Service of Repentance

The Service of Repentance is designed to help believers enter into the spirit of contrition as they prepare for the traditional Rite of Confession.  This version consists of the Trisagion prayers, Psalm 50, the Prayer of Manasseh, The Canon of Repentance (abridged), and the the Litany of Repentance.  The Canon of Repentance intentionally resembles sections of the Funeral Service.

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Complete Service of Repentance (PDF)

Service of Repentance

Behold, spiritual child, our Lord Jesus Christ stands invisibly receiving your confession. Therefore, be neither ashamed, nor afraid and conceal nothing. Rather, without hesitation repent for all you have done and you shall receive pardon from our Lord Jesus Christ. Behold, His holy icon and His presence symbolized by the Holy Gospel Book that is before us, the priest is but a witness before Him bearing testimony of the things for which you are no repentant. You must mention all your sins before receiving absolution; otherwise you shall have a greater sin. Therefore, take heed, lest having come to the Physician, you depart unhealed. Approach with faith and love, with true sorrow and repentance that you may leave purified and cleansed of all sin.

– from “Prayers and Instructions Regarding Confession”, UOC-USA Prayer Book

Introductory Prayers

Priest: Blessed is Our God, now and ever, and unto ages of ages.

Penitents: Amen.

(Tone 6) O Heavenly King, the Comforter, Spirit of Truth, everywhere present and filling all things. Treasury of Blessings and Giver of Life; come and dwell in us, cleanse us from every impurity, and save our souls, O Good One.

Cantor: Holy God. Holy Mighty. Holy Immortal. Have mercy on us. (thrice)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Most Holy Trinity, have mercy on us. Lord, cleanse us from our sins. Master, pardon our transgressions.

Holy One, visit and heal our infirmities, for Your name’s sake.

Lord have mercy. (thrice)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Penitents: Our Father Who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.

Priest: For Thine is the Kingdom, and Power, and the Glory of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto the ages of ages.

Cantor: Amen.

Lord have mercy. (12 times)

Come let us worship God Our King!
Come let us worship and bow down before Christ, Our King and God!
Come let us worship and bow down before Christ Himself, Our King and Our God.

Psalm 50
(A Psalm of Repentance)

Have mercy on me, God, in Your great loving-kindness and in Your abundant compassion blot out my transgressions.

Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions; and my sin is continually before me.

Against You alone have I sinned and done evil before You: so that You are justified in Your sentence and blameless in Your judgment.

Behold, I was brought forth into iniquity and in sins did my mother conceive me. Behold, You love truth in the inner being; therefore, teach me wisdom in my secret heart.

Sprinkle me with hyssop and I shall be clean: wash me and I shall be whiter than snow.

You will make me hear joy and gladness and my afflicted bones shall rejoice. Turn Your face away from my sins and blot out all my iniquities.

Create in me a clean heart, God and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from Your presence and take not Your holy Spirit from me.

Restore to me the joy of Your salvation. Uphold me with a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors Your ways; and sinners will return to You.

Deliver me from blood guiltiness, God, the God of my salvation and my tongue shall joyfully declare Your deliverance.

Lord, open my lips and my mouth shall proclaim Your praise.

For You have no delight in sacrifice, if I would give burned offerings, you would not be pleased. The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; and a broken and contrite heart, God, You will not despise.

Lord, do good to Zion in Your good pleasure and rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.

Then shall You be pleased with a sacrifice of righteousness, with oblations and whole burnt offerings. Then they will offer calves upon Your altar.

The Prayer of Manasseh

Lord Almighty, God of our fathers, of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and of their righteous posterity: You have made heaven and earth with all their order; You have shackled the sea by Your word of command, You have confined the deep and sealed it with Your terrible and glorious name.

All things shudder at You and tremble before Your power, for Your glorious splendor cannot be borne and the wrath of Your threat to sinners is irresistible; yet immeasurable and unsearchable is Your promised mercy, for You are the Lord Most High, of great compassion, long suffering, very merciful, and You repent over the evils of mankind. You, Lord, according to Your great goodness, have promised repentance and forgiveness to those who have sinned against You, and in the multitude of Your mercies You have appointed repentance for sinners, that they may be saved.

Therefore, Lord God of the righteous, You have not appointed repentance for the righteous, for Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who did not sin against You; but You have appointed repentance for me, a sinner. For the sins I have committed are more in number than the sands of the sea; my transgressions are multiplied, Lord, they are multiplied!

I am unworthy to look up and see the height of heaven because of the multitude of my iniquities. I am weighed down with many an iron fetter, so that I am rejected because of my sins, and I have no relief; for I have provoked Your wrath and have done what is evil in Your sight, setting up abominations and multiplying offenses.

