|The Book of Common Prayer|
A FORM OF PRAYER FOR
VISITATION OF PRISONERS.
¶ When Morning or Evening Prayer shall be read in any Prison, instead of the Psalm, O come, let us sing, &c., [or the Psalm "My Soul doth magnify", &c. ]* shall be read the 130th Psalm: and the Minister shall insert, after the Collect for the day, the Collect in the following Service, O God, who sparest, &c., and at such times as the Litany is not read, he shall add the Prayer, O God, merciful Father, who despisest not, &c.
* until 1793
not, Lord, our iniquities, nor the iniquities our forefathers; neither
take thou vengeance of our sins; spare us, good Lord, spare thy people,
whom thou hast redeemed with thy most precious blood, and be not angry
with us for ever.
Let us pray.
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 those who trespass
against us. And lead us not into temptation. But deliver us from evil.
The 1789 & 1786 Books have here only: OUR Father, who art in heaven, &c.
O Lord, show thy mercy upon us;
|In the 1892 book,"Minister", and "Answer" are omitted in the responses, and those said by the prisoner are italicized.|
GRANT, we beseech thee, Almighty God, that we, who for our evil deeds do worthily deserve to be punished, by the comfort of thy grace may mercifully be relieved; through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.
|This collect is omitted in the 1892 book.|
GOD, who sparest when we deserve punishment, and in thy wrath rememberest
mercy; We humbly beseech thee, of thy goodness to comfort and succour all
those who are under reproach and misery in the house of bondage; correct
them not in thine anger, neither chasten them in thy sore displeasure. Give
them a right understanding of themselves, and of thy threats and promises;
that they may neither cast away their confidence in thee, nor place it any
where but in thee. Relieve the distressed, protect the innocent, and awaken
the guilty: and forasmuch as thou alone bringest light out of darkness,
and good out of evil, grant that the pains and punishments which these thy
servants endure, through their bodily confinement, may tend to setting free
their souls from the chains of sin; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
||In the 1892 book, this prayer appears after the collect following the 51st Psalm.|
¶ Here the Minister, as he shall see convenient, may read the Prayer for All Conditions of Men, the Collect for Ash Wednesday, and the Collect [after the Offertory,]* beginning Almighty God, the fountain of all wisdom, &c., or any other prayer of the Liturgy, which he shall judge proper.
¶ Then shall the Minister exhort the Prisoner or Prisoners after this form, or other like.
beloved, know this, that Almighty God, whose never-failing providence
governeth all things both in heaven and earth, hath so wisely and mercifully
ordered the course of this world, that his judgments are often sent as
fatherly corrections to us; and if with due submission and resignation
to his holy will we receive the same, they will work together for our
¶ Here the Minister shall examine him concerning his faith, and rehearse the Articles of the Creed, Dost thou believe in God, &c. And the Prisoner shall answer,
All this I steadfastly believe.
Then shall the Minister examine whether he repent him truly of his sins,
and be in charity with all the world, and further admonish him particularly
concerning the crimes wherewith he is charged; and exhort him, if he have
any scruples, that he would declare the same, and prepare himself for
the Holy Communion, against the time that it may be proper to administer
it to him.
This rubric does not appear in the 1892 book.
* 1786 only.
1789 & 1786 Books:
¶ Then, all kneeling, the Minister shall say as follows, from the 51st Psalm,
¶ Then all kneeling the Minister shalt say the fifty-first Psalm of the Psalter, Miserere mei, Deus.
HAVE mercy upon me, O God, after thy great goodness; according to the multitude of thy mercies do away mine offences.
Wash me thoroughly 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 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 show thy praise.
For thou desirest no sacrifice, else would I give it thee; but thou delightest not in burnt-offerings.
The sacrifice of God is a troubled spirit: a broken and. contrite heart, O God, shalt thou not despise.
Psalm is printed out at length in the 1789 Book only; the 1786 Book has
HAVE mercy upon me, O God,
¶ Then the Minister shall say,
|Omitted in the 1892 Book; the introductory rubric is placed after the next Collect in the 1786 Book.|
¶ Here the Minister, as he shall see convenient, may read certain or all of these Prayers following, the Prayer for all Conditions of Men, or any other Prayer which he shall judge proper.
O GOD, whose nature and property is ever to have mercy and to forgive; Receive our humble petitions; and though we be tied and bound with the chain of our sins, yet let the pitifulness of thy great mercy loose us; for the honour of Jesus Christ, our Mediator and Advocate. Amen.
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.
GOD, whose mercy is everlasting, and power infinite; Look down with pity
and compassion upon the sufferings of this thy servant; and whether
thou visitest for trial of his patience, or punishment of his
offences, enable him by thy grace cheerfully to submit himself
to thy holy will and pleasure. Go not far from those, O Lord, whom thou
hast laid in a place of darkness, and in the deep; and forasmuch as thou
hast not cut him off suddenly, but chastenest him as
a father, grant that he, duly considering thy great mercies,
may be unfeignedly thankful, and turn unto thee with true repentance and
sincerity of heart; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
This rubric and collect appear only in the 1892 Book, after which the prayer, O GOD, who sparest when we deserve punishment, ... is inserted.
Engraving accompanying the Visitation of Prisoners, from an 1843 edition.
