1 God, be merciful to me,
on Thy grace I rest my plea;
plenteous in compassion Thou,
blot out my transgressions now;
wash me, make me pure within,
cleanse, O cleanse me from my sin.
2 My transgressions I confess,
grief and guilt my soul oppress;
I have sinned against Thy grace
and provoked thee to Thy face;
I confess Thy judgment just,
speechless, I Thy mercy trust.
3 I am evil, born in sin;
Thou desirest truth within.
Thou alone my Savior art,
teach Thy wisdom to my heart;
make me pure, Thy grace bestow,
wash me whiter than the snow.
4 Broken, humbled to the dust
by Thy wrath and judgment just,
let my contrite heart rejoice
and in gladness hear Thy voice;
from my sins O hide Thy face,
blot them out in boundless grace.
5 Gracious God, my heart renew,
make my spirit right and true;
cast me not away from Thee,
let Thy Spirit dwell in me;
Thy salvation's joy impart,
steadfast make my willing heart.
6 Sinners then shall learn from me
and return, O God, to Thee;
Savior, all my guilt remove,
and my tongue shall sing Thy love;
touch my silent lips, O Lord,
and my mouth shall praise accord.
7 Not the formal sacrifice
hath acceptance in Thy eyes;
broken hearts are in Thy sight
more than sacrificial rite;
contrite spirit, pleasing cries,
Thou, O God, wilt not despise.
8 Prosper Zion in Thy grace
and her broken walls replace;
then our righteous sacrifice
shall delight Thy holy eyes;
free-will offerings, gladly made,
on Thy altar shall be laid.
Source: Hymns to the Living God #88
|First Line:||God, be merciful to me, On Thy grace I rest my plea|
|Title:||God, Be Merciful to Me|
|Refrain First Line:||Gracious God, my heart renew|
|Liturgical Use:||Confession Songs|
The text of this hymn was inspired by Psalm 51—David’s confession after Nathan the prophet visits him about his adultery with Bathsheba. It is considered one of the best-known penitential (or confessional) Psalms. The hymn covers the content of the Psalm through four separate stanzas. The first stanza covers Ps. 51:1-3, the second stanza covers Ps. 51:4, 8, the third stanza covers Ps. 51:10-12, and the fourth stanza covers Ps. 51:13-14, 17, 19. Although the hymn alters the biblical text to form rhyming lines, the depth of David’s sadness and regret in Psalm 51 remains.
The tune most commonly used for this hymn is Richard Redhead’s READHEAD 76, which was written in 1853. Redhead had a career as an organist that lasted fifty-five years, from age 19 to 74. During that time he wrote dozens of tunes, including REDHEAD 76. This somber tune (commonly used with the hymn “Go to Dark Gethsemane”) is well suited for such a grief-riddled text. They have been paired in many hymnals.
This hymn would best be used in a service of confession and forgiveness. It can also be used as a song for renewal. The song is well suited to parts, with or without accompaniment.
