After Mattins and the Litany.
¶ After Morning Prayer, the Litany ended according to the accustomed manner, the Priest 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.
In the Primitive Church there was a godly discipline, that, at the beginning of Lent, such persons as stood convicted of notorious sin were put out of the church to open penance, and punished in this world, that their souls might be saved in the day of the Lord; and that others, admonished by their example, might be the more afraid to offend. In place whereof, let us hearken to the example of our first ancestors:
A reading from the third chapter of Genesis.
Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of the serpent, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return. And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.
Let us, who have sinned in ignorance or knowledge amend our lives, lest we be suddenly overtaken by the day of Death, and seek space of repentance and find it not. 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 its substance consist merely in the distinction of meats, but in such a restraint of bodily appetites as disposes the mind more for prayer. The goal of fasting, prayer, and our sorrowing for sin, is 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.
¶ Then shall they all kneel upon their knees, and the Priest and Clerks kneeling (in the place where they are accustomed to say the Litany) shall say this Psalm.
Psalm 51. Miserere mei, deus.
V Kyrie eléyson. R Christe eléyson. Kyrie eléyson.
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.
V O Lord, save thy servants and handmaids. R That put their trust in thee.
V Send unto them help from above. R And evermore mightily defend them.
V Help us, O God our Saviour. R And for the glory of thy Name deliver us; be merciful to us sinners, for thy Name’s sake.
V O Lord, hear our prayer. R And let our cry come unto thee.
V The Lord be with you. R And with thy spirit.
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. R 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 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. R 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. Longsuffering, 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.
Imposition of Ashes
¶ The Priest shall then go to the Altar and bless the ashes:
Almighty and everlasting God, who hast compassion upon all men, and hatest nothing which thou hast made, passing over the sins of men for their penitence; who also succourest them that are in necessity: vouchsafe to bless + and sanctify + these ashes, which for humility and holy religion’s sake thou hast appointed us, after the manner of the Ninevites, to bear on our heads, for the doing away of our offences: and grant that by the invocation of thy Holy Name, all those who have so borne them for the entreating of thy mercy may be thought worthy to receive from thee pardon of all their sins, and this day so to begin their holy fast, that on the day of the Resurrection they may be admitted to the holy Paschal Feast with purified minds, and at length receive eternal glory. Through etc.
¶ The Priest then signs each person’s forehead with the ashes, saying,
! Remember, O man, that thou art dust, and unto dust shalt thou return. In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.
¶ While this is done, the choir shall sing this Anthem. The anthem shall be sung after each verse of its psalm.
Ant. Let us change our garments for sackcloth and ashes; let us fast and weep before the Lord, for our God is very merciful to put away our sins.
Psalm 69. Salvum me fac
¶ This Psalm may be sung only as far as required for the distribution of ashes.
¶ The Priest then says,
V The Lord be with you. R And with thy spirit.
Let us pray.
Grant us, Lord, we beseech thee, so to enter upon Christian warfare with this holy fast, that we who are about to fight against spiritual wickedness may be fortified with the aid of continence. Through etc.
¶ Then turning to the people, he says,
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. R. Amen.