Depth of Mercy

This is a hard hymn to sing; at least for me it is.

I think part of what makes it so difficult is that through both the music and the lyrics, the gravity of sin is emphasized. This hymn really captures how seriously God takes sin. Sitting in that reality is…uncomfortable at best.

But, emphasizing the gravity of sin was not the ultimate goal Charles Wesley set out to achieve when he first penned these lyrics in 1740. To truly understand the point of the hymn, we have to keep coming back to the title/opening line: Depth of mercy! It is easy to lose track of this thought, as it’s only sang once at the very beginning of the song, but it is the crux of the entire piece. The Bible tells us that the consequence of sin is death, but through faith in the saving grace of Jesus Christ, our sin is rendered powerless. In place of death, we are given life!

This hymn is not about how terrible we are, or how far we have fallen short of God’s plan. In truth, it isn’t about us at all! Instead, it is a song of praise to God for his endless love shown in his mercy that is unthinkably deep. This hymn has to be understood in the context of extolling the depth of mercy God has for us: we are all sinners, but because of his great love for us, because of Jesus, he does not hold those sins against us, as grievous as they may be! No, instead God invites us into a relationship with him in which he shapes us into the people he created us to be; not the people sin’s effects have convinced us we are.

I hope this helps you appreciate the complex creativity and beauty the hymn aspires to capture. I hope this hymn serves to encourage us as we draw nearer and nearer to a God that loves us more than we can hope to understand, let alone express.


Categories: From The Pastors, Music