Indelible Grace Hymnbook

Thy Mercy My God

John Stocker
Sandra McCracken

1. Thy mercy, my God, is the theme of my song,
The joy of my heart. and the boast of my tongue;
Thy free grace alone, from the first to the last,
Hath won my affections, and bound my soul fast.

2. Without Thy sweet mercy I could not live here;
Sin would reduce me to utter despair;
But, through Thy free goodness, my spirits revive,
And He that first made me still keeps me alive.

3. Thy mercy is more than a match for my heart,
Which wonders to feel its own hardness depart;
Dissolved by Thy goodness, I fall to the ground,
And weep to the praise of the mercy I’ve found.

4. Great Father of mercies, Thy goodness I own,
And the covenant love of Thy crucified Son;
All praise to the Spirit, Whose whisper divine
Seals mercy, and pardon, and righteousness mine.
All praise to the Spirit, Whose whisper divine
Seals mercy, and pardon, and righteousness mine.

©2001 Same Old Dress Music (ASCAP).


Sandra McCracken tells the story of writing this tune:

John Stocker wrote a hymn, “Thy Mercy My God, Is The Theme Of My Song,” in 1776 that I discovered on the pages of a Gadsby’s Hymnal about ten years ago. I wrote a new melody to his four stanzas that afternoon, and these words have been an arresting companion for me in many changing seasons since that day.

Your mercy, my God.

This morning, I was heavy with sleep when my double alarms went off at 6:00 and 6:08. I was slow-moving to get out of bed, having been awake during the night thinking about my kids, their school progress, my work schedule and the intersection of all those life forces. And still that sun came up again today. The faithful mercies of God—they come every morning, whether I am bleary-eyed or bright. When the sun is hidden behind winter, overcast clouds, still this mercy, this morning is new. Still, the sun rises.
Today, His mercy is coming. I am reminded as I pray those words with my kids in the backseat on the way to school—His mercy is already here.

Without your sweet mercy, I could not live here.

Mercy is God giving us what we need when we don’t deserve an ounce of goodness. We can’t earn it. It’s a bold expectation, appealing for mercy when I don’t have anything measurable to contribute or to earn for myself. I can’t bargain with a Holy God. My appeal for grace is only and always Jesus.Some days we see a quick answer to yesterday’s prayers. Some days we decidedly get the opposite of what we asked for. Some days, in the silence, we are just asked to wait. Most days are like that, I think.I can say sometimes, like St. Paul, that I have learned to be content in lots of situations. But my contentment is fleeting. It slips through my fingers. And gratitude is both a practice and a gift to be received.

Your goodness, I own.

Here, John’s hymn proclaims another bold expectation. In the midst of our failings and fears, we are the recipients of LOVE by a fiercely loving God—an obliging God, even. He gives Himself to us again and again. It is as if we are the receiving address where He sends and supplies His goodness daily. I love the phrase in the Anglican communion liturgy that says, “For it is Your property always to have mercy.” Mercy is a demonstration of God’s abundant nature. In Philippians 2, we are reminded of how Jesus humbled Himself in obedience to the Father’s will. His faithfulness toward us is measurable by His provision—daily bread, of every variety.

“In him and by him and for him, all things hold together” (Colossians 1:16). In all things, Jesus holds the world together—the rhythms of our families, the rhythm of the sunrise, and everything in creation, held together by the sheer magnetic and dynamic force of His mercy. Mercy for you. Mercy for me. Mercy for the world.