God, be merciful to me, On Thy grace I rest my pleaTune: REDHEAD NO. 76
Published in 26 hymnals
Printable scores: PDF, SibeliusAudio files: MIDI
1 God, be merciful to me;
on your grace I rest my plea.
My transgressions I confess;
grief and guilt my soul oppress.
Wash me, make me pure within;
cleanse, O cleanse me from my sin.
2 I have sinned against your grace
and provoked you to your face.
I confess your judgment just;
speechless, I your mercy trust.
Let my contrite heart rejoice
and in gladness hear your voice.
3 Gracious God, my heart renew,
make my spirit right and true.
Do not cast me from your sight
nor remove your Spirit's light.
Your salvation's joy restore,
make me steadfast evermore.
4 Contrite spirit, pleading cries,
you, O God, will not despise.
Sinful ways I will reprove,
and my tongue shall sing your love.
Let my righteous sacrifice
then delight your holy eyes.
Psalter Hymnal, 1987
|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|
st.1 = Ps. 51:1-3
st.2 = Ps. 51:4,8
st.3 = Ps. 51:10-12
st.4 = Ps. 51:13-14,17,19
Based on Psalm 51, the best-known of the penitential psalms, “God, Be Merciful” is a collation from the complete versification of the psalm in the 1912 Psalter. Making various alterations, especially in stanza 3, Bert Polman (PHH 37) prepared the collation to provide a shortened version of this well-known psalm and tune for the Psalter Hymnal. Other settings of Psalm 51 are at 51 and 167.
Service of confession and forgiveness; a sung prayer for renewal (st. 3); offering of gifts (st. 4). See also PHH 51.
--Psalter Hymnal Handbook
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 - 11 of 11)||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|
|Lift Up Your Hearts: psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs #622||God, Be Merciful to Me||God, be merciful to me||GOD, BE MERCIFUL||18.104.22.168.7.7||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||22.214.171.124.7.7||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]||126.96.36.199.7.7||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)||188.8.131.52.7.7|
|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||184.108.40.206.7.7.||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|