A Penitential Service



This Office may be used as a separate service, or with Morning or Evening Prayer, Litany, or Holy Communion. When used with Morning or Evening Prayer, it may take the place of all that follows the Benedictus or Nunc Dimittis, beginning at Miserere Mei, Deus, Psalm 51.

When this Service is used alone, the Ministers and Clerks shall enter the Church in silence, and begin it with the Sentences following:

JESUS came into Galilee, preaching the Gospel of God and saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent ye and believe the Gospel.
St Mark 1. 14, 15.

All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.
St John 6. 37.

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
St Matthew 11. 28–30.

Then may be sung a penitential Hymn.

On Ash Wednesday or early in Lent, the Priest shall turn to the people and say the following Exhortation:

BRETHREN, in the primitive Church it was the custom to observe with great devotion the days of our Lord’s Passion and Resurrection, and to prepare for the same by a season of penitence and fasting. This season of Lent provided also a time in which converts to the faith were prepared for holy Baptism. It was also a time when such persons as had, by reason of notorious sins, been separated from the body of the faithful, were reconciled and restored to the fellowship of the Church by penitence and forgiveness. Thereby the whole Congregation was put in mind of the message of pardon and absolution contained in the Gospel of our Saviour, and of the need which all Christians continually have, of a renewal of their repentance and faith. I therefore invite you, in the name of the Church, to the observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance, by prayer, fasting, and self-denial, and by reading and meditation upon God’s holy Word.

Here shall be read the following LESSON: Joel 2. 12–18.

Then the Priest, in the place where he is accustomed to say the Litany, shall Say with the People, all kneeling, PSALM 51, Miserere Mei, Deus, page 394. After which he shall say:

Lord, have mercy upon us.
Christ, have mercy upon us.
Lord, have mercy upon us.

OUR Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy Name, Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; And forgive us our trespasses, As we forgive them that trespass against us; And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil. Amen.

Minister. O Lord, save thy servants;
People. That put their trust in thee.
Send unto them help from above;
People. And evermore mightily defend them.
Minister. Help us, O God our Saviour;
People. And for the glory of thy Name deliver us; be merciful unto us sinners, for thy Name’s sake.
Minister. O Lord, hear our prayer;
And let our cry come unto thee.

Here the Collect of the day shall be said if it be not used elsewhere in the Service. Then the prayers flowing shall be said.

O LORD, we beseech thee, mercifully hear our prayers, and spare all those who confess their sins unto thee; that they, whose consciences by sin are accused, by thy merciful pardon may be absolved; through Christ our Lord. Amen.

O MOST mighty God, and merciful Father, who hast compassion upon all men, and hatest nothing that thou hast made; who wouldest not the death of a sinner, but that he should rather turn from his sin, and be saved: Mercifully forgive our trespasses; receive and comfort us, who are grieved and wearied with the burden of our sins. Thy property is always to have mercy; to thee only it appertaineth to forgive sins. Spare, O Lord, spare thy people, whom thou hast redeemed; enter not into judgement with thy servants, who truly repent us of our faults, but so make haste to help us in this world, that we may ever live with thee in the world to come; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Then shall the Priest and people say:

TURN thou us, O good Lord, and so shall we be turned. Be favourable, O Lord, Be favourable to thy people, Who turn to thee in weeping, fasting, and praying. For thou art a merciful God, Full of compassion, long-suffering, and of great pity. Thou sparest when we deserve punishment, And in thy wrath thinkest upon mercy. Spare thy people, good Lord, Spare them, and let not thine heritage be brought to confusion. Hear us, O Lord, for thy mercy is great, And according to the multitude of thy mercies look upon us; Through the merits and mediation of thy blessed Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

If there be a Communion, the Priest may then begin the Communion, rehearsing the Ten Commandments, with the Collect, Epistle, and Gospel provided for Ash Wednesday.

If there be no Communion, the Priest shall read St Matthew 5. 1–20, or some other portion of the Sermon on the Mount, after which an instruction may be given.

He shall then end the Service with the devotions following, or other prayers from this Book.

Priest and People. Lord, for thy tender mercies’ sake, lay not our sins to our charge; But forgive that is past, and give us grace to amend our sinful lives; To decline from sin, and incline to virtue, That we may walk with a perfect heart before thee, now and evermore.
Priest. Remember, O man, that dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.
Lord, have mercy upon us.
Priest. Lord, hear our prayer.
People. And let our cry come unto thee.
Priest. Let us pray.

ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, who forgavest the people of Nineveh when they repented in sackcloth and ashes: Mercifully grant that we, truly repenting of our sins, may obtain of thee perfect pardon and release; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

O GOD our Father, who makest thy sun to rise upon the evil and upon the good, and sendest rain upon the just and upon the unjust: Help us to love our enemies, and to forgive those who trespass against us, that we may receive of thee the forgiveness of our sins, and be made thy children in spirit and in truth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

LORD of all power and might, who art the author and giver of all good things: Graft in our hearts the love of thy Name, increase in us true religion, nourish us with all goodness, and of thy great mercy keep us in the same; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

An Anthem, which may be said or sung, all kneeling:

O KING all glorious amid thy saintly company, / who ever shalt be praised:
Thou, O Lord, art in the midst of us, / and we are called by thy holy Name.
Leave us not, O our God; / but grant us that with a pure conscience we may duly keep the Paschal Feast,
And at the day of judgement / be placed in the number of thy Saints and chosen ones, King most blessed.

Then the minister alone shall say:

THE LORD bless us, and keep us. The LORD make his face to shine upon us, and be gracious unto us. The Lord lift up his countenance upon us, and give us peace, both now and evermore. Amen.