14 February 2018

Ash Wednesday Liturgy (The Anglican Service Book USA)


In the USA, Anglo-Catholic Episcopalians produced a version of The Book of Common Prayer, 1979 that would accord with Anglo-Catholic ceremonial and tradition.  In large measure their book entitled "The Anglican Service Book" put the contemporary English of the US 1979 Prayer Book into traditional Prayer Book English. (For those unfamiliar with this tradition, the English is a relative of the English used in the Shakespearian plays). The translation of Psalm 51 is that of the Coverdale Psalter as it appeared in The Book of Common Prayer.

The Ash Wednesday Liturgy in The Anglican Service Book is envisioned as the Liturgy of the Word with the celebration of the Holy Eucharist to follow.  What you will find below is that Liturgy of the Word for the Imposition of Ashes.  On this Ash Wednesday I think it is salutary to extend our prayer throughout the day and the first days of Lent by studying or praying liturgical traditions and language we do not ordinarily encounter in our chapel, parish, or particular church on Ash Wednesday or, if we are Maronite Catholics, on Ash Monday.

Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Season of Lent, a time of spiritual warfare, of fasting, penitence, and preparation for the Easter feast. Beginning in the tenth century ashes were imposed on this day upon penitent sinners in preparation for their restoration to full communion with the Church. Since the eleventh century, ashes have been imposed upon all the faithful as a reminder that the wages of sin is death. As God said to Adam, “dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” (Genesis 3:19b) But as we are marked with ashes in the same manner that we were signed with the cross in our Baptisms, we are also reminded that we only have life in Christ, the second Adam.

Before the service, ashes made from branches of palm or other trees which were blessed in the previous year shall be blessed.

The service may begin with the following introit.

Thou hast mercy upon all, O Lord, and abhorrest nothing which thou hast made, and dost overlook the sins of men, that they may repent, and thou sparest them: for thou art the Lord our God. (Wisdom 11) Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me: for my soul trusteth in thee. (Psalm 57). Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.  Thou hast mercy ...

Then shall the Celebrant say

Let us pray.

Almighty and everlasting God, who hatest nothing that thou hast made, and dost forgive the sins of all those who are penitent: Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of thee, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

   Old Testament   Joel 2:1-2, 12-17, or Isaiah 58:l-12
   Psalm 103, or 103:8-14
   Epistle               2 Corinthians S:20b-6:10
   Gospel              St Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21

After the Sermon, all stand, and the Celebrant or Minister appointed invites the people to the observance of a holy Lent, saying

Dear People of God: The first Christians observed with great devotion the days of our Lord’s passion and resurrection, and it became the custom of the Church to prepare for them by a season of penitence and fasting. This season of Lent provided a time in which converts to the faith were prepared for Holy Baptism. It was also a time when those who, because of notorious sins, had been separated from the body of the faithful were reconciled by penitence and forgiveness, and restored to the fellowship of the Church. Thereby, the whole congregation was put in mind of the message of pardon and absolution set forth in the Gospel of our Savior, and of the need which all Christians continually have to renew their repentance and faith. I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church, to the observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God's holy Word. And, to make a right beginning of repentance, and as a mark of our mortal nature, let us now kneel before the Lord, our maker and redeemer.

Silence is then kept for a time, all kneeling.

If ashes are to be imposed, the Celebrant says the following prayer

Almighty God, thou hast created us out of the dust of the earth: Grant that these ashes may be unto us a sign of our mortality and penitence, that we may remember that it is only by thy gracious gift that we are given everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.

The ashes are imposed with the following words

Remember, O man, that thou art dust, and unto dust shalt thou return.

The following Psalm is then sung or said

Psalm 51    Miserere mei, Deus

1 Have mercy upon me, O God, after thy great goodness; *
according to the multitude of thy mercies do away mine offenses.

2 Wash me throughly from my wickedness, *
and cleanse me from my sin.

3 For I acknowledge my faults, *
and my sin is ever before me.

4 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 shalt judge.

5 Behold, I was shapen in wickedness, *
and in sin hath my mother conceived me.

6 But lo, thou requirest truth in the inward parts, *
and shalt make me to understand wisdom secretly.

7 Thou shalt purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; *
thou shalt wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

8 Thou shalt make me hear of joy and gladness, *
that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice.

9 Turn thy face from my sins, *
and put out all my misdeeds.

10 Make me a clean heart, O God, *
and renew a right spirit within me.

11 Cast me not away from thy presence, *
and take not thy holy Spirit from me.

12 O give me the comfort of thy help again, *
and stablish me with thy free Spirit.

13 Then shall I teach thy ways unto the wicked, *
and sinners shall be converted unto thee.

14 Deliver me from blood-guiltiness, O God, thou that art the God of my health; *
and my tongue shall sing of thy righteousness.

15 Thou shalt open my lips, O Lord, *
and my mouth shall show thy praise.

16 For thou desirest no sacrifice, else would I give it thee; *
but thou delightest not in burnt offerings.

17 The sacrifice of God is a troubled spirit: *
a broken and contrite heart, O God, shalt thou not despise.

Litany of Penitence

The Celebrant and People together, all kneeling

Most holy and merciful Father:
We confess to thee and to one another,
and to the whole communion or saints
in heaven and on earth,
that we have sinned by our own fault
in thought, word, and deed;
by what we have done, and by what we have left undone.

The Celebrant continues

We have not loved thee with our whole heart, and mind, and strength. We have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We have not forgiven others, as we have been forgiven.
Lord, have mercy upon us.

We have not beard thy call to serve, as Christ served us. We have not been true to the mind of Christ. We have grieved thy Holy Spirit.
Lord, have mercy upon us.

We confess to thee, O Lord, all our past unfaithfulness: the pride, hypocrisy, and impatience of our lives,
We confess to thee, O Lord.

Our lust, gluttony, and abuse of others,
We confess to thee, O Lord.

Our anger, hatred, malice, and envy,
We confess to thee, O Lord.

Our laziness, intemperate love of worldly goods and comforts, and our dishonesty in daily life and work,
We confess to thee, O Lord.

Our negligence in prayer and worship, and our failure to commend the faith that is in us,
We confess to thee, O Lord.

Accept our repentance, O Lord, for the wrongs we have done: for our blindness to human need and suffering, and our indifference to injustice and cruelty,
Accept our repentance, O Lord.

For all false judgments, for uncharitable thoughts toward our neighbors, and for our prejudice and contempt toward those who differ from us,
Accept our repentance, O Lord.

For our poor stewardship and misuse of thy creation, and our lack of concern for the generations to come,
Accept our repentance, O Lord.

Restore us, good Lord, and let thy anger depart from us;
Favorably hear us, for thy mercy is great.

Accomplish in us the work of thy salvation;
That we may show forth thy glory in the world.

By the cross and passion of thy Son our Lord,
Bring us with all thy saints to the joy of his resurrection.

The Bishop, if present, or the Priest, stands and facing the people, says

Almighty God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who desireth not the death of sinners, but rather that they may turn from their wickedness and live, hath given power and commandment to his ministers to declare and pronounce to his people, being penitent, the absolution and remission of their sins. He + pardoneth and absolveth all those who truly repent, and with sincere hearts do believe his holy Gospel.

Therefore we beseech him to grant us true repentance and his Holy Spirit, that those things may please him which we do on this day, and that the rest of our life hereafter may be pure and holy, so that at the last we may come to his eternal joy; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

In the absence of a bishop or priest, all that precedes may be led by a deacon or lay reader who remains kneeling and substitutes the prayer for forgiveness appointed at Morning Prayer for the above. The Peace may then be exchanged.