The Book of Common Prayer
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    The Proposed Book of Common Prayer (1689)


The proper Office for

(See Ash Wednesday.)


After Morning Prayer, the Litany ended according to the accustomed manner, the Minister shall, in the Reading Pew or Pulpit, say,

BRETHREN, this time of Lent upon which we are now entered was, by the Ancient Church, observed very religiously, and set apart; all men examining themselves for true fasting, and for the due preparation of all persons for the worthy receiving the Communion at Easter, and was of good use till superstition corrupted it, when all the fasting of this season came to be placed in a distinction of meats, upon which an undue value was set; and instead of men's humbling themselves before God, and mourning for their sins and turning to God with all their hearts, and bringing forth fruits worthy of repentance, Auricular Confession, together with Outward Penances, were the things mainly insisted on. But in order to the rectifying these abuses, and returning to the ancient practice, you must know that fasting is of no value, but as it is joined with prayer, and the afflicting of our souls before God. Nor does it consist in the distinction of meats, but in such a restraint of bodily appetites as disposes the mind more for prayer. Nor are fasting, prayer, or our sorrowing for sin, of any value in the sight of God, but as they tend to work in us true repentance; which is a real change both of our heart and life by which we become assured of God's love and favour to us; since by this only we can certainly know that God has forgiven our sins, if we ourselves do truly forsake them. But in order to your understanding aright the necessity of fasting and prayer, I shall set before you good and evil, life and death, blessing and cursing, in the words of God himself, who cannot lie, and in whom there is neither variableness nor shadow of turning. I shall read to you both some of the blessings of the Gospel, as also some of the heavy denunciations of God's wrath, that are set down in the New Testament: that in these you may see both the blessedness to which our Saviour calls us, as also the dreadful judgments of God against impenitent sinners; and that by these you may be warned to flee from the wrath which is to come, and to lay hold on eternal life.


    Minister. Blessed are the poor in spirit : for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
    People. Lord, have mercy upon us, and make us partakers of this blessing.
    Minister. Blessed are they that mourn : for they shall be comforted.
    People. Lord, have mercy upon us, and make us partakers of this blessing.
    Minister. Blessed are the meek : for they shall inherit the earth.
    People. Lord have mercy upon us, and make us partakers of this blessing.
    Minister.Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness : for they shall be filled.
    People. Lord have mercy upon us, and make us partakers of this blessing.
    Minister. Blessed are the merciful : for they shall obtain mercy.
    People. Lord have mercy upon us, and make us partakers of this blessing.
    Minister.Blessed are the pure in heart : for they shall see God.
    People. Lord, have mercy upon us, and make us partakers of this blessing.
    Minister. Blessed are the peacemakers : for they shall be called the children of God.
    People. Lord, have mercy upon us, and make us partakers of this blessing.
    Minister. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake : for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
    People. Lord, have mercy upon us, and endue us with all these graces, and make us partakers of the blessedness promised to them, we humbly beseech thee.
    Minister. You have already heard the blessings promised to the obedient, now hear the judgments of God denounced against sinners.
    Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Cor. vi. 9, 10.)
    People. O Lord, preserve us from these sins, and from thy wrath which they justly deserve.
The works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulation wrath, strife, seditious, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. (Gal. v. 19-22.)
    People. O Lord, preserve us from these sins, and from thy wrath which they justly deserve.
This ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, or covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no man deceive you with vain words, for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. (Eph. v. 5, 7.)
    People. From these and all other sins, and from thy wrath which they justly deserve, save and deliver us, we humbly beseech thee, O Lord.



