My sins have taken such a hold on me

My sins have taken such a hold on me. John Samuel Bewley Monsell* (1811-1875). This hymn of penitence is from Monsell’s Litany Hymns (1869). It was in the Revised Edition of Church Hymns (1903), edited by Charles Harford Lloyd*. It had five 6-line stanzas, each having line 3 as ‘Lord, I repent; accept my tears and grief’ and line 6 as ‘Lord, I believe; help Thou my unbelief’ (from Mark 9: 24). This produces the repetition that gives stability to the hymn, and parallels the repeated phrases in the Litany. The long lines impress the reader with the seriousness of Ash Wednesday, and indeed of the whole of Lent. The first two lines are a direct quotation from Psalm 40: 15: ‘My sins have taken...

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