With broken heart and contrite sigh

Hymn #60
Text: Cornelius Elven (1797-1873)
Music: Thomas Campian (1567-1620)



An English Baptist pastor and close friend of Charles Spurgeon, Cornelius Elven wrote this hymn for a series of special services in his congregation in 1852. The text expresses the penitence of the Publican in the parable in St. Luke 18:9-14.

1. With broken heart and contrite sigh
a trembling sinner, Lord, I cry:
thy pardoning grace is rich and free
O God, be merciful to me.

2. I smite upon my troubled breast,
with deep and conscience guilt oppressed;
Christ and his cross my only plea:
O God, be merciful to me.

3. Far off I stand with tearful eyes,
nor dare uplift them to the skies;
but thou dost all my anguish see:
O God, be merciful to me.

4. Nor alms, nor deeds that I have done,
can for a single sin atone;
to Calvary alone I flee:
O God, be merciful to me.

5. And when, redeemed from sin and hell,
with all the ransomed throng I dwell,
my raptured song shall ever be,
God has been merciful to me.



Thomas Campian (sometimes spelled “Campion”) was a physician, poet, and musician. As a composer, he is best remembered for his lute songs, which number over a hundred.

Below is Andrew Remillard’s rendition of this hymn on piano.