Saturday, June 7, 2008

Wilt Thou Forgive That Sin

This hymn by John Donne (1573-1631) from The Hymnal 1982 speaks to the doubt that plagues the Christian struggling with sin.  In H82 it is set to two tunes--the first tune is DONNE by John Hilton (1599-16570); the second tune is SO GIEBST DU NUN, a melody from Geist und Lehr-reiches Kirchen und Haus Buch, 1694.

1.  Wilt thou forgive that sin, where I begun,
        which is my sin, though it were done before?
     Wilt thou forgive those sins through which I run,
        and do run still, though still I do deplore?
     When thou hast done, thou hast not done, 
        for I have more.

2.  Wilt thou forgive that sin, by which I won
         others to sin, and made my sin their door?
     Wilt thou forgive that sin which I did shun
        a year or two, but wallowed in a score?
     When thou hast done, thou hast not done, 
        for I have more.

3.  I have a sin of fear that when I've spun
        my last thread, I shall perish on the shore;
     swear by thyself, that at my death thy Son
        shall shine as he shines now, and heretofore.
     And having done that, thou hast done,
       I fear no more.


Anonymous said...

Isn't this an interesting hymn ! Where on earth did you ever find this one? I've sure walked in this guys shoes before, I can tell ya that. Thank God for absolution, or I'd still be a basket case asking " Wilt Thou Forgive that sin ? " Oh yes I could hear Jesus on the cross saying," Father Forgive Them..." Yet I wasn't sure God actually did forgive me. I had a few memories that kept making me feel quilty, things I couldn't go back and change, things I didn't want to forgive myself for and things other people didn't want to forgive me for having done. For years I heard my pastor say " I forgive you , in the stead of my Lord Jesus " after confessing during the worship service, but I guess it just wasn't personal enough. Like doubting Thomas I needed proof, I had to know for sure that God would forgive that sin...for not bringing my children to church and for being too fat.

Numbers 15:26
And all the congregation of the people of Israel shall be forgiven, and the stranger who sojourns among them, because the whole population was involved in the mistake.

Numbers 30:12
But if her husband makes them null and void on the day that he hears them, then whatever proceeds out of her lips concerning her vows or concerning her pledge of herself shall not stand. Her husband has made them void, and the Lord will forgive her.

So there I was there at the altar pouring my heart out, confessing my sins, hoping my Pastor would tell me God forgives me. Why ? So that when the devil comes to nag at me about those two things, I tell him " I'm forgiven ! "
I only tell you this because there maybe some other poor soul whole might be feeling guilty about something they did and maybe like me it drove them crazy. Maybe the only hope they think they have is drugs and weekly visits mental health doctors. I didn't realize it at the time I din't realize I was afraid of death but it was the beginning of wisdom, that fear helped me keep looking for away to get away from the devil who wanted me to believe God didn't forgive that sin, that I needed to be a better mother and I needed to loose weight to make my husband happy.If I couldn't do that then I wasn't a Christian, I had failed God and God would not forgive me for being such a failure.

That experiance helped me to understand Martin Luther telling his friend in a letter, " Sin Boldly. " My family thought I was a was crazy to go to Confession, "Oh don't be stupid, only Catholics do that", I was told. At that point I had no pride left... I didn't care what they thought...I went to church anyway, it took a lot of courage to keep that meeting with my pastor, I didn't want to make a public confession to my pastor, I was really very much afraid that day, telling him such personal stuff about myself. I wanted to keep my sinful condition hidden, put on a happy face and pretend I was an ideal mther and wife, that I did everything right. But I knew the truth, the truth...if we say we have no sin , then the truth does not live in us. Yet on the other hand... Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains.
[1]Greek you would not have sin

amelithpastor said...

I would direct you to a wonderful hymn of confession and absolution, "Baptismal Waters Cover Me," by Kurt E. Reinhardt-- #616 in Lutheran Service Book.

Anonymous said...

I discovered this hymn, for myself, at an Episcopal service today. It was profoundly beautiful and so compelling that I wrote down the first phrase so I could find it when I got home. Lynn, thank you for providing Scripture supporting Donne's prayer.