The Seven Penitential Psalms

These seven psalms—6, 31, 37, 50, 101, 129, and 142—have long been associated with penitential devotions. St. Augustine is said to have had them placed before him to read while he was on his deathbed. They have also been often commended as a defense against the seven deadly sins, each Psalm being associated with one of them, and are prayed in sequence each day during Lent (or at least on the Fridays of Lent) while kneeling.



Ant. Ne reminiscaris, Domine, delicta nostra, vel parentum nostrorum, neque vindictam sumas de peccatis nostris.

Ant. Remember not, O Lord, our offenses, nor those of our parents, and take not revenge on our sins.

I. Psalm 6

David, struck down by sickness, asks pardon of God, and beseeches Him to heal the wounds of his soul.

Domine , ne in forure tuo arguas me: * neque in ira tua corripias me. O Lord , rebuke me not in thy indignation, nor chastise me in thy wrath.

Miserere mei, Domine, quoniam infirmus sum: * sana me Domine, quoniam conturbata sunt ossa mea.

Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I am weak; heal me, O Lord, for my bones are troubled.

Et anima mea turbata est valde: * sed tu Domine usquequo?

And my soul is troubled exceedingly: but thou, O Lord, how long?

Convertere, Domine, et eripe animam meam: * salvum me: fac propter misericordiam tuam.

Turn to me, O Lord, and deliver my soul: O save me, for thy mercy's sake.

Quoniam non est in morte qui memor sit tui: * in inferno autem quis confitebitur tibi?

For there is no one in death that is mindful of thee: and who shall confess to thee in hell?

Laboravi in gemitu meo, lavabo per singulas noctes lectum meum: * lacrymis meis stratum meum rigabo.

I have labored in my groanings, every night I will wash my bed: I will water my couch with my tears.

Turbatus est a furore oculus meus: * inveteravi inter omnes inimicos meos.

My eye is troubled through indignation: I have grown old among all mine enemies.

Discendito a me, omnes qui operamini iniquitatem: * quoniam exaudivit Dominus vocem fletus mei.

Depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity: for the Lord hath heard the voice of my weeping.

Exaudivit Dominus deprecationem meam: * Dominus orationem meam suscepit.

The Lord hath heard my supplication: the Lord hath received my prayer.

Erubescant et conturbentur vehementer omnes inimici mei: * convertantur et erubescant valde velociter.

Let all mine enemies be ashamed and be very much troubled: let them be turned back, and be ashamed very speedily.

Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto. Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper, et in sæcula sæculorum. Amen. Alleluia.

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. Alleluia.

II. Psalm 31

David experiences the happiness felt by a soul whose sins have been forgiven her by God; he expresses his feelings by comparing himself to a sick man who was at the point of death, and is restored to health.

Beati, quorum remissæ sunt iniquitates: * et quorum tecta sunt peccata. Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven: and whose sins are covered.

Beatus vir, cui non imputavit Dominus peccatum: * nec est in spiritu ejus dolus.

Blessed is the man, to whom the Lord hath not imputed sin: and in whose spirit there is no guile.

Quoniam tacui, inveteraverunt ossa mea: * dum clamarem tota die.

Because I was silent, my bones grew old: while I cried out all the day long.

Quoniam die ac nocte gravata est super me manus tua: * conversus sum in ærumna mea, dum configitur spina.

For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: I am turned in my anguish, while the thorn is fastened.

Delictum meum cognitum tibi feci: * et injustitiam meam nom abscondi.

I have acknowledged my sin to thee: and my injustice I have not concealed.

Dixi: Confitebor adversum me injustitiam meam Domino: * et tu remisisti impietatem peccati mei.

I said, I will confess against myself my injustice to the Lord: and thou hast forgiven the wickedness of my sin.

Pro hac orabit ad te omnis sanctus: * in tempore opportuno.

For this shall every one that is holy pray to thee, in a seasonable time.

Verumtamen in diluvio aquarum multarum: * ad eum non approximabunt.

And yet, in a flood of many waters they shall not come nigh unto him.

Tu es refugium meum a tribulatione, quæ circumdedit me: * exsultatio mea, erue me a circumdantibus me.

Thou art my refuge from the trouble which hath encompassed me: my joy! deliver me from them that surround me.

Intellectum tibi dabo, et instruam te in via hac qua gradieris: * firmabo super te oculos meos.

Thou hast said to me: I will give thee understanding, and I will instruct thee in this way in which thou shalt go: I will fix mine eyes upon thee.

Nolite fieri sicut equus et mulus: * quibus non est intellectus.

Do not become like the horse and the mule, who have no understanding.

In camo et freno maxillas eorum constringe: * qui non approximant ad te.

With bit and bridle bind fast their jaws, who come not near unto thee.

Multa flagella peccatoris: * sperantem autem in Domino misericordia circumdabit.

