Christe Eleison

Read the other chapter here.

Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I have sinned.

We have sinned… and we have all become as one unclean… and we have all fallen as a leaf, and our iniquities like the wind have taken us away.[1]

Be of good comfort, my children, and cry to the Lord… for as it was your mind to go astray from God, so when you return again you shall seek Him ten times as much.[2]

Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me… in the shadow of Thy wings will I hope, until iniquity pass away.[3]

“Have mercy on me, O Lord, for my sin is great.” This is plea that could only obtain with a God. Were we dealing with a fellow-creature we should strive to minimise the matter, and try to prove it to be less heinous that it appears. But we cannot deceive God, and to own its magnitude and our utter inability to pay our debt to Him and atone for our offences, is the best way of touching the heart of our merciful and compassionate Lord. How often has this little verse, with its simple, frank acknowledgement of guilt, brought hope and comfort to the heart of the sinner?

A colonel of the army, some years ago, was on his deathbed, and the priest beside him vainly endeavoured to bring him to fitting dispositions in which to go to God. The poor man seemed given over to despair, and nothing appeared to move or touch him. “It is no good, father, my sins are too great to be forgiven.” The good priest, much distressed at the apparent fruitlessness of his efforts, took up a book of Psalms and began quietly reading them to the dying man, who listened with sullen, hopeless, icy indifference. The father read on, inwardly praying, but feeling more and more distressed at the state of this soul, when suddenly the colonel exclaimed, “What was that you said, father? Read that again.” The good priest, somewhat surprised, repeated the last sentence he had read: “Thou wilt pardon me my sin, for it is great.”[4] Did you say, Thou wilt pardon my sin, for it is great?’” inquired the dying man with great agitation in his voice and manner. “Yes,” said the priest, hope reviving in his heart. “O my God!” the other cried, his voice choked with sobs and emotion, “I can indeed say that prayer. ‘Have mercy on me for my sin is great.’” With great contrition and the most consoling sentiments of love and hope, he then made his confession and died in the most beautiful dispositions.

Christ, have mercy on us.


[1] Isa.  64:5, 6.

[2] Bar. 4:27, 28.

[3] Ps. 56:2.

[4] Ps. 24:11.