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Repentance Hymns

This weekend I am speaking the the National Center for Family Integrated Churches Conference in Asheville, NC. The theme of the conference is “Repentance: The Reformation Continues.”

I have been asked to speak on the topic, “Repentance Through Singing in Corporate Worship.” I am going to preach from Psalm 130, one of the seven “Penitential Psalms,” as a way to show the power of using song to express true repentance in ways that are impossible with mere prose. I am also going to introduce Martin Luther’s paraphrase of Psalm 130, “Out of the Depths I Cry to Thee.”

Here are some hymns of repentance that you might find useful, along with free downloads of each:

Out of the Depths I Cry to Thee (AUS TIEFER NOT)

A lesser known hymn of Martin Luther, this paraphrase of Psalm 130, written earlier than “A Mighty Fortress” in 1524, is an expression of true repentance and confidence in God’s power to forgive through Christ. Luther wrote the melody as well, and his lyrics were translated into English by the well-known translator, Catherine Winkworth in 1863.

Free download

O Lord, Thou Judge of All the Earth (DISTRESS)

A metrical version of another psalm, this time Psalm 94, this hymn from the 1912 The Psalter both acknowledges the just judgement of God upon sinners and calls sinners to repentance. The tune is an American folk tune from the 1835 Southern Harmony.

Free download

Lord, I Deserve Thy Deepest Wrath (KEDRON)

This hymn of repentance is from American Baptist pastor, Basil Manly, written in 1850. This hymn, like Psalm 94, is an expression of deep repentance, calling upon the Lord for mercy and peace.

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Our Almost National Anthem

Free download

How Sad Our State (SASHA)

Isaac Watts’s wonderful expression of our sinfulness and freedom in Christ is set with contemporary composer Joan Pinkston’s beautiful tune.

Free download

Depth of Mercy (CANTERBURY)

This text by Charles Wesley asks the rhetorical question, If I am such a horrible sinner, can there be mercy from God for me? The answer is, of course, a resounding, Yes! In Christ there is forgiveness. This text is set with British composer Orlando Gibbons’s beautiful tune.

Free download

No, Not Despairingly (NENTHORN)

This text by Horatius Bonar expresses the deep hope and confidence we have in Christ, even when we recognize our need to come to God in confession of our sins.

Free download

Rock of Ages (REDHEAD)

Augustus Toplady’s well-known text of security and rest for those who come to God in repentance is set here with a more fitting tune than is commonly used.

Free download

A Debtor to Mercy Alone (TREWEN)

This is another lesser-known hymn of repentance by Augustus Toplady, rejoicing in the mercy of God toward repentant sinners.

Free download

God, Be Merciful to Me (REDHEAD)

This hymn is a paraphrase of one of the most well known penitential psalms, Psalm 51, David’s prayer of confession after he sinned with Bethsheba.

Free download

How Blest Is He Whose Trespass (WIE LIEBLICH IST DER MAIEN)

This is a setting of another penitential psalm, Psalm 32.

Free download

Scott Aniol

About Scott Aniol

Scott Aniol is the founder and Executive Director of Religious Affections Ministries. He is Chair of the Worship Ministry Department at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he teaches courses in ministry, worship, hymnology, aesthetics, culture, and philosophy. He is the author of Worship in Song: A Biblical Approach to Music and Worship, Sound Worship: A Guide to Making Musical Choices in a Noisy World, and By the Waters of Babylon: Worship in a Post-Christian Cutlure, and speaks around the country in churches and conferences. He is an elder in his church in Fort Worth, TX where he resides with his wife and three children.

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Isaac Watts was kind enough to write me a letter (with a postscript)

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