Many are the scourges of the sinner: but mercy shall encompass him that hopeth in the Lord.

Lætamini in Domino, et exsultate justi: * et gloriamini omnes recti corde.

Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice ye just: and glory, all ye right of heart.

Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto. Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper, et in sæcula sæculorum. Amen. Alleluia.

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. Alleluia.

III. Psalm 37

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

Domine, ne in furore tuo arguas me: * neque in ira tua corripias me. Rebuke me not, O Lord, in thy indignation: nor chastise me in thy wrath.

Quoniam sagitte tuæ infixæ sunt mihi: * et confirmasti super me manum tuam.

For thine arrows are fastened in me: and thy hand hath been strong upon me.

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

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

Quoniam iniquitates meæ supergressæ sunt caput meum: * et sicut onus grave gravatæ sunt super me.

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

Putruerunt, et corruptæ sunt cicatrices meæ, * a facie insipientiæ meæ.

My sores are putrefied and corrupted, because of my foolishness.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

O Lord, all my desire is before thee: and my groaning is not hidden from thee.

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

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

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

My friends and my neighbors have drawn near, and stood against me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For in thee, O Lord, have I hoped: thou wilt hear me, O Lord my God.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Forsake me not, O Lord my God: do not thou depart from me.

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

Attend unto my help, O Lord the God of my salvation.

Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto. Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper, et in sæcula sæculorum. Amen. Alleluia.

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. Alleluia.

IV. Psalm 50

The grief and prayer of David, when the prophet Nathan was sent by God to reproach him for the twofold crime he had committed by his sin with Bethsabee, are the subject of this psalm.

Miserere mei Deus: * secundum magnam misericordiam tuam. Have mercy on me, O God, according to thy great mercy.

Et secundum multitudinem miserationum tuarum: * dele iniquitatem meam.

And according to the multitude of thy tender mercies, blot out my iniquity.

Amplius lava me ab iniquitate mea: * et a peccato meo munda me.

Wash me yet more from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.

Quoniam iniquitatem meam ego congnosco: ;* et peccatum meum contra me est semper.

For I know my iniquity, and my sin is always before me.

Tibi soli peccavi, et malum coram te feci: * ut justificeris in sermonibus tuis et vincas cum judicaris.

To thee only have I sinned, and have done evil before thee: that thou mayst be justified in thy words, and mayst overcome when thou art judged.

Ecce enim in iniquitatibus conceptus sum: * et in peccatis concepit me mater mea.

For behold! I was conceived in iniquities, and in sins did my mother conceive me.

Ecce enim veritatem dilexisti: * incerta et occulta sapientiæ tuæ manifestasti mihi.

For behold! thou hast loved truth: the uncertain and hidden things of thy wisdom thou hast made manifest to me.

Asperges me hyssopo, et mundabor: * lavabis me, et super nivem dealbabor.

Thou shalt sprinkle me with hyssop, and I shall be cleansed: thou shalt wash me, and I shall be made whiter than snow.

Auditui meo dabis gaudium et lætitiam: * et exsultabunt ossa humiliata.

To my hearing thou shalt give joy and gladness: and the bones that have been humbled, shall rejoice.

Averte faciem tuam a peccatis meis: * et omnes iniquitates meas dele.

Turn away thy face from my sins: and blot out all my iniquities.

Cor mundum crea in me Deus: * et spiritum rectum innova in visceribus meis.

Create a clean heart in me, O God: and renew a right spirit within my bowels.

Ne projicias me a facie tua: * et Spiritum sanctum tuum ne suferas a me.

Cast me not away from thy face: and take not thy holy Spirit from me.

Redde mihi lætitiam salutaris tui: * et spiritu principali confirma me.

Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation: and strengthen me with a perfect spirit.

Docebo iniquos vias tuas: * et impii ad te convertentur.

I will teach the unjust thy ways: and the wicked shall be converted to thee.

Libera me de sanguinibus, Deus, Deus salutis me&aelig: * et exsultabit lingua mea justitiam tuam.

Deliver me from blood, O God, thou God of my salvation! and my tongue shall extol thy justice.

Domine, labia mea aperies: * et os meum annuntiabit laudem tuam.

O Lord, thou wilt open my lips: and my mouth shall declare thy praise.

Quoniam si voluisses sacrificium, dedissem utique: * holocaustis non delectaberis.

For if thou hadst desired sacrifice, I would indeed have given it: with burnt offerings thou wilt not be delighted.

Sacrificium Deo spiritus contribulatus: * cor contritum et humiliatum, Deus, non despicies.

A sacrifice to God is an afflicted spirit: a contrite and humbled heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.

Benigne fac, Domine, in bona voluntate tua Sion: * ut ædificentur muri Jerusalem.

Deal favorably, O Lord, in thy good-will with Sion: that the walls of Jerusalem may be built up.

