Monday, March 19, 2007

Oh, repent, and he’ll forgive.

"Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool." - Isaiah 1:18

Today I feel the desire to sing a hymn based on the above scripture written by W.W. Phelps titled "Gently Raise the Sacred Strain." The words to this hymn were written in the early 1830s and were included in the first official Church hymnbook compiled by Emma Smith in 1835. Please allow me to share these words of Grace and Repentance:

Gently Raise the Sacred Strain

Gently raise the sacred strain,
For the Sabbath’s come again
That man may rest,That man may rest,
And return his thanks to God
For his blessings to the blest, For his blessings to the blest.

Holy day, devoid of strife—
Let us seek eternal life,
That great reward,That great reward,
And partake the sacrament
In remembrance of our Lord, In remembrance of our Lord.

Sweetly swells the solemn sound
While we bring our gifts around
Of broken hearts, Of broken hearts,
As a willing sacrifice,
Showing what his grace imparts, Showing what his grace imparts.

Holy, holy is the Lord.
Precious, precious is his word:
Repent and live, Repent and live;
Tho your sins be crimson red,
Oh, repent, and he’ll forgive. Oh, repent, and he’ll forgive.

I first encountered this hymn while serving my full-time LDS mission. I was sitting in a chapel in Chapel Hill, North Carolina attending a Sacrament meeting. As I began singing these words my heart became very heavy. I acknowledged my sins in my heart and in my mind asked the Lord for forgiveness.

Tho your sins be crimson red,
Oh, repent, and he’ll forgive. Oh, repent, and he’ll forgive.

These words filled my soul with an indescribable joy as I felt the Savior's Love and Grace flow from Heaven. As I partook of the Sacrament I knew that I had been forgiven of my sins through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I knew that His Mercy had purified my spirit that was once as red as crimson. I knew that through continual repentance and faith it would become and remain as white as wool. These emotions flowed from my eyes as tears.

I know that these promises and blessings of forgiveness are available to all of us that find ourselves lost in sin. We can all be purified and redeemed through the power of Jesus Christ.