March 14: Psalm 51

March 14: Psalm 51

Fourth Penitential Psalm

77.77.77                   Redhead (Go to Dark Gethsemane)
Dix (For the Beauty of the Earth)

God, be merciful to me; on Thy grace I rest my plea;

In Thy vast, abounding grace, my transgressions all erase.

Wash me wholly from my sin; cleanse me from the ill within.

For my sins before me rise, ever present to my eyes.

I have sinned ‘gainst Thee alone, in Thy sight this evil done;

That Thy judgment may be clear, and Thy sentence just appear.

Lo, I was brought forth in sin; from conception, I have been.

Surely Thou desires to find truth sincere within the mind:

And Thou wilt within my heart wisdom unto me impart.

Then with hyssop sprinkle me, and from sin I clean shall be.

Wash me from its stain, and lo, I shall whiter be than snow.

Make me hear joy’s cheering voice; make my broken bones rejoice.

From my sins hide Thou Thy face; my iniquities erase.

O my God, renew my heart, and a spirit right impart,

Cast me not away from Thee, nor Thy Spirit take from me.

Give salvation’s joy again, and a willing mind sustain.

Then Thy perfect ways I’ll show that transgressors may them know.

They converted then shall be; sinners shall be turned to Thee.

Free me from the guilt of blood, God, of my salvation God;

Then with joy my tongue shall raise songs Thy righteousness to praise.

Open Thou my lips, O Lord; then my mouth shall praise accord.

Sacrifice Thou wilt not take, else would I the off’ring make.

Off’rings burnt bring no delight, but a broken heart, contrite,

God’s accepted sacrifice, Thou, O God, wilt not despise.

Prosper Zion in Thy grace; Salem’s broken walls replace.

Then shall sacrifices right, whole burnt off’rings Thee delight;

So will men, their vows to pay, bullocks on Thine altar lay.

With the famous words of David’s prayer, we pray for God’s mercy and forgiveness. This is the liturgical prayer of the church: Miserere (Have mercy), prayed in preparation for the celebration of the Eucharist. As we stand before the Lord of hosts, as Isaiah did, we realize that we are people of unclean lips.

“The true sense of our sinfulness does not come from measuring the distance between our own conduct and the grandeur of the moral law. Oh no, it is only in the overwhelming presence of the Holy One Himself that we sinners know how utterly sinful we are. It is what Job experienced when he found himself standing naked in the presence of the Holy One…no more could he claim innocence. Never again could he point to alleged purity of his conscience. The pretense was over. Job must simply repent: ‘I have heard of you, but now my eyes see You. Therefore, I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes’ (Job 42:5). This overwhelming holiness of God, the source of profound repentance, is particularly related to the coming of the Holy Spirit, for it is our pride and sinfulness that grieve and impede the operation of God’s sanctifying Spirit. And so we pray with David, ‘Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Cast me not away from Your presence, and take not Your Holy Spirit from me.’” (Reardon, p. 99-100)

Kyrie eleison; Christe eleison; Kyrie eleison

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