Tunc acceptabis sacrificium justitiæ, oblationes, et holocausta: * tunc imponent super altare tuum vitulos.

Then shalt thou accept the sacrifice of justice, oblations, and whole-burnt offerings: then shall they lay calves upon thine altar.

Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto. Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper, et in sæcula sæculorum. Amen. Alleluia.

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. Alleluia.

V. Psalm 101

David laments over the captivity of God's people in Babylon, and prays for the restoration of Sion. His words are appropriate for the soul who grieves over her sins, and implores to be regenerated by grace.

Domine, exaudi orationem meam: * et clamor meus ad te veniat. Hear, O Lord, my prayer: and let my cry come unto thee.

Non avertas faciem tuam a me: * in quacumque die tribulor, inclina ad me aurem tuam.

Turn not away thy face from me: in the day when I am in trouble, incline thine ear to me.

In quacumque die invocavero te: * velociter exaudi me.

In what day soever I shall call upon thee, hear me speedily.

Quia defecerunt sicut fumus dies mei: * et ossa mea sicut cremium aruerunt.

For my days are vanished like smoke: and my bones are grown dry like fuel for the fire.

Percussus sum et fœnum, et aruit cor meum: * quia oblitus sum comedere panem meum.

I am smitten as grass, and my heart is withered: because I forgot to eat my bread.

A voce gemitus mei: * adhæsit os meum carni meæ.

Through the voice of my groaning, my bone hath cleaved to my flesh.

Similis factus sum pellicano solitudinis: * factus sum sicut nycticorax in domicilio.

I am become like to a pelican of the wilderness: I am like a night-raven in the house.

Vigilavi: * et factus sum sicut passer solitarius in tecto.

I have watched, and am become as a sparrow all alone on the housetop.

Tota die exprobrabant mihi inimici mei: * et qui laudabant me adversum me jurabant.

All the day long mine enemies reproached me: and they that praised me, did swear against me.

Quia cinerem tamquam panem manducabam: * et potum meum cum fletu miscebam.

For I did eat ashes like bread: and mingled my drink with weeping.

A facie iræ et indignationis tuæ: * quia elevans allisisti me.

Because of thy anger and indignation: for having lifted me up, thou hast thrown me down.

Dies mei sicut umbra declinaverunt: * et ego sicut fœnum arui.

My days have declined like a shadow: and I am withered like grass.

Tu autem, Domine, in æternum permanes: * et memoriale tuum in generationem et generationem.

But thou, O Lord, endurest for ever: and thy memorial to all generations.

Tu exsurgens misereberis Sion: * quia tempus miserendi ejus, quia venit tempus.

Thou shalt arise and have mercy on Sion: for it is time to have mercy on it, for the time is come.

Quoniam pacuerunt servis tuis lapides ejus: * et terræ ejus miserebuntur.

For the stones thereof have pleased thy servants: and they shall have pity on the earth thereof.

Et timebunt gentes nomen tuum, Domine: * et omnes reges terræ gloriam tuam.

And the Gentiles shall fear thy name, O Lord: and all the kings of the earth thy glory.

Quia ædificavit Dominus Sion: * et videbitur in gloria sua.

For the Lord hath built up Sion: and he shall be seen in his glory.

Respexit in orationam humilium: * et non sprevit præcem eorum.

He hath regard to the prayer of the humble: and he hath not despised their petition.

Scribantur hæc in generatione altera: * et populus qui creabitur laudabit Dominum.

Let these things be written unto another generation: and the people that shall be created, shall praise the Lord.

Quia prospexit de excelso sancto suo: * Dominus de cœlo in terram aspexit.

Because he hath looked forth from his high sanctuary: from heaven, the Lord hath looked upon the earth.

Ut audiret gemitus competitorum: * ut solveret filios interemptorum.

That he might hear the groans of them that are in fetters: that he might release the children of the slain.

Ut annuntient in Sion nomen Domini: * et laudem ejus in Jerusalem.

That they may declare the name of the Lord in Sion, and his praise in Jerusalem.

In conveniendo populos in unum: * et reges, ut serviant Domino.

When the people assembled together, and kings to serve the Lord.

Respondit ei in via virtutis suæ: * paucitatem dierum meorum nuntia mihi.

He (the royal prophet), longing to see these glorious things, answered him though still in the way of his strength: Declare unto me the fewness of my days;

Ne revoces me in dimidio dierum meorum: * in generationem et generationem anni tui.

Call me not away in the midst of my days: thy years are unto generation and generation.

Initio tu, Domine, terram fundasti: * et opera manuum tuarum sunt cœli.

In the beginning, O Lord, thou foundedst the earth: and the heavens are the works of thy hands.

Ipsi peribunt, tu autem permanes: * et omnes sicut vestimentum veterascent.