And now I bend the knee of my heart, beseeching You for Your kindness. I have sinned, Lord, I have sinned, and I know my transgressions. I earnestly beseech You, forgive me, Lord, forgive me!

Do not destroy me with my transgressions.

Do not be angry with me forever or lay up evil for me.

Do not condemn me to the depths of the earth.

For You, Lord, are the God of those who repent, and in me You will manifest Your goodness; for, unworthy as I am, You will save me in Your great mercy, and I will praise You continually all the days of my life.

For all the host of heaven sings Your praise and Yours is the glory for ever.

Amen.

Canon of Repentance (Tone 6)
(To our Lord Jesus Christ; abbreviated)

Ode 1

Irmos: When Israel passed on foot, over the sea as if it were dry land, and beheld their pursuer, Pharaoh, drowning in the sea, they cried aloud unto God: let us sing a song of victory.

Penitents: Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me.

Now I, a burdened sinner, approach Thee, my Lord and God. But I dare not raise my eyes to Heaven. I only pray, saying: Give me, O Lord, the sense to weep bitterly over my deeds.

Penitents: Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me.

O woe is me, a sinner! Wretched am I above all others. There is no penitence in me. Give me tears tears, O Lord so that I may weep bitterly over my deeds.

Penitents: Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Foolish, wretched man, you are wasting your time in idleness! Think of your life and turn to the Lord God, and weep bitterly over your deeds.

Penitents: Now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Theotokion: Most pure Mother of God, look upon me, a sinner, and deliver me from the snares of the devil, and guide me to the way of repentance, that I may weep bitterly over my deeds.

Ode 3

Irmos: There is none so holy as You, O Lord my God, Who has exalted the power of Your faithful, O Blessed One, and has established us upon the rock of Your confession.

Penitents: Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me.

When the thrones are set at the dread judgment, then the deeds of all men will be laid bare. Then alas for the sinners sent to torment! And knowing that, my soul, repent of your evil deeds.

Penitents: Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me.

The righteous will rejoice, but the sinners will weep. Then no one will be able to help us, but our deeds will condemn us. Therefore, before the end dawns, repent of your evil deeds.

Penitents: Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Woe is me, a great sinner, who have defiled myself by my deeds and thoughts. Not a tear-drop do I have, because of my hard-heartedness. Now raise yourself from the earth, my soul, and repent of your evil deeds.

Penitents: Now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Theotokion: Lo, your Son calls, O Lady, and teaches us what is good. But, sinful as I am, I always flee from the good. But do you, O merciful one, have mercy on me, that I may repent of my evil deeds.

Song 6

Irmos: Beholding the sea of life surging the storm of temptations, and taking refuge in Your calm haven I cry unto You: raise up my life from corruption, O greatly merciful One.

Penitents: Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me.

I have lived my life wantonly on earth and have delivered my soul to darkness. But now I implore You, O merciful Lord, free me from this work of the enemy and give me the knowledge to do Your will.

Penitents: Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me.

Who does such things as I do? For just like a swine lying in the mud, so do I serve sin. But do You, O Lord, pull me out of this vileness and give me the heart to follow Your commandments.

Penitents: Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:

Rise, wretched man, to God and, remembering your sins, fall down before your Creator, weeping and groaning, for He is merciful and will grant you to know His will.

Penitents: Now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Theotokion: Virgin Mother of God, protect me from evil visible and invisible, O immaculate one, and accept my prayers and convey them to thy Son, that He may grant me the sense to do His will.

Lord, have mercy. (thrice).

Penitents: Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Kondak (Tone 6): O my soul, my soul; why do you become rich in sins? Why do you do the will of the devil? On what do you set your hope? Stop these things and turn to God with tears, and cry: O Merciful Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Oikos: Think, my soul, of the bitter hour of death and the awful judgment of your God and Creator. For terrible Angels will seize you, my soul, and will lead you into the eternal fire. And so, before your death, repent and cry: …

Penitents (Tone 6): … O Merciful Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Ode 8

Irmos: You made flame sprinkle the Saints with dew, and didst burn the sacrifice of a righteous man with water. For You alone, O Christ, do all that You will. Therefore we glorify You throughout all the ages.

Penitents: Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me.

(Tone 8) I weep and I wail when I think upon death. / For I have seen my brother lying in the tomb, / disfigured and bereft of glory and form. / What, then, do I expect? / And what do I hope for? // Only grant me, O Lord, repentance before my end. (Twice)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: /

I believe that You will come to judge the living and the dead, / and all will stand in order, / old and young, lords and princes, priests and virgins. / Where shall I find myself? // Therefore I cry: grant me, O Lord, repentance before my end.

