Psalm 51, the appointed psalm for Ash Wednesday, is arguably one of the most significant for Christians in that it provides for us an example of deep and heartfelt repentance. The story involves a king who after having an adulterous affair and getting a woman pregnant, gets wrapped up in an elaborate cover-up that leads to deceit, treachery, murder, and despair. The full story is told in 2 Samuel 11-12. Thankfully for us, the king was also a musician who recorded for posterity his song of repentance.
For meditating upon this psalm today, here is a recording of Chandos Anthem No. 3 by Georg Frideric Handel (1685-1759), a setting of selected verses of Psalm 51. The text of the work is below the recording link or can be downloaded by clicking here.
The work is about 20 minutes long, so relax and with a repentant heart enter into God’s love and grace. Remember, if God forgave David, he can forgive each one of us. Thanks be to God for His boundless mercy and grace!
Chandos Anthem No. 3 – “Have Mercy Upon Me, O God” (Psalm 51)
Georg Frideric Handel (1685-1759)
- Sonata: Andante/Allegro
- Chorus (Psalm 51:1)
Have mercy upon me, O God, after thy great goodness:
according to the multitude of thy mercies do away mine offences.
- Duet: Soprano and Tenor (Psalm 51:2)
Wash me thoroughly from my wickedness:
and cleanse me from my sin.
- Tenor (Psalm 51:3)
For I acknowledge my faults:
and my sin is ever before me.
- Tenor (Psalm 51:4)
Against thee only have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight:
that thou mightest be justified in thy saying, and clear when thou art judged.
- Chorus (Psalm 51:8)
Thou shalt make me hear of joy and gladness:
that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice.
- Soprano (Psalm 51:10-12)
Make me a clean heart, O God:
and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from thy presence:
and take not thy holy Spirit from me.
O give me the comfort of thy help again:
and stablish me with thy free Spirit.
- Chorus (Psalm 51:13)
Then shall I teach thy ways unto the wicked:
and sinners shall be converted unto thee.
From The Book of Common Prayer (1662)
Downloadable Text: Meditating upon Psalm 51 – Handel (Chandos Anthem No 3)