They shall perish, but thou remainest: and all of them shall grow old, like a garment.

Et sicut opertorium mutabis eos, et mutabuntur: * tu autem idem ipse es, et annui tui non deficient.

And as a vesture thou shalt change them, and they shall be changed: but thou art always the self-same, and thy years shall not fail.

Filii servorum tuorum habitabunt: * et semen eorum in sæculum dirigetur.

The children of thy servants shall continue: and their seed shall be directed for ever.

Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto. Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper, et in sæcula sæculorum. Amen. Alleluia.

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. Alleluia.

VI. Psalm 129

The sinner seeing the depths of the abyss into which sin has led him, can hope for help from none but his God, whose mercy is infinite.

De profundis clamavi ad te, Domine: * Domine, exaudi vocem meam. Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O Lord: Lord, hear my voice.

Fiant aures tuæ intendentes: * in vocem deprationis meæ.

Let thine ears be attentive to the voice of my supplication.

Si iniquitates observaveris Domine: * Domine, quis sustinebit?

If thou, O Lord, wilt mark iniquities: Lord, who shall stand it?

Quia apud te propitiatio est: * et propter legem tuam sustinui te, Domine.

For with thee there is merciful forgiveness: and by reason of thy law, I have waited for thee, O Lord.

Sustinuit enima mea in verbo ejus: * speravit anima mea in Domino.

My soul hath relied on his word: my soul hath hoped in the Lord.

A custodia matutina usque ad noctem: * speret Israël in Domino.

From the morning watch even until night, let Israel hope in the Lord.

Quia apud Dominum misericordia: * et copiosa apud eum redemptio.

Because with the Lord there is mercy: and with him, plentiful redemption.

Et ipse redimet Israël: * ex omnibus iniquitatibus ejus.

And he shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities.

Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto. Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper, et in sæcula sæculorum. Amen. Alleluia.

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. Alleluia.

VII. Psalm 142

David, who had taken refuge in a cave, sees himself surrounded by the army of Saul; he beseeches God not to deal with him according to the rigor of His just judgments, but to show him a way whereby to escape the danger that threatens him. The sinner implores God to deliver him from the sins and temptations which beset him.

Domine, exaudi orationem meam, auribus percipe obsecrationem meam in veritate tua: * exaudi me in tua justitia. Hear, O Lord, my prayer; give ear to my supplication in thy truth: hear me in thy justice.

Et non intres in judicium cum servo tuo: * quia non justificabitur in conspectu tuo omnis vivens.

And enter not into judgment with thy servant: for in thy sight no man living shall be justified.

Quia persecutus est inimicus animam meam: * humiliavit in terra vitam meam.

For the enemy hath persecuted my soul: he hath brought down my life to the earth.

Collocavit me in obscuris sicut mortuos sæculi: et anxiatus est super me spiritus meus: * in me turbatum est cor meum.

He hath made me to dwell in darkness, as those that have been dead of old; and my spirit is in anguish within me: my heart within me is troubled.

Memor fui dierum antiquorum, meditatus sum in omnibus operibus tuis: * in factis manuum tuarum meditabar.

I remembered the days of old, I meditated on all thy works: I meditated upon the works of thy hands.

Expandi manus meas ad te: * anima mea sicut terra sine aqua tibi.

I stretched forth my hands to thee: my soul is as earth without water, unto thee.

Velociter exaudi me, Domine: * defecit spiritus meus.

Hear me speedily, O Lord: my spirit hath fainted away.

Non avertas faciem tuam a me: * et similis ero descendentibus in lacum.

Turn not away thy face from me: lest I be like unto them that go down into the pit.

Auditam fac mihi mane misericordiam tuam: * quia in te speravi.

Cause me to hear thy mercy in the morning: for in thee have I hoped.

Notam fac mihi viam in qua ambulem: * quia ad te levavi animam meam.

Make the way known to me, wherein I should walk: for I have lifted up my soul to thee.

Eripe me de inimicis meis, Domine, ad te confugi: * doce me facere voluntatem tuam, quia Deus meus es tu.

Deliver me from mine enemies, O Lord; to thee have I fled: teach me to do thy will, for thou art my God.

Spiritus tuus bonus deducet me in terram rectam: * propter nomen tuum, Domine, vivificabis me in æquitate tua.

Thy good Spirit shall lead me into the right land: for thy name's sake, O Lord, thou wilt quicken me in thy justice.

Educes de tribulatione animam meam: * et in misericordia tua disperdes inimicos meos.

Thou wilt bring my soul out of trouble: and in thy mercy, thou wilt destroy mine enemies.

Et perdes omnes qui tribulant animam meam: * quoniam ego servus tuus sum.

And thou wilt cut off all them that afflict my soul: for I am thy servant.

Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto. Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper, et in sæcula sæculorum. Amen. Alleluia.

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. Alleluia.