TO BE PRAYED DURING LENT: THE SEVEN PENITENTIAL PSALMS
Begin by making the Sign of the Cross, saying, “In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen”, in order to honour and invoke the all-powerful Holy Trinity and also to recall our Saviour Jesus Christ’s loving sacrifice on the Cross which He did for us all to be saved.
Before each psalm you pray this antiphon: “Remember not, O Lord, our or our parents’ offences: neither take vengeance of our sins.” After the last of the seven psalms, pray: “Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end.” Finish your prayer with the Sign of the Cross as in the beginning, to thank the Holy Trinity and to thank our Lord Jesus for His suffering on the Cross for love of us, our ancestors and all mankind.
O Lord, in your anger do not reprove; nor punish me in your fury. Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I have no strength left. O Lord, heal me, for my bones are in torment. My soul also is greatly troubled. How long, O Lord, how long? How long will you be? Come back to me, O Lord, save my life; rescue me for the sake of your love. For no one remembers you in the grave; who will praise you in the world of the dead?
I am weary with moaning; I weep every night, drenching my bed with tears. My eyes have grown dim from troubles; I have weakened because of my foes. Away from me, you evildoers, for the Lord has heard my plaintive voice. The Lord has heard my plea; the Lord will grant all that I pray for. Let my enemies fall back in shame, all of a sudden – the whole bunch of them!
Blessed is the one whose sin is forgiven, whose iniquity is wiped away. Blessed are those in whom the Lord sees no guilt and in whose spirit is found no deceit. When I kept my sin secret, my body wasted away, I was moaning all day long. Your hand day and night lay heavy upon me; draining my strength, parching my heart as in the heat of a summer drought. Then I made known to you my sin and uncovered before you my fault, saying to myself, “To the Lord I will now confess my wrong.” And you, you forgave my sin, you removed my guilt.
So let the faithful ones pray to you in time of distress; the overflowing waters will not reach them. You are my refuge; you protect me from distress and surround me with songs of deliverance. I will teach you, I will show you the way to follow. I will watch over you and give you counsel. Do not be like the horse or the mule – senseless and led by bit and bridle. Many woes befall the wicked, but the Lord’s mercy enfolds those who trust in him. Rejoice in the Lord, and be glad, you who are upright; sing and shout for joy, you who are clean of heart.
O Lord, rebuke me not in your rage, punish me not in your fury. Your arrows have struck me; your hand has come down heavily upon me. Your anger has spared no part of my body, my sin gives no peace to my bones. For my transgressions overwhelm me; they weigh me down like an unbearable load. My wounds stink and fester within me, the outcome of my sinful folly. Stooped and bowed down, I go about mourning all day. My loins burn, my flesh is diseased, my body, worn out and utterly crushed; I groan in pain and anguish of heart. All my longing, O Lord, is known to you; my sighing is not hidden from you. My heart pounds as my strength ebbs; even the light has deserted my eyes. My friends avoid me because of my wounds; my neighbours stay far off. Those who seek my life lay snares for me; those who wish to hurt me speak of my ruin and plot against me all day long.
But like a deaf-mute, I neither hear nor open my mouth. I am like one whose ears hear not and whose mouth has no answer. For I put my trust in you, O Lord; you will answer for me, Lord God. I will pray, “Don’t let them gloat over me, nor take advantage of my helplessness when my foot slips. For I am about to fall, my pain is ever with me. I confess my transgression, I repent of my sin. Many are my foes; many are those who hate me for no reason, those who pay me evil for good and harass me because I seek good. Forsake me not, O Lord, stay not far from me, O my God. Come quickly to help me, O Lord, my saviour!
