ireland, 1818; Londonderry, Ireland, 1895) wrote poetry in her school's journal. In 1850 she married Rev. William Alexander, who later became the Anglican primate (chief bishop) of Ireland. She showed her concern for disadvantaged people by traveling many miles each day to visit the sick and the poor, providing food, warm clothes, and medical supplies. She and her sister also founded a school for the deaf. Alexander was strongly influenced by the Oxford Movement and by John Keble's Christian Year. Her first book of poetry, Verses for Seasons, was a "Christian Year" for children. She wrote hymns based on the Apostles' Creed, baptism, the Lord's Supper, the Ten Commandment… Go to person page >

Text Information

First Line: Forgive them, O my Father
Title: Forgive Them, O My Father
Author: Cecil Frances Alexander
Language: English
Copyright: Public Domain


Forgive them, O my Father. Cecil F. Alexander. [Good Friday.] Contributed to the revised edition of Hymns Ancient & Modern, 1875, in 6 stanzas of 4 lines, and based on the words "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." In 1881 it was repeated in Mrs. Brock's Children's Hymn Book, and is also found in one or two American collections.

--John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)


ST. MARGARET (Statham)


Melchior Vulpius (PHH 397) composed this short chorale tune, published as a setting for the anonymous funeral hymn "Christus, der ist mein Leben" ("For Me to Live Is Jesus") in Vulpius's Ein Schön Geistlich Gesangbuch (1609). Johann S. Bach (PHH 7) based his Cantata 95 on this tune and provided two…

Go to tune page >

ST. ALPHEGE (Gauntlett)



The Cyber Hymnal #1587
  • Adobe Acrobat image (PDF)
  • Noteworthy Composer score (NWC)
  • XML score (XML)


Instances (1 - 3 of 3)
Page Scan

CPWI Hymnal #153

The Baptist Hymnal #131


The Cyber Hymnal #1587

Include 30 pre-1979 instances
Suggestions or corrections? Contact us