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Miserere, by Italian composer Gregorio Allegri (1582-1652), is a setting of Psalm 51: It is the best known of the seven Penitential Psalms; the others are Psalms 6, 32, 38, 102, 130, and 143. These prayers are essential to our prayer life, leading us to reflect on God’s mercy, and our need to turn back to Him and be welcomed like the Prodigal Child when he recognizes his need for His father.

Take a moment and reflect on the Miserere (Psalm 51):

Have mercy on me, God, in your kindness. *
In your compassion blot out my offense.
O wash me more and more from my guilt *
and cleanse me from my sin.

My offenses truly I know them; *
my sin is always before me.
Against you, you alone, have I sinned; *
what is evil in your sight I have done.

That you may be justified when you give sentence *
and be without reproach when you judge.
O see, in guilt I was born, *
a sinner was I conceived.

Indeed you love truth in the heart; *
then in the secret of my heart teach me wisdom.
O purify me, then I shall be clean; *
O wash me, I shall be whiter than snow.

Make me hear rejoicing and gladness, *
that the bones you have crushed may revive.
From my sins turn away your face *
and blot out all my guilt.

A pure heart create for me, O God, *
put a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from your presence, *
nor deprive me of your holy spirit.

Give me again the joy of your help; *
with a spirit of fervor sustain me,
that I may teach transgressors your ways *
and sinners may return to you.

O rescue me, God, my helper, *
and my tongue shall ring out your goodness.
O Lord, open my lips *
and my mouth shall declare your praise.

For in sacrifice you take no delight, *
burnt offering from me you would refuse,
my sacrifice, a contrite spirit. *
A humbled, contrite heart you will not spurn.

In your goodness, show favor to Zion: *
rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.
Then you will be pleased with lawful sacrifice, *
holocausts offered on your altar.

The Return of the Prodigal Son by Rembrandt, 1669

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