Have mercy on me, O God, in your love. In your gret compassion blot out my sin. Wash me thoroughly of my guilt; cleanse me of evil. For I acknowledge my wrongdoings and have my sins ever in mind. Against you alone have I sinned; what is evil in your sight I have done. You are right when you pass sentence and blameless in your judgment. For I have been guilt-ridden from birth, a sinner from my mother’s womb. I know you desire truth in my heart, teach me wisdom in my inmost being. Cleanse me with hyssop and I shall be clean, wash me, I shall be whiter than snow. Fill me with joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. Turn your face away from my sins and blot out all my offences. Create in me, O God, a pure heart; give me a new and steadfast spirit.
Do not cast me out of your presence nor take your holy spirit from me. Give me again the joy of your salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit. Then I will show wrongdoers your ways and sinners will return to you. Deliver me, O God, from the guilt of blood, and of your justice I shall sing aloud. O Lord, open my lips, and I will declare your praise. You take no pleasure in sacrifice; were I to give a burnt offering, you would not delight in it. O God, my sacrifice is a broken spirit; a contrite heart you will not despise. Shower Zion with your favour: rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Then you will delight in fitting sacrifices, in burnt offerings and bulls offered on your altar.
O Lord, hear my prayer; let my cry for help come to you. Do not hide your face from me when I am in trouble. Turn your ear to me; make haste to answer me when I call. For my days are passing away like smoke, my bones burning like a furnace. Like withered grass, my heart is blighted, and I forget to eat my bread. Because of my great grief I am reduced to skin and bones. I am like an owl in the wilderness, like a vulture among the ruins. I awake moaning like a lonely bird on the housetop. All day long I am taunted by my enemies; they use my name as a curse. The bread I eat is ashes, my drink is mingled with tears, for your wrath, your fury; for you have thrown me aside. My days are vanishing like shadows at night; I wither away like grass. But you, O Lord, you sit forever; your name endures through all generations.
Arise, have mercy on Zion; this is the time to show her your mercy. For your servants cherish her stones, and are moved to pity by her dust. O Lord, the nations will revere your name, and the kings of the earth your glory, when the Lord will rebuild Zion and appear in all his splendour. For he will answer the prayer of the needy and will not despise their plea. Let this be written for future ages, “the Lord will be praised by a people he will form.” From his holy height in heaven, the Lord has looked on the earth to hear the groaning of the prisoners, and free those condemned to death. Then the name of the Lord will be cleared in Zion, and his praise in Jerusalem, when the peoples and the kingdoms assemble to worship him. My walk has exhausted me, he has cut short my days. I cry to him, “My God, do not take my life in mid-course, you whose days are from age to age.” In the beginning you laid the earth’s foundation, the heavens are the work of your hands. Although they perish, you will remain; they will wear out like a garment, you change them like clothes: they pass away, but you remain the same, your years unending. Your servants’ children will dwell secure; their posterity will endure without fail.
Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord, O Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears pay attention to the voice of my supplication. If you should mark our evil, O Lord, who could stand? But with you is forgiveness, and for that you are revered. I waited for the Lord, my soul waits, and I put my hope in his word. My soul expects the Lord more than watchmen the dawn. O Israel, hope in the Lord, for with him is unfailing love and with him full deliverance. He will deliver Israel from all its sins.
O Lord, hear my prayer, listen to my cry for mercy; answer me, you who are righteous and faithful. Do not bring your servant to judgment, for no mortal is just in your sight. The enemy has pursued me, crushing my life to the ground, sending me to darkness with those long dead. And so my spirit fails me, my heart is full of fear. I remember the days of long ago; I meditate on what you have done and consider the work of your hand. I stretch out my hands to you, and thirst for you like a parched land.
O Lord, answer me quickly: my spirit is faint with yearning. Do not hide your face from me; save me from going down to the pit. Let the dawn bring me word of your love, for in you alone I put my trust. Show me the way I should walk, for to you I lift up my soul. Rescue me from my enemies, O Lord, for to you I flee for refuge. Teach me to do your will, for you are my God. Let your Spirit lead me on a safe path. Preserve me, O Lord, for your name’s sake; free me from distress, in your justice. You who are merciful, crush my enemies and destroy all my foes, for I am your servant.