Sacred Music Series

Wednesday, August 26th, 2020

Our summer series continues as OLMC music director and music professor, Ms. Andrea Covais explores the rich tradition of sacred music. Each week we will feature a new song that will be sung during that weekend’s Masses at communion. We hope these short pieces enrich and deepen your spiritual journey during these times.

Ms. Andrea Covais, OLMC Music Director

Most of us know French opera composer Charles Gounod (1818-1893) for his Ave Maria, a simple and beautiful melody based on the first prelude from the Well Tempered Klavier (1722) of Johann Sebastian Bach. It is sung often at weddings and Marian feast days. Few of us know Gounod for his other sacred works, one which we feature this weekend, the song Repentir or in English, O Divine Redeemer. 

Gounod was born and raised in Paris to devout Catholic parents and became deeply interested in the Brotherhood of St. John the Evangelist. He later studied to become a priest at the seminary of St. Sulpice, although the vocation was never fulfilled. He often struggled in his life between his composition career and Catholic faith and ministry. His output of religious music is prolific, including 23 Masses, 40 settings of Latin texts and endless songs, of which O Divine Redeemer is one. Gounod wrote both the words and the music for this piece in 1893, a rarity for composers of this time, right at the end of his life. It is a prayer for forgiveness and pardon (“O Divine Redeemer, I pray thee, grant me pardon and remember not my sins”.) Scholars believe that Gounod was reflecting on his own life with the words of this song, as well as struggling with the death of his five year old grandson some months before.

Not performed much during his lifetime, O Divine Redeemer has become popular in the last century as a solo during religious services and concerts. It has been recorded by many famous opera singers including Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Placido Domingo and Jesse Norman.


Ah! Turn me not away,
Receive me tho’ unworthy;
Hear Thou my cry,
Behold, Lord, my distress!
Answer me from thy throne
Haste Thee, Lord to mine aid,
Thy pity show in my deep anguish!
Let not the sword of vengeance smite me,
Though righteous thine anger, O Lord!

Shield me in danger, O regard me!
On Thee, Lord, alone will I call.

O Divine Redeemer!
I pray Thee, grant me pardon,
and remember not, remember not my sins!

Forgive me, O Divine Redeemer!

I pray Thee, grant me pardon, and remember not, O Lord, my sins.

Night gathers round my soul;
Fearful, I cry to Thee;
Come to mine aid, O Lord!
Haste Thee, Lord, haste to help me!
Hear my cry! Save me Lord in Thy mercy;
Hear my cry! Come and save me, O Lord!

O Divine Redeemer!
I pray Thee, grant me pardon,
and remember not, remember not, O Lord, my sins!

Save, in the day of retribution,
From Death shield Thou me, O my God!
O Divine Redeemer, have mercy!
Help me, my Savior!

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