Composer: Louis Bourgeois

Loys "Louis" Bourgeois (French: [buʁʒwa]; c. 1510 – 1559) was a French composer and music theorist of the Renaissance. He is most famous as one of the main compilers of Calvinist hymn tunes in the middle of the 16th century. One of the most famous melodies in all of Christendom, the Protestant doxology known as the Old 100th, is commonly attributed to him. See also in: Wikipedia  Go to person page >

Harmonizer: Claude Goudimel

Claude Goudimel; b. about 1505, Vaison, near Avignon, rance; killed in St. Bartholomew massacre, Lyons, France, Aug. 24, 1572 Evangelical Lutheran Hymnal, 1908 Go to person page >

Tune Information

Composer: Louis Bourgeois (1551)
Harmonizer: Claude Goudimel (1564)
Incipit: 57715 77465 55435
Key: a minor
Copyright: Public Domain


Be Merciful, Be Merciful, O God

Be merciful, be merciful, O God.
According to your steadfast love, have mercy.
Blot out my sin in your abundant mercy.
Wash all my sin away and make me clean.
I know my sin; it will not leave my mind.
Against you, only you, I have been sinning.
So you are just in judging what I did.
Even before my birth my life was tainted.

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Be Merciful, Be Merciful to Me

A Congregational Lament

Why, Lord, must evil seem to get its way?
We do confess our sin is deeply shameful;
but now the wicked openly are scornful
they mock your name and laugh at our dismay.
We know your providential love holds true:
nothing can curse us endlessly with sorrow.
Transform, dear Lord, this damage into good;
show us your glory, hidden by this evil.

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GENEVAN 51 first appeared in the 1551 edition of the Genevan Psalter and is attributed to Louis Bourgeois (PHH 3). Claude Goudimel (PHH 6) composed the harmonization in 1564; the melody was originally in the tenor. One of the longer and more difficult Genevan tunes in the Psalter Hymnal, this Phrygian melody is one of the most hauntingly suitable tunes for a penitential psalm. Though the initial stanzas of this psalm are subdued, it should not be sung too slowly, and the final stanzas have many phrases that abound in confidence and joy. Sing harmony on stanzas 3, 4, and/ or 5. Psalter Hymnal Handbook, 1988


Psalter Hymnal (Gray) #51
Text: Be Merciful, Be Merciful, O God
  • Bulletin Score (melody only) (PDF)
  • Full Score (PDF, XML)
  • Bulletin Score (PDF)


Instances (1 - 4 of 4)

Psalms for All Seasons #51B

Text InfoTune InfoScoreAudio

Psalter Hymnal (Gray) #51

Text InfoTune InfoAudio

Psalter Hymnal (Gray) #576

Page Scan

Trinity Psalter Hymnal #51A

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