Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Hungarian Hymns: Bless Me With Forgiveness

"Bless Me With Forgiveness" is a Hungarian hymn with words by Balassi Bálint, and I found it appropriate for Ash Wednesday. Full lyrics with English translation/interpretation are here (and all translations below are from this link). A video with three of the verses is below.

Bocsásd meg, Úr Isten, ifjúságomnak vétkét,
Sok hitetlenségét, undok fertelmességét,
Töröld el rútságát, minden álnokságát,
könnyebbíts lelkem terhét!

Bless me with forgiveness, Lord, for all my sins of youth, 
all my doubts, my misdeeds, my betrayals of Thy truth, 
wipe out my transgressions, ugliness and falsehood, 
ease from my soul its grave load!

It's easy to forget that forgiveness is a blessing. Even when we think of it as mercy, as good, we want to rush past the confession and forgiveness onto new and unburdened life. But there's value in taking time to just rest in the moment of reconciliation with God. In that moment we fully acknowledge the sin we are confessing, the load that has been upon us, and then recognize the blessing that forgiveness is. That's the moment of grace, and it's by that grace that we can live in obedience to God's will.

I love the last two lines in Hungarian; translated a bit more literally they are "Blot out shame and all guile, lighten my soul's burden!" Shame and guile are burden, and it is only God who can wipe clean. The next verse in the video (verse four of the poem) talks about fearing to approach God because of shame. This is part of the burden of sin, shame, and guile, that they make us afraid to even come before God, and we need God so much. And the answer to this is the last verse in the video (verse 13 in the poem):

Térj azért, én lelkem, kegyelmes Istenedhez,
Szép könyörgésekkel békéljél szent kezéhez,
Mert lám, hozzáfogad, csak reá hadd magad,
igen irgalmas úr ez.

Therefore, my soul, do turn to God merciful today, 
Answer to His calling - He loveth us all, alway! 
Listen to His wording, answer thou His calling - 
submit thyself to His way!

The translation of this verse is far from direct (the last line is more literally, "Yes, God is merciful."), but the ideas are all still the same. Even when we are so full of shame that we are afraid to go to God, God loves us. God is merciful. God is reaching out to us, pouring out grace upon us, waiting for our recognition of God's love. God will be there, always, whenever we come to truly repent.

And then we will receive the blessing of forgiveness.

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