10 Songs of Mercy and Reconciliation to Melt a Heart of Stone

There are literally dozens of beautiful songs on the themes of mercy, reconciliation, forgiveness and repentance that would be perfect for the season. We do have a few firm favourites though – the songs that are always at the top of the list when we are planning a service of reconciliation.

These songs work well before or after an examination of conscience; or during an open time of opportunity for the Sacrament of Reconciliation; or just as part of your own prayer journey during – especially during Lent.

It’s pretty difficult to pick an absolute favourite – these songs are very different. While some are great congregational songs, others are better as solos or choir songs. So, to make this simple we’ve listed them in alphabetical order.  Here goes…


1. COME BACK TO ME by Gregory Norbet

Based on Hosea, this 80’s folk hymnal classic got a modern re-working on the Boyce and Stanley album Age to Age II – The Journey Continues and remains a great gathering song for reconciliation services.

“Long have I waited for you coming home to me
and living deeply our new life.”

In this song, as in the book of Hosea, a wayward people is invited to return to God, who waits for us as the Bridegroom awaits his Bride.

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2. FATHER I HAVE SINNED (THE PRODIGAL SON) by Eugene O’Reilly CSsR

Every Lent this is one of the most searched-for songs on our website.  It’s a simple song, based on the story of the Prodigal Son and has really stood the test of time.  Each of the verses is take on the Prodigal’s well-rehearsed plea for forgiveness – “I will go to my father and say I have sinned against heaven and against you” {Luke 15:18}

In the chorus we hear the echo of the Father’s merciful response:

“I forgive you, I love you
you are mine, take my hand
Go in peace, sin no more
Beloved one”

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3. I BELONG by Kathryn Scott

Based on Romans 8:38-39, this song gently reminds us that no circumstance or sin can separate us from the love of God. And it reminds us whose we are. We fall into sin when we forget that we are His, and we get distracted by the many temptations, demands and challenges of life.

“Nothing can take me
from your great love
Forever this truth remains
I belong, I belong to you…”

Singing this simple refrain “I belong, I belong to you” is like the cry of the Prodigal overwhelmed in the loving embrace of a Forgiving Father. Just beautiful.

Jo Boyce’s interpretation of this song features on her debut solo EP In God Alone as a moving duet with drummer and guitarist, Emily Clark.


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4. KYRIE ELEISON by Keith Getty & Stuart Townend

We love this song for the call to justice inspired by the verses.  It reminds us that we sin not just by what we do, but also by what we fail to do for those most in need in our world. It’s also a great song for helping us to focus our works of justice, charity and alms-giving.

As we come before You
With the needs of our world,
We confess our failures and our sin,
For our words are many
Yet our deeds have been few;
Fan the fire of compassion
Once again.

The beautiful refrain, with its South African influence, can also be used alone as a sung response.

Kyrie Eleison (Audio Sample)

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5. MAKE ME HOLY by Aaron Thompson

This song is prayer that God will transform us and make us holy and he is holy. It’s a powerful prayer when we consider that the words heal, whole and holy have the same root.

“Redecorate me from within
Refurnish me with sacredness
rebuit me with a yearning love for you”

Many times in the scripture God promises to cleanse, heal and restore us. He promises to take our hearts of stone and give us hearts of flesh {Ezekiel 36:26}. All we have to do is come before him with humble, contrite heart, ready to change.

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6. REMEMBER NOT THE THINGS OF THE PAST by Bod Hurd

Inspired by Isaiah 43:18, this song reminds us of God’s redeeming action prefigured in the Old Testament and brought to completion in Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross.

Remember not the things of the past,
now I do something new…
Do you not see it?

Just as God led his people out of slavery in Egypt, the promise of the New Covenant is that he will lead us now, out of darkness and sin, to new life in Christ.

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7. SHOW MERCY by Jo Boyce

This song was written as the Penitential Rite for the Soli Mass (before the 2010 revised translation).  The three verses follow a Trinitarian formula – focussing first on the forgiving mercy of the Father; then the loving sacrifice of the Son, and the healing action of the Spirit.

“Show mercy to us loving Father
We have sinned against you,
please make us anew…”

This setting remains a firm favourite because of the accessible melody – simple enough for a whole congregation of all ages to sing.

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8. SONG OF THE PRODIGAL by Jo Boyce

In many ways this is Peter’s song.  The song of the disciple who is declaring their love of the Lord one minute and conveniently denying the Lord with their next breath.

But still I leave you Lord
and go walking my own way;
I don’t deserve you, Lord…

Although we desperately want to be faithful disciples, we spend so much of our time being Reluctant Discple’s (as our friend David Wells puts it in his book), forever on a journey of repentance and re-conversion.

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9. TURN MY HEART by Marty Haugen

There are a couple other Marty Haugen songs we could have listen here – Return to God and Come, Let us Return to the Lord (see how we sneaked them in anyway…) We chose Turn My Heart over the others because of the accessible litany-style verses.

Turn My Heart by Marty Haugen
Turn My Heart by Marty Haugen

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10. WERE I THE PERFECT CHILD by John L. Bell

These wonderful words are set to a traditional Scottish melody. There’s a lovely version recorded by Tony Alonso and Michael Mahler on the album Songs from Another Room.  The first verse concedes how our imperfect human nature foils all our best attempts to be faithful disciples of Christ.

“Were I the perfect child of God
Whose faith was deep and love was broad,
Not doubtful, guilty, worn or flawed,
I’d gladly follow Jesus.”

Songs from Another Room ~ Tony Alonso & Michael Mahler
Songs from Another Room ~ Tony Alonso & Michael Mahler

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We could go on…

There are so many others we could share, but these 10 are a great starting point.  Music is such a powerful way to turn hearts and minds towards God.  Many of these songs have moved us to tears on various occasions over the years. We pray that they will move you too, as you experience the embrace of a loving and merciful Father.


What are your favourite songs of mercy and reconciliation? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below…

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