Cloisters of Saint John Lateran, Rome. Source:

Sunday, 6 April 2014

The Seven Penitential Psalms. Part Three.

Roman Text is taken from The Liturgical Year, by Abbot Guéranger, O.S.B.
Translated from the French by Dom Laurence Shepherd, O.S.B.
Volume 4. Septuagesima.

Bold Italic Text is taken from Wikipedia - the free encyclopaedia,
unless otherwise stated.

File:Saint Augustine Portrait.jpg

English: Saint Augustine of Hippo.
Deutsch: Hl. Augustinus in betrachtendem Gebet.
Four of the Penitential Psalms
were well known to Saint Augustine of Hippo.
Artist: Sandro Botticelli (1445–1510).
Date: Circa 1480.
Current location: Florence, Italy.
Notes: Deutsch: Auftraggeber: wahrscheinlich aus der Familie der Vespucci (Wappen).
Source/Photographer: The Yorck Project: 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei.
DVD-ROM, 2002. ISBN 3936122202. Distributed by DIRECTMEDIA Publishing GmbH.
Permission: [1].
(Wikimedia Commons)

The Penitential Psalms, or Psalms of Confession, so named in Cassiodorus's commentary of the 6th-Century A.D., are Psalms 6323850102130, and 143 (6, 31, 37, 50, 101, 129, and 142 in the Septuagint numbering).

Note: The Septuagint numbering system has been used throughout this Series of Articles.

Psalm 6.      Domine ne in furore tuo (Pro octava).

Psalm 31.    Beati quorum remissae sunt iniquitates.
Psalm 37.    Domine ne in furore tuo (In rememorationem de sabbato).
Psalm 50.    Miserere mei Deus.
Psalm 101.  Domine exaudi orationem meam et clamor meus ad te veniat.
Psalm 129.  De profundis clamavi.
Psalm 142.  Domine exaudi orationem meam auribus percipe obsecrationem meam.

A Setting by Lassus of Psalm 129,
"De profundis clamavi ad te Domine"
("Out of the depths have I cried unto Thee, O Lord").
Psalm 129 is one of the Seven Penitential Psalms.
Available on YouTube on


Part Three.

The royal Prophet feels the consequences left in him by past sins, and he begs God to have pity on him.

Psalm 37. Domine ne in furore tuo (In rememorationem de sabbato).

Domine ne in furore tuo arguas me:
* neque in ira tua corripias me.

Quoniam sagittae tuae infixae sunt mihi:
* et confirmasti super me manum tuam.

Non est sanitas in carne mea a facie irae tuae:
* non est pax ossibus meis a facie peccatorum meorum.

Quoniam iniquitates meae supergressae sunt caput meum:
* et sicut onus grave gravatae sunt super me.

File:Saint Augustine Portrait.jpg

Putruerunt, et corruptae sunt cicatrices meae,
* a facie insipientiae meae.

Miser factus sum, et curvatus sum usque in finem:
* tota die contristatus ingrediebar.

Quoniam lumbi mei impleti sunt illusionibus:
* et non est sanitas in carne mea.

Afflictus sum et humiliatus sum nimis:
* rugiebam a gemitu cordis mei.

File:Saint Augustine Portrait.jpg

Domine, ante te omne desiderium meum:
* et gemitus meus a te non est absconditus.

Cor meum conturbatum est, dereliquit me virtus mea:
* et lumen oculorum meorum, et ipsum non est mecum.

Amici mei et proximi mei:
* adversum me appropinquaverunt et steterunt.

Et qui juxta me erant, de longe steterunt:
* et vim faciebant qui quaerebant animam meam.

File:Saint Augustine Portrait.jpg

Et qui inquirebant mala mihi, locuti sunt vanitates:
* et dolos tota die meditabantur.

Ego autem tanquam surdus non audiebam:
* et sicut mutus non aperiens os suum.

Et factus sum sicut homo non audiens:
* et non habens in ore suo redargutiones.

Quoniam in te, Domine, speravi:
* tu exaudies me, Domine Deus meus.

File:Saint Augustine Portrait.jpg

Quia dixi: Nequando supergaudeant mihi inimici mei:
* et dum commonventur pedes mei, super me magna locuti sunt.

Quoniam ego in flagella paratus sum:
* et dolor meus in conspectu meo semper.

