Thursday, February 2, 2017

209. Miserere Hymn

This hymn is designed to accompany a Lenten midweek sermon series planned by the pastor at my home church, based on sections from Psalm 51 and other scriptures that he selected to accompany each evening's meditation. Let me emphasize: this is not a full paraphrase of Psalm 51. The structure of this hymn assumes the first and last stanza will be sung each week starting the Wednesday after the First Sunday in Lent, and each intervening stanza will be sung between them in turn at the corresponding midweek service, finishing the Wednesday before Palm Sunday. Noted in the headings below are the scriptures each of the five middle stanzas is meant to suggest. Because my pastor has asked me nicely to pair this hymn with a very familiar hymn-tune, I have chosen HERZLICH TUT MICH VERLANGEN (a.k.a. PASSION CHORALE) by Hans Leo Hassler, 1601.

Opening Stanza
Have mercy on me, Savior!
By reason of Your grace,
Blot out my misbehavior;
Show me a loving face!
Bathe me in cleansing water;
Wash me, oh, make me pure,
O Lamb, whose blameless slaughter
Now makes Your judgment sure!

Week 1: Psalm 51:1-4, especially 3-4a; 2 Samuel 11; Isaiah 53:9
For I know my transgressions;
My sins before me throng.
In all my indiscretions,
'Tis You I have done wrong.
You came my sins to carry;
You bore them to the grave.
My guilt with You I bury;
Have mercy, Lord, and save!

Week 2: Psalm 51:5-8, especially 8b; Job 1:6-2:10; Isaiah 53:10a
Though I may be afflicted
With wounds and losses sore,
You, Jesus, are depicted
As crushed and bruised yet more.
Your cross, Your bitter scourging
Surpass my woes in this:
By them my conscience purging,
They gain me life and bliss.

Week 3: Psalm 51:9-12, especially 11; 1 Timothy 1:12-20; Isaiah 53:8
Take not Your Spirit from me,
Nor cast me from Your face;
Though exile would become me,
Restore me to Your grace!
For my sake You were stricken,
Cut off from living flesh;
A new heart, therefore, quicken
Within me, pure and fresh!

Week 4: Psalm 51:13-15, especially 15; Mark 7:31-37; Isaiah 53:7
Unclose my lips to render
The honor due Your love,
While witness yet more tender
You bear of me above!
For, like a lamb led dumbly
Before the slayer's knife,
You held Your peace, and humbly
Resigned for me Your life.

Week 5: Psalm 51:16-19, especially 17 and 19a; Luke 19:1-9; Isaiah 53:10b
Your grieving soul was proffered
As all-sufficient price,
When on the cross You offered
Yourself as sacrifice.
So I, by grace repenting
My wrongs and rites not kept,
Enjoy, while yet lamenting,
A gift You will accept.

Closing Stanza
The pardoned now will praise You
With deep, heart-searing joy;
Unburdened souls will raise You
Hymns death cannot destroy.
Despite our own unfitness,
Weak hands and heavy tongue,
We'll bear Your mercy witness
In anthems lived and sung.

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