NOW seeing that all they are blessed who truly obey God according to his holy Word; let his goodness lead us to repentance, and to such a godly, righteous, and sober life, that we may not fall short of the blessedness which he hath promised to all that love him. And seeing that all they are accursed (as the prophet David beareth witness) who do err and go astray from the commandments of God; let us (remembering the dreadful judgments hanging over the heads of the wicked, and always ready to fall upon them) return unto our Lord God, with all contrition and meekness of heart; bewailing and lamenting our sinful life acknowledging and confessing our offences, and seeking to bring forth worthy fruits of repentance. For now is the axe put unto the root of the trees, so that every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire is hewn down, and cast into the fire. It is a fearful thing to fail into the hands of the living God: He shall pour down rain upon the sinners, snares, fire and brimstone, storm and tempest; this shall be their portion to drink. For lo, the Lord is come out of his place to visit the wickedness of such as dwell upon the earth. But who may abide the day of his coming? Who shall be able to endure when he appeareth? His fan is in his hand, and he will purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the barn; but he will burn the chaff with unquenchable fire. The day of the Lord cometh as a thief in the night: and when men shall say, Peace, and all things are safe, then shall sudden destruction come upon them, as sorrow cometh upon a woman travailing with child, and they shall not escape. Then shall appear the wrath of God in the day of vengeance, which obstinate sinners, through the stubbornness of their heart, have heaped unto themselves; which despised the goodness, patience, and longsufferance of God, when he calleth them continually to repentance. Then shall they call upon me (saith the Lord) but I will not hear; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me; and that, because they hated knowledge, and received not the fear of the Lord, but abhorred my counsel, and despised my correction. Then shall it be too late to knock, when the door shall be shut; and too late to cry for mercy, when it is the time of justice. O terrible voice of most just judgement, which shall be pronounced upon them, when it shall be said unto them, Go, ye cursed, into the fire everlasting, which is prepared for the devil and his angels. Therefore, brethren, take we heed betime, while the day of salvation lasteth; for the night cometh, when none can work: But let us, while we have the light, believe in the light, and walk as children of the light; that we be not cast into utter darkness, where is weeping and gnashing of teeth. Let us not abuse the goodness of God, who careth us mercifully to amendment, and of his endless pity promiseth us forgiveness of that which is past, if with a perfect and true heart we return unto him. For though our sins be as red as scarlet, they shall be made white as snow; and though they be like purple, yet they shall be made white as w wool. Turn ye (saith the Lord) from all your wickedness, and your sin shall not be your destruction: Cast away from you all your ungodliness that ye have done: Make you new hearts, and a new spirit: Wherefore will ye die, O ye house of Israel? seeing that I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God. Turn ye then, and ye shall live. Although we have sinned, yet have we an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is the propitiation for our sins. For he was wounded for our offences, and smitten for our wickedness. Let us therefore return unto him, who is the merciful receiver of all true penitent sinners; assuring ourselves that he is ready to receive us, and most willing to pardon us, if we come unto him with faithful repentance; if we submit ourselves unto him, and from henceforth walk in his ways; if we will take his easy yoke and light burden upon us, to follow him in lowliness, patience, and charity, and be ordered by the governance of his Holy Spirit; seeking always his glory, and serving him duly in our vocation with thanksgiving. This if we do, Christ will deliver us from the curse of the law, and from the extreme malediction which shall light upon them that shall be set on the left hand; and he will set us on his right hand, and give us the gracious benediction of his Father, commanding us to take possession of his glorious kingdom: Unto which he vouchsafe to bring us all, for his infinite mercy. Amen.


Then shall they all kneel upon their knees, and the Priest and Clerks kneeling (in the place where they are accustomed to sag the Litany) shall say this Psalm.

Miserere mei, Deus. Psalm 51.

HAVE mercy upon me, O God, after thy great goodness : according to the multitude of thy mercies do away mine offences.
    Wash me throughly from my wickedness : and cleanse me from my sin.
    For I acknowledge my faults : and my sin is ever before me.
    Against thee only have I sinned and done this evil in thy sight : that thou mightest be justified in thy saying, and clear when thou art judged.
    Behold, I was shapen in wickedness : and in sin hath my mother conceived me.
    But lo, thou requirest truth in the inward parts : and shalt make me to understand wisdom secretly.
    Thou shalt purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean : thou shalt wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
    Thou shalt make me hear of joy and gladness : that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice.
    Turn thy face away from my sins : and put out all my misdeeds.
    Make me a clean heart, O God : and renew a right spirit within me.
    Cast me not away from thy presence : and take not thy holy Spirit from me.
    O give me the comfort of thy help again : and stablish me with thy free Spirit.
    Then shall I teach thy ways unto the wicked : and sinners shall be converted unto thee.
    Deliver me from blood-guiltiness, O God, thou that art the God of my health : and my tongue shall sing of thy righteousness.
    Thou shalt open my lips, O Lord : and my mouth shall shew thy praise.
    For thou desirest no sacrifice, else would I give it thee : but thou delightest not in burnt-offering.
    The sacrifice of God is a troubled spirit : a broken and contrite heart, O God, shalt thou not despise.
    O be favourable and gracious unto Sion : build thou the walls of Jerusalem.
    Then shalt thou be pleased with the sacrifice of righteousness, with the burnt-offerings and oblations : then shall they offer young bullocks upon thine altar.
    Glory be to the Father, and to the Son : and to the Holy Ghost;
    Answer. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be : world without end. Amen.

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

OUR Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy Name, Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, in 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, hear thy servants;
    Answer. Who have now made their supplications to thee.
    Minister. Lord, cause thy face to shine upon us.
    Answer. That we may evermore rejoice in thee.
    Minister. Put thy laws in our hearts.
    Answer. And remember our sins and iniquities no more.
    Minister. Help us, O God our Saviour.
    Answer. And for the glory of thy Name, deliver us; be merciful to us sinners, for the Name's sake.
    Minister. O Lord, hear our prayer.
    Answer. And let our cry come unto thee.

O LORD, we beseech thee, mercifully hear our prayers, and spare all those who confess their sins unto thee ; that they whose consciences accuse them of sin, 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 us 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 us therefore, good Lord, spare thy people, whom thou hast redeemed; enter not into judgement with thy servants, who are vile earth, and miserable sinners; but so turn thine anger from us, who humbly acknowledge our vileness, and truly repent us of our faults, and so help us in this world by thy grace, that, we may ever live with thee in the world to come; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Then shall the people say this that followeth, after the Minister.

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 after the multitude of thy mercies look upon us; Through the merits and mediation of thy blessed Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Then the Minister alone shall say,

THE Lord bless us, and keep us; the Lord lift up the light of his countenance upon us, and give us peace, now and for evermore. Amen.



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