Quoniam iniquitatem meam annuntiabo:
* et cogitabo pro peccato meo.

Inimici autem mei vivunt, et confirmati sunt super me:
* et multiplicati sunt qui oderunt me inique.

File:Saint Augustine Portrait.jpg

Quit retribuunt mala pro bonis, detrahebant mihi:
* quoniam sequebar bonitatem.

Ne derelinquas me, Domine Deus meus:
* ne discesseris a me.

Intende in adjutorium meum:
* Domine, Deus salutis meae.

File:Saint Augustine Portrait.jpg

Rebuke me not, O Lord, in Thy indignation:
Nor chastise me in Thy wrath.

For Thine arrows are fastened in me:
And Thy hand hath been strong upon me.

There is no health in my flesh, because of Thy wrath:
There is no peace in my bones, because of my sins.

For my iniquities are gone over my head:
And as a heavy burden, are become heavy upon me.

File:Saint Augustine Portrait.jpg

My sores are putrefied and corrupted:
Because of my foolishness.

I am become miserable and am bowed down even to the end:
I walked sorrowful all the day long.

For my loins are filled with illusions:
And there is no health in my flesh.

I am afflicted and humbled exceedingly:
I roared with the groaning of my heart.

File:Saint Augustine Portrait.jpg

O Lord, all my desire is before Thee:
And my groaning is not hidden from Thee.

My heart is troubled, my strength hath left me:
And the light of mine eyes itself is not with me.

My friends and my neighbours have drawn near:
And stood against me.

And they that were near me, stood afar off:
And they that sought my Soul, used violence.

File:Saint Augustine Portrait.jpg

And they that sought evils to me, spoke vain things:
And studied deceits all the day long.

But I as a deaf man heard not:
And as a dumb man not opening his mouth.

And I became as a man that heareth not:
And that hath no reproofs in his mouth.

For in Thee, O Lord, have I hoped:
Thou wilt hear me, O Lord my God.

File:Saint Augustine Portrait.jpg

For I said: Lest at any time mine enemies rejoice over me:
And while my feet are moved, they speak great things against me.

For I am ready for scourges:
And my sorrow is continually before me.

For I will declare my iniquity:
And I will think for my sin.

But mine enemies live, and are stronger than I:
And they that hate me wrongfully, are multiplied.

File:Saint Augustine Portrait.jpg

They that render evil for good have detracted me:
Because I followed goodness.

Forsake me not, O Lord my God:
Do not Thou depart from me.

Attend unto my help, O Lord:
The God of my salvation.

File:Saint Augustine Portrait.jpg

The Seven Penitential Psalms are expressive of sorrow for sin. Four were known as 'Penitential Psalms' by Saint Augustine of Hippo in the early 5th-Century. Psalm 50 (Miserere) was recited at the close of daily Morning Service in the Primitive Church.

Translations of the Penitential Psalms were undertaken by some of the greatest poets in Renaissance England, including Sir Thomas WyattHenry Howard, Earl of Surrey, and Sir Philip Sidney. Before the Suppression of the Minor Orders and Tonsure, in 1972, by Pope Paul VI, the Seven Penitential Psalms were assigned to new Clerics after having been Tonsured.

Orlande de Lassus'
"Psalmi Davidis poenitentiales".

This is a Setting of Psalm 6, "Domine, ne in furore tuo arguas me",
("O Lord, do not reprove me in Thy wrath, nor in Thy anger chastise me").
Psalm 6 is the first of the Seven Penitential Psalms.
Available on YouTube on

Perhaps the most famous musical setting of all the Seven Penitential Psalms is by Orlande de Lassus, with his Psalmi Davidis poenitentiales of 1584. There are also fine settings by Andrea Gabrieli and by Giovanni Croce. The Croce pieces are unique in being settings of Italian sonnet-form translations of the Psalms by Francesco Bembo. These were widely distributed. They were translated into English and published in London as Musica Sacra and were even translated (back) into Latin and published in Nürnberg as Septem Psalmi poenitentiales.

William Byrd set all Seven Psalms in English versions for three voices in his Songs of Sundrie Natures (1589). Settings of individual Penitential Psalms have been written by many composers. Well-known settings of the Miserere (Psalm 50) include those by Gregorio Allegri and Josquin des Prez. Settings of the De profundis (Psalm 129) include two in the Renaissance era by Josquin.


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