Download the sheet music and listen to a recording (with vocals or accompaniment only) of Catherine’s original song: “Repent and Forgive.” (Copyright © 2017 Catherine Doxey White. This song may be copied for incidental, noncommercial church or home use.)
Our remarkable guest author Catherine is back! Mother of five children ages 7-22, Catherine loves to sing (very loudly and occasionally off-tune), scrapbook, read, and write. She is the author of the LDS young adult novel, Cupcake Girl (Walnut Springs Press). She has written a few songs, from the silly to the sacred. Catherine writes:
Ever since she was a very young child, my daughter Janie has been very hard on herself when she makes mistakes. If she accidentally hurts someone, Janie feels so bad that that she cries harder and longer than the person she hurt. Though Janie is only seven years old, she already has a repertoire of self-criticism to beat herself up with when she makes mistakes.
One Sunday morning I was in the car and was thinking about how to help Janie better understand the repentance process, and more importantly, the deep love that our Father in Heaven and Savior Jesus Christ have for her. I was blessed with a gift of inspiration as this song began to take shape in my mind: “When I make a mistake, I know just what to do—I will turn to the Lord to repent.”
I tried to include in the lyrics each step of the repentance process, from the ABCD’s (A—Admit; B—Be sorry; C—Confess; D—Don’t do it again) to the Repentance R’s (Recognize, Remorse, Repent, Right the Wrong, and Repeat the sin no more). When I shared the lyrics with my brother-in-law, he noted the irony that I’d written a song about repentance that was not about the Savior. The original lyrics were too much about what WE do to repent and very little about the miracle of what actually happens: the Savior extends His grace to change us and make us clean.
I stopped trying to cram each step of the repentance process into the song, and changed the lyrics to hopefully capture the humility and awe we feel when we repent. I changed the last few lines of the song to a testimony of the Savior: “I know Jesus will help change my heart. Through His mercy and grace, Christ will make my soul clean, when I turn to the Lord to repent.”
I was blessed with another gift when I started singing the words to the second verse: “And when someone wrongs me, I know just what to do—I will turn to the Lord to forgive.” This verse required additional thought and prayer, since to my knowledge, there isn’t a recognized process or series of steps for forgiveness like there is for repentance. The strength to forgive and ability to find peace after pain always comes from the Savior. His atonement helps us to heal as we exercise faith to forgive.
My inspired friend and co-author, Andrea Landaker, suggested that we repeat the phrase “I know Jesus will help change my heart” in both verses. A change of heart is the essence of both repentance and forgiveness as we humble ourselves and turn to the Lord.
Though I originally thought that I was writing this song to help Janie, I quickly realized how much I need its inspiration and hope to both repent and forgive. I pray that this song will help Janie and children everywhere to “know just what to do” as they humbly turn to the Lord in faith to both repent and forgive.
For sheet music, a recording of the song, acknowledgments, more resources, and more information about Catherine (author of the lyrics and melody) and Andrea (arranger of the music), click here.
See another powerful, relevant song by Catherine published on this blog: My Mind’s a Sacred Place: Arm Your Children with the Power of Music to Fend Off the Evils of Pornography!
For another memorable original song published first on this blog, see The Power of Music: NEW Samuel the Lamanite song (with sheet music)!