Repentance and Forgiveness: a journey into God’s grace (2)

As with many other sections of Singing the Faith, although the hymns marked Repentance and Forgiveness (StF 419 – 438) offer a focus on this area of our prayer and worship, hymns elsewhere in the collection also pick up on this theme. Two examples:

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In words that suggest older gospel traditions, perhaps even the flavour African-American spirituals, Brian Doerksen delivers a prayer for forgiveness in the context of baptism. “To the river I am going, / bringing sins I cannot bear” (StF 541) draws on the early Christian understanding that to be baptised in water (specifically as an adult with full immersion in water) is to be drowned metaphorically and born again. Sins are “washed away” in the process and a life lived in the knowledge of God’s grace can begin. Knowing that Jesus has taken him or her by the hand, the newly baptised Christian joins with the rest of the worshipping community in looking outwards, inviting others to “come, join us in the river, / come and find life beyond compare” (v.3). (See also Graham Kendrick’s I’ve come to wash my soul in the living water, StF 428)

Geoff Bullock’s Lord, I come to you (StF 471) might almost be the song of the newly baptised Christian envisaged by Brian Doerksen (above). The repentance of the first verse (“I’ve come to know / the weaknesses I see in me”) is transformed in verse 2 into a desire for God to “renew my mind, / as your will unfolds in my life”. In between, the emotional refrain – the words, maybe, of the new Christian being lifted up out of the water:

I’ll rise up like the eagle,
and I will soar with you,
your Spirit leads me on
in the power of your love.

Also see Repentance and Forgiveness (1)

Categories: Hymns as prayer.

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