1 Whence shall my tears begin?
What first-fruits shall I bear
Of earnest sorrow for my sin?
Or how my woes declare?
O Thou! the merciful and gracious one
Forgive the foul transgressions I have done.
2 With Adam I have vied,
Yea, passed him, in my fall;
And I am naked now, by pride
And lust made bare of all;
Of Thee, O God, and that celestial band,
And all the glory of the promised land.
3 No earthly Eve beguiled
My body into sin:
A spiritual temptress smiled,
Unbridled passion grasped the unhallowed sweet:
Most bitter - ever bitter - was the meat.
4 If Adam’s righteous doom,
Because he dared transgress
Thy one decree, lost Eden’s bloom
And Eden’s loveliness:
What recompence, O Lord, must I expect,
Who all my life Thy quickening laws neglect?
5 By mine own act, like Cain,
A murderer was I made:
By mine own act my soul was slain,
When Thou wast disobeyed:
And lusts each day are quickened, warring still
Against Thy grace with many a deed of ill.
6 Thou formed’st me of clay,
O heav’nly Potter! Thou
In fleshly vesture didst array,
With life and breath endow.
Thou who didst make, didst ransom, and dost know
To Thy repentant creature pity show!
7 My guilt for vengeance cries;
But yet Thou pardonest all,
And whom Thou lov’st Thou dost chastise,
And mourn’st for them that fall:
Thou, as a Father, mark’st our tears and pain,
And welcomest the prodigal again.
8 I lie before Thy door,
O turn me not away!
Nor in mine old age give me o’er
To Satan for a prey!
But ere the end of life and term of grace,
Thou merciful! my many sins efface!
9 The priest beheld, and passed
The way he had to go:
A careless glance the Levite cast,
And left me to my woe:
But Thou, O Jesu, Mary’s Son, console,
Draw nigh, and succour me, and make me whole!
10. Thou Spotless Lamb divine,
Who takest sins away,
Remove, remove, the load that mine
Upon my conscience lay:
And, of Thy tender mercy, grant Thou me
To find remission of iniquity.