Now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen. /

Most pure Mother of God, / accept my unworthy prayer / and preserve me from sudden death; // and grant me repentance before my end.

Ode 9

Irmos: It is not possible for humans to see God, upon whom the ranks of angels dare not gaze. But through You, O All-pure One, was the Word Incarnate revealed unto mankind; wherefore with the heavenly hosts we call you blessed.

Penitents: Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me.

I now have recourse to you, holy Angels, Archangels, and all the Heavenly Hosts who stand at the throne of God: pray to your Creator that He may save my soul from eternal torment.

Penitents: Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me.

Now I turn to you with tears, holy patriarchs, kings and prophets, apostles and holy prelates, and all Christ’s elect: help me at the judgment, that He may save my soul from the power of the enemy.

Penitents: Glory to the Father, awl to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:

Now I lift my hands to you, holy martyrs, hermits, virgins, righteous and all the saints, who pray to the Lord for the whole world, that He may have mercy on me at the hour of my death.

Penitents: Now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Theotokion: O Mother of God, help me who have strong hope in you; implore your Son that He may place me on His right hand, unworthy as I am, when He sits to judge the living and the dead. Amen.

Prayer after the Canon

Lord Jesus Christ our God, Who has healed my passions through Your Passion, and has cured my wounds through Your wounds, grant me who have sinned greatly against You tears of compunction. Transform my body with the fragrance of Your life-giving Body, and sweeten my soul with Your Holy Blood from the bitterness with which the foe has fed me. Lift up my downward looking mind to You, and take it out of the pit of perdition, for I have no repentance, I have no compunction, I have no consoling tears, which uplift children to their heritage. My mind has been darkened through earthly passions, I cannot look up to You in pain. I cannot warm myself with tears of love for You. But, O Lord Jesus Christ, Treasury of good gifts, give me thorough repentance and a diligent heart to seek You; grant me Your grace, and renew in me the contours of Your image. I have forsaken You – do not forsake me! Come out to seek me; lead me up to Your pasturage and number me among the lambs of Your chosen flock. Nourish me with them on the grass of Your Holy Mysteries. by the prayers of Your Most Pure Mother and all Your saints. Amen.

Penitential Tropars (Tone 6)

Have mercy on us, Lord, have mercy on us. / For being devoid of all defense, / we sinners offer this prayer to You, as Master: // have mercy on us.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. /

Lord, have mercy on us / for in You do we hope. / Be neither exceedingly angry with us, / nor mindful of our transgressions, / but look upon us in Your tenderness / and deliver us from our enemies, / for You are Our God and we are Your People, / we are all the work of Your Hands // and we call upon Your name.

Now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen. /

Open for us the doors of loving-kindness, / Blessed Birth-Giver of God, / that we, who have hope in you may not perish, / but through you we may be delivered from all adversity, // for You are the salvation of Christian people.

Penitential Litany
With his voice, the priest now brings the penitents to the Judge Himself, (Eph. 3:12; Heb 4:12-16) and as the prophet, he puts the confession of all into words:

Priest: On bended knees (Ezr. 9:5,15), let us pray to the Lord in Peace (Rom. 5:1; Eph. 2:14,18). With our whole soul and with our whole mind (Dt. 6:5; Mt. 22-37) let us say:

Penitents: Lord have mercy. (thrice)

Priest: O Lord almighty! (2Sam. 7:27) O God of our fathers! (2Chron.20:6) You desire not the death of a sinner, but rather that he turn to You and live. (Ezek. 33:11) We pray You, hear us and have mercy.

Penitents: Lord have mercy. (thrice)

Priest: Have mercy on us, O God, according to your great mercy! (Ps. 50:3) We pray You, hear us and have mercy.

Penitents: Lord have mercy. (thrice)

Priest: You detest those who worship false gods. (Ps. 30:7) But there were times when we gave ourselves to self-indulgence, (Gal. 5:16+) and to money, (Mt. 6:24), and to escape from responsibility. (Eccl. 11:1+; Mr. 25:24+) We have sinned against You, Lord. We pray You, hear us and have mercy.

Penitents: Lord have mercy. (thrice)

Priest: There were times when we grieved Your Holy Spirit with whom we were sealed for the day of redemption, (Eph. 4:30) when we were blind to your wonders, (Ps. 138:14; Job 36:24+) when we were deaf to your word, (Heb. 12:25) when we preferred ignorance to discerning Your will. (Eph. 5:17) We have sinned against You, Lord. We pray You, hear us and have mercy.

Penitents: Lord have mercy. (thrice)

Priest: There were times when we were discouraged by our trials and our pain (1 Pet. 1:6+) like people without hope, (Eph. 2:11) when we did not pray as we ought, (Rom. 12:12; Philip. 4:6,7) when we did not trust in You as the Lord Jesus commands. We have sinned against You, Lord. We pray You, hear us and have mercy.

