Ash Wednesday reflections


Gregorio Allegri. Miserere mei, Deus [Psalm 51]

The Choir of New College Oxford, and the Capricorn Ensemble, directed by Edward Higginbottom, from the album Agnus Dei: Music of Inner Harmony 1996-98, Erato 3984 29588-2


1. Miserere mei Deus secundum magnam misericordiam tuam et secundum multitudinem miserationum tuarum dele iniquitatem meam
2. Amplius lava me ab iniquitate mea et a peccato meo munda me.
1. Have mercy on me, O God,
    according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
    blot out my transgressions.
2. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
    and cleanse me from my sin.
3. Quoniam iniquitatem meam ego cognosco et peccatum meum contra me est semper
4. Tibi soli peccavi et malum coram te feci ut justificeris in sermonibus tuis et vincas cum judicaris
5. Ecce enim in iniquitatibus conceptus sum et in peccatis concepit me mater mea
3 For I know my transgressions,
    and my sin is ever before me.
4. Against you, you alone, have I sinned,
    and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you are justified in your sentence
    and blameless when you pass judgement.
5. Indeed, I was born guilty,
    a sinner when my mother conceived me.
6. Ecce enim veritatem dilexisti incerta et occulta sapientiae tuae manifestasti mihi
7. Asparges me hysopo et mundabor lavabis me et super nivem dealbabor
8. Auditui meo dabis gaudium et laetitiam et exultabunt ossa humiliata
9. Averte faciem tuam a peccatis meis et omnes iniquitates meas dele
6. You desire truth in the inward being;
    therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart.
7. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
    wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
8. Let me hear joy and gladness;
    let the bones that you have crushed rejoice.
9. Hide your face from my sins,
    and blot out all my iniquities.
10. Cor mundum crea in me Deus et spiritum rectum innova in visceribus meis
11. Ne proicias me a facie tua et spiritum sanctum tuum ne auferas a me
12. Redde mihi laetitiam salutaris tui et spiritu principali confirma me
10. Create in me a clean heart, O God,
    and put a new and right spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me away from your presence,
    and do not take your holy spirit from me.
12. Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
    and sustain in me a willing spirit.
13. Docebo iniquos vias tuas et impii ad te convertentur
14. Libera me de sanguinibus Deus Deus salutis meae et exultabit lingua mea justitiam tuam
13. Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
    and sinners will return to you.
14. Deliver me from bloodshed, O God,
    O God of my salvation,
    and my tongue will sing aloud of your deliverance.
15. Domine labia mea aperies et os meum adnuntiabit laudem tuam
16. Quoniam si voluisses sacrificium dedissem utique holocaustis non delectaberis
15. O Lord, open my lips,
    and my mouth will declare your praise.
16. For you have no delight in sacrifice;
    if I were to give a burnt-offering, you would not be pleased.
17. The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit;
    a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
18. Benigne fac Domine in bona voluntate tua Sion et aedificentur muri Hierusalem
19. Tunc acceptabis sacrificium justitiae oblationes et holocausta tunc inponent super altare tuum vitulos
18. Do good to Zion in your good pleasure;
    rebuild the walls of Jerusalem,
19. then you will delight in right sacrifices,
    in burnt-offerings and whole burnt-offerings;
    then bulls will be offered on your altar.

Marked by Ashes by Walter Brueggemann
Prayers for a Privileged People. (Nashville: Abingdon, 2008):27-28.


Ruler of the Night, Guarantor of the day…
This day—a gift from you.
This day—like none other you have ever given, or we have ever received.
This Wednesday dazzles us with gift and newness and possibility.
This Wednesday burdens us with the tasks of the day, for we are already halfway home
     halfway back to committees and memos,
     halfway back to calls and appointments,
     halfway on to next Sunday,
     halfway back, half frazzled, half expectant,
     half turned toward you, half rather not.

This Wednesday is a long way from Ash Wednesday,
   but all our Wednesdays are marked by ashes—
     we begin this day with that taste of ash in our mouth:
       of failed hope and broken promises,
       of forgotten children and frightened women,
     we ourselves are ashes to ashes, dust to dust;
     we can taste our mortality as we roll the ash around on our tongues.

We are able to ponder our ashness with
   some confidence, only because our every Wednesday of ashes
   anticipates your Easter victory over that dry, flaky taste of death.

On this Wednesday, we submit our ashen way to you—
   you Easter parade of newness.
   Before the sun sets, take our Wednesday and Easter us,
     Easter us to joy and energy and courage and freedom;
     Easter us that we may be fearless for your truth.
   Come here and Easter our Wednesday with
     mercy and justice and peace and generosity.

We pray as we wait for the Risen One who comes soon.