Uncommon Repentance—The Book of Common Prayer (1552)

The “General Confession” in The Book of Common Prayer[1] first appeared in the 1552 edition and has remained relatively unchanged to this day. The author of the prayer is unknown, but he was certainly familiar with the Bible and the awe which comes from contemplating the greatness of God in comparison to the wickedness of man. While the popularity of formal prayers has waned, the eloquent “General Confession” is a reminder that true worship begins with humility.

Almighty and most merciful Father;
We have erred, and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep.
We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts.
We have offended against thy holy laws.
We have left undone those things which we ought to have done;
And we have done those things which we ought not have done;
And there is no health in us.
But thou, O Lord, have mercy on us, miserable offenders.
Spare thou those, O God, who confess their faults.
Restore thou those who are penitent;
According to thy promises declared unto mankind
in Christ Jesus our Lord.
And grant, O most merciful Father, for his sake;
That we may hereafter live a godly, righteous, and sober life,
To the glory of thy holy Name. Amen[2]

[1] For an online copy of The Book of Common Prayer (1552), visit: http://justus.anglican.org/resources/bcp/1552/BCP_1552.htm.

[2] “A General Confession,” The Book of Common Prayer: And Administration of the Sacraments and other Rites and Ceremonies of the Church; According to the Use of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America (New York: Oxford University Press, 1896), 19-20.