Suggested music for this hymn:
|Instances (1 - 12 of 12)||Title||First Line||Tune||Tune Key||Author||Meter||Scripture||Date||Subject||Source|
|Contemporary Songs for Worship #9||God, Be Merciful to Me||God, be merciful to me||[God, be merciful to me]||Psalm 51||2008||Confession and Assurance |||vers. Psalter 1912, alt|
|Hymns to the Living God #88||God, Be Merciful to Me||God, be merciful to me||REDHEAD||126.96.36.199.7||Psalm 51||2017||Repentance and Faith |||<cite>The Psalter</cite>, 1912|
|Lift Up Your Hearts: psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs #622||God, Be Merciful to Me||God, be merciful to me||GOD, BE MERCIFUL||188.8.131.52.7.7||Psalm 51; 2 Samuel 12:13-14; Proverbs 28:13; Luke 15:17-21; 1 John 1:9||2013||Church Year | Ash Wednesday; God's | Mercy; Humility | ; Elements of Worship | Confession||<cite>Psalter</cite>, 1912, alt.|
|Lift Up Your Hearts: psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs #623||God, Be Merciful to Me||God, be merciful to me||REDHEAD 76||184.108.40.206.7.7||Psalm 51; Psalm 51:1-3; Psalm 51:4-8; Psalm 51:10-12; Psalm 51:13; Psalm 51:17; Psalm 51:19||2013||Church Year | Ash Wednesday; God's | Mercy; Humility | ; Renewal | ; Elements of Worship | Confession||<cite>Psalter</cite>, 1912, alt.|
|Psalms for All Seasons: a complete Psalter for worship #51N||God, Be Merciful to Me||God, be merciful to me||[God, be merciful to me]||220.127.116.11.7.7||Psalm 51||2012||Biblical Names and Places | Jerusalem; Biblical Names and Places | Zion; Broken-hearted | ; Church Year | Ash Wednesday; Church Year | Good Friday; Church Year | Lent; Church Year | Pentecost; Church Year | Transfiguration; Cry to God | ; Daily Prayer | Morning Prayer; Elements of Worship | Assurance of Pardon; Elements of Worship | Baptism; Elements of Worship | Confession (Individual); Elements of Worship | Lord's Supper; Elements of Worship | Offering; Endurance | ; Forgiveness | ; God | Trust in; God as | Refuge; God as | Spirit; God's | Wisdom; God's | Face; God's | Forgiveness; God's | Goodness; God's | Justice; God's | Love; God's | Protection; Grace | ; Guilt | ; Humility | ; Joy | ; Judgment | ; Lord's Prayer | 5th petition (forgive us our sins as we forgive…); Mercy | ; Offering of Sacrifice | ; Renewal | ; Servants of God | ; Sorrow | ; Suffering | ; Ten Commandments | 7th Commandmnet (do not commit adultery); The Fall | ; Year A, B, C, Lent, Ash Wednesday | ; Year B, Lent, 5th Sunday | ; Year B,||<cite>Psalter</cite>, 1912, alt.|
|Psalter Hymnal (Gray) #255||God, Be Merciful to Me||God, be merciful to me||REDHEAD 76||77 77 77||Psalm 51; Luke 18:13||1987||Confession and Forgiveness | ; Confession of Sin | ; Forgiveness | ; Grace | ; Judgment | ; Mercy | ; Salvation | ; Sanctification |||<i>Psalter</i>, 1912, alt.|
|Rejoice in the Lord #104||God Be Merciful to Me||God be merciful to me||ABERYSTWYTH||77.77 D||Psalm 51||1985||God | Compassion||<i>The Psalter </i>(1912) (adapted from)|
|Seventh-day Adventist Hymnal #297||God, be merciful to me, On Thy grace I rest my plea||God, be merciful to me, On Thy grace I rest my plea||REFUGE||1985|
|Sing Glory: Hymns, Psalms and Songs for a New Century #153||God, be merciful to me||God, be merciful to me||77 77 D||1999|
|Small Church Music #2497||Ajalon/Redhead/Petra||God, be merciful to me||AJALON (REDHEAD) (PETRA)||18.104.22.168.7.7|
|The Cyber Hymnal #1707||God, Be Merciful to Me||God, be merciful to me||REDHEAD||Anonymous||77.77.77||<cite>The Psalter</cite> (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: The United Presbyterian Board of Publication, 1912), number 140|
|Trinity Hymnal (Rev. ed.) #486||God, Be Merciful to Me||God, be merciful to me||REDHEAD 76||22.214.171.124.7.7.||Psalm 51:1-15||1990||The Way of Salvation | Repentance; Forgiveness of Sins | ; God | Mercy of; Grace | Refreshing; Heart | Contrite; Man | Depravity of; Self-Examination |||<i>The Psalter</i>, 1912|