DEPTH OF MERCY
Charles Wesley (1707-1788)
Orlando Gibbons (1583-1625)
Words: Charles Wesley, Hymns and Sacred Poems, 1740.
- Buckland, Leighton G. Hayne, 1863 (MIDI, score)
- Seymour, Carl M. von Weber (1786-1826) (MIDI, score)
An actress in a town in England, while passing along the street, heard singing in a house. Out of curiosity she looked in through the open door and saw a number of people sitting together singing this hymn. She listened to the song, and afterwards to a simple but earnest prayer. When she went away the hymn had so impressed her that she procured a copy of a book containing it. Reading and re-reading the hymn led her to give her heart to God and to resolve to leave the stage. The manager of the theater pleaded with her to continue to take the leading part in a play which she had made famous in other cities, and finally he persuaded her to appear at the theater. As the curtain rose the orchestra began to play the accompaniment to the song which she was expected to sing. She stood like one lost in thought, and the band, supposing her embarrassed, played the prelude over a second and a third time. Then with clasped hands she stepped forward and sang with deep emotion:
“Depth of mercy, can there be
Mercy still reserved for me?”
This put a sudden stop to the performance; not a few were impressed, though many scoffed. The change in her life was as permanent as it was singular. Soon after she became the wife of a minister of the Gospel.
Sankey, pp. 134-5
Depth of mercy! Can there be
Mercy still reserved for me?
Can my God His wrath forbear,
Me, the chief of sinners, spare?
I have long withstood His grace,
Long provoked Him to His face,
Would not hearken to His calls,
Grieved Him by a thousand falls.
I have spilt His precious blood,
Trampled on the Son of God,
Filled with pangs unspeakable,
I, who yet am not in hell!
I my Master have denied,
I afresh have crucified,
And profaned His hallowed Name,
Put Him to an open shame.
Whence to me this waste of love?
Ask my Advocate above!
See the cause in Jesus’ face,
Now before the throne of grace.
Jesus, answer from above,
Is not all Thy nature love?
Wilt Thou not the wrong forget,
Permit me to kiss Thy feet?
If I rightly read Thy heart,
If Thou all compassion art,
Bow Thine ear, in mercy bow,
Pardon and accept me now.
Jesus speaks, and pleads His blood!
He disarms the wrath of God;
Now my Father’s mercies move,
Justice lingers into love.
Kindled His relentings are,
Me He now delights to spare,
Cries, “How shall I give thee up?”
Lets the lifted thunder drop.
Lo! I still walk on the ground:
Lo! an Advocate is found:
“Hasten not to cut Him down,
Let this barren soul alone.”
There for me the Savior stands,
Shows His wounds and spreads His hands.
God is love! I know, I feel;
Jesus weeps and loves me still.
Pity from Thine eye let fall,
By a look my soul recall;
Now the stone to flesh convert,
Cast a look, and break my heart.
Now incline me to repent,
Let me now my sins lament,
Now my foul revolt deplore,
Weep, believe, and sin no more.