Song for intercession

Written By:
Matt Osgood
Bible Refs: Rom 8:19-23, Matt 25:34-46, James 1:27
Lectionary Weeks: New Year's Day (Year A), New Year's Day (Year B), New Year's Day (Year C)

"When our songs (have mercy)" was orginally written after the Boxing Day tsunami, when it felt like there was nothing in our repertoire to sing in response.  It brings God's heart for justice into our times of singing, and reminds us that a vital part of our worship is to reach out with compassion to those in need, to steward our resources generously and to pray for those less fortunate than us.  It has been through a number of revisions, and this final version has proved really useful for using in times of intercession.

You can download the mp3 from this website and just play it in a service, or your worship band can play it live.  You can get the lead sheet and chord chart from  I’ve regularly led this song with just an acoustic guitar, and left space after each chorus for people to bring their own prayers, whether silently or spoken out loud altogether. A typical example of how the song might be used is:

Verse 1 & Chorus
Pray for the whole world, conflict areas, world leaders etc
Verse 2 & Chorus
Pray for specific areas of suffering and need, both globally and locally
Verse 3 & Chorus
Pray for us, that we would be used by God to bring healing and peace
Optional final Chorus

When our songs of joyful celebration
are drowned out by the groans of those in need,
echoing creation,
that's waiting like a prisoner to be freed.
Father we cry out,
how long until the pain and suffering cease?
We pray that your kingdom
would fill this world with justice, love and peace.

Have mercy, Lord, on the earth you created;
have mercy, Lord, through us.
Father, change our hearts, take our hands, raise our voices;
may we demonstrate your love.

Still the lonely widow fights for justice
and orphans are exploited and oppressed.
Help us change our culture,
for we're not the only ones who should be blessed.
We must hear Jesus:
'When you show love to those who are in need,
and care for the captive,
it's just as though you do these things for me.’

Father, you have giv’n to us so freely,
now help us to be generous with our wealth.
All we have is yours, Lord -
how could we only use it for ourselves?
Give us compassion
for those who need the comfort we can bring,
the hungry and hopeless,
who wait for us to practise what we sing.

© Matt Osgood /, Administered by The Jubilate Group 4 Thorne Park Road, Torquay TQ2 6RX, UK

Matt has worked as the Worship Pastor at St Stephen's Church, East Twickenham, and previously at St John's, Harborne. He co-leads, a worship song site, and has been involved leading worship and playing keyboards at Spring Harvest and New Wine.

Comments / Responses

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Previous Comments:

Sid Bridges
01 Jun 2009 17:57
we're loving this track and are looking forward to sharing it with our discipleship groups (young and old) in the coming days......challenging words and images....thanks for the resource. sid
John Pickersgill
30 Dec 2009 19:20
Thanks for this song and powerpoint. We used them in Church on Sunday. We used the slide of the words of the chorus as a response between sections of intercessory prayers in the first half of the service and then played the whole powerpoint with the song at the end the sermon (based on the ministry of John the Baptist as recorded in Luke 3:1-18). The powerful words and images fitted perfectly with the challenge of the sermon.
Beverly Beck
27 May 2011 15:40
Thanks for this Song, we are having a prayer service in a couple of weeks and I've been looking for a song for the part of the service I'm doing of prayer for the nations/missions and this song is awesome.
Liz Morris
04 Mar 2012 14:49
A truly prophetic song. We used this as our prayer of intercession during worship this morning.
Thanks, Liz
Fran Yates
26 Sep 2012 08:20
I used this song and Powerpoint while leading intercessions last Sunday, and invited the congregation to keep their eyes open.
Started with spoken prayer for the many suffering areas of the world, then the MP3 and Powerpoint were played; I spoke brief prayers for our local concerns in the space after chorus 1 & 2. Also had one of the worship leaders sign the choruses. Very effective and appreciated. Did need practising in advance. Fran, Torquay
Sandy Southgate
15 Oct 2012 15:40
We used the powerpoint presentation along with Matt Osgood's song on MP3, fitting in beautifully with the theme of The Lord's Prayer. Our little rural family-service congregation had very appreciative things to say about it all (we have just recently acquired a screen and powerpoint projector and have used it once a month over the past few months for our monthly family service). I feel this would be a great song for us to learn, as it's subject matter is challenging and thought-provoking.
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