Scripture Verse

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise. Psalm 51:17


John Bowring (1792–1872)
National Portrait Gallery


Words: John Bow­ring, Ma­tins and Ves­pers, 1823.

Music: Herz­lieb­ster Je­su Jo­hann Crü­ger, New­es voll­köm­lich­es Ge­sang­buch Augs­burg­isch­er Con­fess­ion (Berlin: 1640) (🔊 pdf nwc).

Johann Crüger (1598–1662)


From the recesses of a lowly spirit,
Our humble prayer ascends; O Fa­ther! hear it,
Upsoaring on the wings of awe and meekness;
Forgive its weakness!

I know, I feel, how mean and how unworthy
The trembling sacrifice I pour before Thee;
What can I offer in Thy presence holy,
But sin and folly?

For in Thy sight—who every bosom viewest,
Cold are our warmest vows, and vain our truest;
Thoughts of a hurrying hour; our lips repeat them,
Our hearts forget them.

We see Thy hand—it leads us, it supports us:
We hear Thy voice—it counsels and it courts us:
And then we turn away—and still Thy kindness
Pardons our blindness.

And still Thy rain descends, Thy sun is glowing,
Fruits ripen round, flowers are beneath us blowing
And, as if man were some deserving creature,
Joys cover nature.

O how long-suffering, Lord! but Thou delightest
To win with love the wandering—Thou invitest,
By smiles of mercy—not by frowns or terrors,
Man from his errors.

Father and Sav­ior! plant within that bosom
The seeds of holiness—and bid them blossom
In fragrance and in beauty bright and vernal,
And spring eter­nal.

Then place them in Thine ev­er­last­ing gardens,
Where angels walk, and seraphs are the wardens;
Where every flower that creeps
Thro’ death’s dark portal,
Becomes immortal.