¶ When a Criminal is under sentence of death, the Minister shall proceed[, immediately after the Collect, O God, who sparest, &c.,]* to exhort him after this form, or other like.
beloved, it hath pleased Almighty God, in his justice, to bring you. under
the sentence and condemnation of the law. You are shortly to suffer death
in such a manner, that others, warned by your example, may be the more
afraid to offend; and we pray God, that you may make such use of your
punishments in this world, that your soul may be saved in the world to
¶ Here the Minister shall examine him concerning his faith, and rehearse the Articles of the Creed, Dost thou believe in God, &c. And the Criminal shall answer,
All this I steadfastly believe.
Then shall the Minister examine whether he repent him truly of his sins,
exhorting him to a particular confession of the sin for which he is condemned;
and upon confession, he shall instruct him what satisfaction ought to
be made to those whom he has offended thereby; and if he knoweth any combinations
in wickedness, or any evil practices designed against others, let him
be admonished to the utmost of his power to discover and prevent them.
* Omitted in 1892 Book.
After his confession, the Priest* shall declare to him the pardoning mercy
of God, in the form which is used in the Communion Service.
|* "Minister" until 1838.|
¶ After which shall be said the Collect following.
HOLY Jesus, who, of thine infinite goodness, didst accept the conversion
of a sinner on the cross; Open thine eye of mercy upon this thy servant,
who desireth pardon and forgiveness, though in his latest hour
he turneth unto thee. Renew in him whatsoever hath been
decayed by the fraud and malice of the devil, or by his own carnal
will and frilliness. Consider his contrition; accept his
repentance; and forasmuch as he putteth his full trust
only in thy mercy, impute not unto him his former sins, but strengthen
him with thy blessed Spirit: and when thou art pleased to take
him hence, take him unto thy favour. This we beg through
thy merits, O Lord, our Saviour and our Redeemer. Amen.
|"Amen" in Roman type here and in the following prayer in the 1789 Book until 1845.|
¶ Then shall the Minister say,
O FATHER of mercies, and God of all comfort; We fly unto thee for succour in behalf of this thy servant, who is now under the sentence of condemnation. The day of his calamity is at hand, and he in accounted as one of those who go down into the pit. Blessed Lord, remember thy mercies; look upon his infirmities; hear the voice of his complaint; give him, we beseech thee, patience in this his time of adversity, and support under the terrors which encompass him; set before his eyes the things he hath done in the body, which have justly provoked thee to anger; and forasmuch as his continuance appeareth to be short amongst us, quicken him so much the more by thy grace and Holy Spirit; that he, being converted and reconciled unto thee, before thy judgments have cut him off from the earth, may at the hour of his death depart in peace, and be received into thine everlasting kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
¶ Adding this.
O SAVIOUR of the world, who by thy Cross and precious Blood hast redeemed us; Save us, and help us, we humbly beseech thee, O Lord.
¶ Then the Minister, standing shall say,
the midst of life we are in death: of whom may we seek for succour, but
of thee, O Lord, who for our sins art justly displeased?
¶ Then the Minister shall say,
THE Almighty God, who is a most strong tower to all those who put their trust in him, to whom all things in heaven, in earth, and under the earth, do bow and obey, Be now and evermore thy defence; and make thee know and feel, that there is none other Name under heaven given to man, in whom, and through whom, thou mayest receive salvation, but only the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
¶ And after that shall say,
God's gracious mercy and protection we commit thee. The Lord bless thee,
and keep thee. The Lord make his face to shine upon thee, and be gracious
unto thee. The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace,
both now and evermore. Amen.
1786, 1789 Books:
¶ At the time of execution, besides all, or such parts of the foregoing Office as, the Minister shall judge proper, shall be said the Commendatory Prayer for a person at the point of departure, as it is in the Visitation of the Sick.
At the time of Execution, the Minister shall use such devotions as he
shalt think proper.
The Collect for the Communion Service.
O GOD, who declarest thy almighty power chiefly in showing mercy and pity; We beseech thee to have mercy upon this thy servant, who for his transgressions is appointed to die. Grant that he may take thy judgments patiently, and repent him truly of his sins; that he recovering thy favour, the fearful reward of his actions may end with this life; and whensoever his soul shall depart from the body it may be without spot presented unto thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Epistle. Heb. xii. 11.
NO chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous; nevertheless, afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness, unto them which are exercised thereby.
The Gospel. St. John v. 24.
VERILY, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on Him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.
A Prayer for imprisoned Debtors.
MOST gracious God, look down in pity and compassion upon these thine afflicted servants, who are fallen under the misery of a close restraint. Give them always a deep sense of their sins, and of thy fatherly love and correction; and the more their confinement presseth hard upon them, the more let the comforts of thy grace and mercy abound towards them. Give to their creditors tenderness and compassion, and to them a meek and forgiving spirit towards all those who have confined them, and a full purpose to repair all the injuries and losses which others have sustained by them. Raise them up friends to pity and relieve them; give them the continued comfort of thy countenance here; and so sanctify their afflictions, that they may work for them an eternal weight of glory through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord. Amen.
This prayer is omitted in the 1892 Book.
Return to the 1786 Proposed, 1789, 1892 Book of Common Prayer
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