Encouagement for Lent: John Donne’s Wilt Thou Forgive?

March 20, 2009

From our archives, originally posted in March 2006.

Wilt Thou Forgive? — John Donne

Filed under: Repentance, Adoration, Lent 2006, Anglican Bloggers Lenten Devotionals, Illustrated Devotionals, Poems, Hymns & Songs

Matt Kennedy’s wonderful meditation on Romans 8:1 so encouraged me last night. And then, shortly afterwards, I came across this wonderful poem / hymn by John Donne while browsing online. For those frustrated by their sins this Lent, feeling powerless, wondering how God can forgive yet again, be reminded “He hast done” and be encouraged by following truths and promises of Scripture and the beautiful hymn of John Donne.

Eph 1:7-8
In [Christ] we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.

Col 1:13-14, 21-22
For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. […] Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation…

Heb 9:28
… so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.

I Jn 1:9
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

by John Donne

The tune for the following hymn is here. Several versions of the hymn are also available for download at iTunes or Amazon, for instance this version at iTunes from the album Harmonia Sacra & Divine Anthems.


WILT Thou forgive that sin where I begun,   prodigal-son
Which was my sin, though it were done before?
Wilt Thou forgive that sin, 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.

Wilt Thou forgive that sin which I have 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.

I have a sin of fear, that when I have spun
My last thread, I shall perish on the shore ;
But 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.

Donne, John. Poems of John Donne. vol I.
E. K. Chambers, ed.
London, Lawrence & Bullen, 1896. 213.

— art credit: Rembrandt, The Return of the Prodigal Son, 1669 – from the web gallery of art

John 8:33-36

March 20, 2009

They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can you say, ‘You will be made free’?” (John 8:33)
      Father, they were slaves in Egypt and you set them free; please help us recognize the times and place where we have been in bondage and you set us free; help us recognize where we are currently in bondage and prompt us to turn to you for deliverance and the freedom of your Spirit.

Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin.” (John 8:34)
      Father, we are all sinners in your sight; have mercy on us.

“And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever.” (John 8:35)
      Holy Spirit, fill us with the knowledge of our adoption as children of God and heirs to the promises made to Abraham.

“Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” (John 8:36)
      Jesus, bring all of us in this diocese, liberal and conservative, young and old, men and women, homosexual and heterosexual, [whatever divides us], into the freedom that only you can give. Bathe us all in pools of living water and let your word abide in our hearts. Thank you.

      A word received: Cry out to me for my people. Cry out to me and give me no peace; for my people have wandered far from the flock. Cry out to me — pray that I will be a shelter in the storm.

Friday: 88; Jeremiah 11:1-8,14-20; Romans 6:1-11; John 8:33-47
Saturday: 87, 90; Jeremiah 13:1-11; Romans 6:12-23; John 8:47-59

Albany Intercessor

Lent Quotes: Fasting shows that discipleship is always cruciform

March 20, 2009

In an entry at First Things On the Square blog entitled Keep the Fast, Keep the Feast, Peter Leithart wrote:

In spite of errors and abuses, Christians in the past had sound intuitions about the centrality of fasting in the Christian life. In the early Church, fasting was not an isolated practice reserved for a day or a season. It was a clue to all Christian living, a perspective on the whole of discipleship. To be a Christian meant to participate in a great feast. It meant also to observe a great fast.

This is true in several respects. Fasting shows that discipleship is always cruciform. It reminds us that we can’t follow Jesus unless we say “No” to ourselves and take up the cross. Fasting reveals that Jesus requires us to combat and enables us to conquer the sinful desires and habits that continue to plague us. Fasting reveals that the Christian life is a life of charity.

It’s an excellent entry, read it all.

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