Where righteousness doth say

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General information

The Complaint of A Sinner (Where righteousness doth say) is a Christian poem added to psalm-books in the 16th and 17th centuries. It first appears in a Genevan Psalter of 1561, first set to music in William Daman's Psalter of 1579.

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Where righteousness doth say,
Lord for my sinful part,
In wrath thou shouldst me pay,
Vengeance for my desert.
I can it not deny,
But needs I must confess,
how that continually,
thy laws I do transgress.

But if it be thy will
With sinners to contend:
Then all thy flock shall spill,
And be lost without end.
For who lives here so right,
That rightly he can say,
He sins not in thy sight,
Full oft and every day?

The Scripture plain tells me,
The righteous man offendeth
Seven times a day against thee
Whereon they wrath dependeth:
So that the righteous man
Doth walk in no such paths
But he falls now and than
In danger of thy wrath.

Then sith the case so stands,
That even in the man right wise
Falls oft in sinful bands,
Whereby they wrath may rise:
Lord, I that am unjust,
And righteousness none have:
Whereunto then shall I trust,
My sinful soul to save?


But truly to that post,
Whereto I cleave and shall:
Which is thy mercy most,
Lord let thy mercy fall.
And mitigate thy mood,
Or else we perish all:
The price of this thy blood,
Wherein mercy I call.

The Scripture doth declare,
No drop of blood in thee:
But that thou didst not spare
To shed each drop for me.
Now let those drops most sweet
So moist my heart to dry,
That I with sin replete,
May live, and sin may die.

That being mortified,
This sin of mine in me,
I may be sanctified,
By grace of thine in thee:
So that I never fall
Into such mortal sin:
That my foes infernal
Rejoice my death therein.

But vouchsafe me to keep
From those infernal foes:
And from that lake to deep,
Whereas no mercy grows.
And I shall sing the songs,
Confirmed with the just:
That unto thee belongs,
Which art my only trust.

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