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March 2nd, 2015

A Redemptorist’s Uncompromising Hymn

Now that we are well into Lent, I am glad to see that God of Mercy and Compassion, by Fr Edmund Vaughan CSSR is still being sung, in some  churches at least.  It’s in the parish hymnal of my local church—at least, two verses are.

God of mercy and compassion,
Look with pity upon me,
Father, let me call Thee Father,
 ’Tis Thy child returns to Thee.

Refrain:
Jesus, Lord, I ask for mercy;
Let me not implore in vain;
All my sins, I now detest them,
Never will I sin again.

By my sins I have abandoned
Right and claim to heav’n above.
Where the saints rejoice forever
In a boundless sea of love.

When I was a boy we had a different second verse. I suppose it is now considered a bit too uncompromising for post Vatican II sensitivities. It went like this:

By my sins I have deserved
Death and endless misery,
Hell with all its pains and torments,
And for all eternity.

I am pleased to tell you  that the Latin Mass chaplaincy in Dublin still uses the above verse. Once there was also a fourth verse, one that reminded us of the price paid for our own, individual sins:

See our Saviour, bleeding, dying,
On the cross of Calvary;
To that cross my sins have nail’d Him,
Yet He bleeds and dies for me.

It may not be great poetry, but it’s a very fine hymn indeed.

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