Forgive Them, O My Father

Full 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

Alexander, Cecil Frances, née Humphreys, second daughter of the late Major John Humphreys, Miltown House, co. Tyrone, Ireland, b. 1823, and married in 1850 to the Rt. Rev. W. Alexander, D.D., Bishop of Derry and Raphoe. Mrs. Alexander's hymns and poems number nearly 400. They are mostly for children, and were published in her Verses for Holy Seasons, with Preface by Dr. Hook, 1846; Poems on Subjects in the Old Testament, pt. i. 1854, pt. ii. 1857; Narrative Hymns for Village Schools, 1853; Hymns for Little Children, 1848; Hymns Descriptive and Devotional, 1858; The Legend of the Golden Prayers 1859; Moral Songs, N.B.; The Lord of the Forest and his Vassals, an Allegory, &c.; or contributed to the Lyra Anglicana, the S.P.C.K. Psalms and Hym… 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. THEODULPH (Teschner)

Now often named ST. THEODULPH because of its association with this text, the tune is also known, especially in organ literature, as VALET WILL ICH DIR GEBEN. It was composed by Melchior Teschner (b. Fraustadt [now Wschowa, Poland], Silesia, 1584; d. Oberpritschen, near Fraustadt, 1635) for "Valet wi…

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ST. ALPHEGE (Gauntlett)

ST. MARGARET (Statham)



The Cyber Hymnal #1587
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Small Church Music #4958
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Include 26 pre-1979 instances