Penitents: Lord have mercy. (thrice)

Priest: There were times when we were careless, thoughtless, and indifferent, when we missed opportunities, when we squandered time. (Eph. 5:16) We have sinned against You, Lord. We pray You, hear us and have mercy.

Penitents: Lord have mercy. (thrice)

Priest: There were times when we wronged our neighbor, (Rom. 13:10) when we did not treat others the way we would have them treat us. (Mt. 7:12) We knew the right thing to do and did not do it. (Jas. 4:17) We have sinned against You, Lord. We pray You, hear us and have mercy.

Penitents: Lord have mercy. (thrice)

Priest: There were times when we lacked compassion, (Lk. 6:36) and generosity, times when we were slow to understand and forgive, (Col. 3:13) but quick to judge and condemn. (Jas. 4:12) We profess faith without practicing it. (Jas. 2:14) We have sinned against You, Lord. We pray You, hear us and have mercy.

Penitents: Lord have mercy. (thrice)

Priest: There were times when we corrupted the holiness of the temple of our hearts and bodies (1 Cor. 3:16), when we lusted after flesh to which we were not wed (1 Cor. 6:15-17), when we offered up strange fire (Lev.10:1), pursued strange flesh (Jude 1:7), and gave ourselves over to pleasure and self-indulgence (Gal. 5:16). We have sinned against you, Lord. We pray You, hear us and have mercy.

Penitents: Lord have mercy. (thrice)

Priest: There were times when we were angry but fell into sin, (Eph. 4:26; Jas 1:20) times when we nursed feelings of resentment, and revenge, (Rom. 12:19) when we bore grudges. (Eph. 4:31) We have sinned against You, Lord. We pray You, hear us and have mercy.

Penitents: Lord have mercy. (thrice)

Priest: There were times when we said things we regret, (Eph. 4:29) when we told lies, (Eph. 4:25) when we did not control our tongues. (Jas. 1:26) Blessing and cursing came out of the same mouth. (Jas. 3:10) And there were times when we broke our promises, when we failed to honor our word. We have sinned against You, Lord. We pray You, hear us and have mercy.

Penitents: Lord have mercy. (thrice)

Priest: There were times when we were unfair, (Jas. 2:9) times when we condoned injustice, (Rom. 1:32) times when we did not stand up for what is right. (Jas. 1:27) We have sinned against You, Lord. We pray You, hear us and have mercy.

Penitents: Lord have mercy. (thrice)

Priest: There were times when we were selfish, (Rom. 15:1) and small, times when we were jealous, and quarrelsome, and disagreeable. We have sinned against You, Lord. We pray You, hear us and have mercy.

Penitents: Lord have mercy. (thrice)

Priest: There were times when we were vain, and self-important, (2 Cor. 12:20) and disrespectful, (Rom. 13:1+) times when we were conceited, and provocative, and envious. (Gal. 5:26) We have sinned against You, Lord. We pray You, hear us and have mercy.

Penitents: Lord have mercy. (thrice)

Priest: Hear us, O God Our Savior, the hope of the very ends of the earth and of those who live beyond the seas. (Ps. 64:5) All of us fall short in many ways, (Jas. 3:2) but we have come to know and to believe in the love You have for us. (1 Jn. 4:16) Pardon us, reconcile us, and unite us to Your holy Church, through Jesus Christ Our Lord, so that we may have fellowship with You and with one another now (1 Jn. 1:6+) and confidence on the day of judgment. (1 Jn. 4:17)

Wipe out all our offenses, (Ps. 50:11) and enable us to do Your will in all things.

Help us! Save us! Have mercy on us! And raise us up (all rise), O God, by Your grace! (Ap. Const. viii) Through the compassions and love for mankind (Wis. 7:23) of Your only (Wis. 7:22) Begotten Son with Whom You are blest, together with Your All-Holy and Good, and Life-Creating Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages.

Penitents: Amen.

Priest: Remember, in regard to all that you have confessed and repented, you must now be on guard. You are receiving a second baptism according to the mystery of Christ. You must see to it that with God’s help, you make good a new beginning. Above all, you must not deal lightly with your sinfulness, lest you become a cause of scorn to others, for this does not befit an Orthodox Christian. May God, by His grace, help you to live honourably, uprightly, and devoutly. (“Prayers and Instructions Regarding Confession”, UOC-USA Prayer Book).

The priest may now offer a word of encouragement to the penitents, after which individuals may come forward for confession and absolution.

The End.

Glory to God for all things!

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