The Book of Common Prayer
United States England Scotland Ireland Wales Canada World

    The Book of Common Prayer of the Church of Ireland: Penitential Service




¶ After Morning Prayer, the Litany ended according to the accustomed manner, the Priest shall, in the Reading pew or Pulpit, say,

BRETHREN, there hath been, from ancient times, a godly custom in the Church, that, at the beginning of Lent, Christian people should be admonished, in an especial manner, of the great indignation of God against sin, and be moved thereby to earnest and true repentance, lest any be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.
    Remembering, therefore that the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness, let us 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.


This service, originally developed from the 1662 Book's Commination Against Sinners service, was extensively reworked for the 1926 Book.

    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. It is a fearful thing to fall 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 long-sufferance of God, when he called them continually to repentance. 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.

Matt. 3. 10.
Heb. 10. 31.

Ps. 11. 6.

Isa. 26. 21.
Mal. 8.2.

Matt. 3.12.

1 Thess. 5. 2, 3.



Rom. 2. 4, 5.


Matt. 25. 10,11,12.

Matt. 25. 41.

    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 calleth 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 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.

2 Cor. 6.2.

John 9.4.
John 12. 35, 36.
Matt.25. 30.


Isa. 1. 18.


Ezek. 18. 30, 31, 32.


1 John 2. 1, 2.


Isa. 53. 5.


Matt. 11. 29, 30.



Matt. 25. 33, 34.

    And now, brethren, I beseech you to ponder secretly in your hearts the commandments of God, and, humbling yourselves before him, to consider your ways, meekly kneeling upon your knees.

¶ Then shall the Minister read the following Sentences collected out of holy Scripture leaving short spaces for silent prayer, all kneeling.


THE first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; the Lord our God is one Lord: and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.


Mark 12. 29, 30.

    No man can serve two masters : for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

Matt. 6. 24.

    Let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: for our God is a consuming fire.
    Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.

Heb. 12. 28, 29.

Rev. 4. 8

    Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness.
    Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another.
Matt. 6.33.
Heb. 10. 25.
    Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.
    Render to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom ; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.
Eph. 6. 1.
Rom. 13. 7.
He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hash eternal life abiding in him. Whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue ; but in deed and in truth.
1 John 3. 14-18
Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.
    God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.

1 Cor. 6. 19, 20.


1 Thess. 4. 7.

    Putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.
    Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.

Eph. 4. 25, 28.
Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law.
    Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil-speaking, be put away from among you, with all malice.

James 4. 11.

Eph. 4. 31.

    Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.
    Godliness with contentment is great gain. They that will be rich fall into tempts- tion and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.

Luke 12. 15.


1 Tim. 6. 6,9, 10.

¶ Then shall the Minister say,

SEARCH me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any way of wickedness in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
    If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

¶ Then, all still kneeling upon their knees, the Priest and Clerks kneeling (in the place where they are accustomed say the Litany) shall say this Psalm:

Miserere mei, Deus.
Psalm 51.

HAVE mercy upon me, O God, after thy great goodness : according to 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 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 desireth no sacrifice, else would I give it thee : but thou delights not in burnt-offerings.
    The sacrifice of God is a troubled spirit : a broken and contrite heart, O God, shalt thou not despise.

    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, Aswe forgive them that trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation; But deliver us from evil. Amen.

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

    Minister. Let us pray.

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 shod 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 meekly acknowledge our vileness, and truly repent us of our faults and 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 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 Thinketh 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 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 for evermore. Amen.

¶ If it be found convenient, this Office may follow Evening Prayer.

¶ If there be a Sermon, all that precedes the Fifty-first Psalm may be omitted from the Office.


Return to the Book of Common Prayer of the Church of Ireland

Web author: Charles Wohlers U. S. EnglandScotlandIrelandWalesCanadaWorld