During the imposition of ashes the choir (or congregation) chant a number of antiphons and a responsory suited to the occasion.
In would be in this order:
And rend your heart, and not your garments,
and turn unto the LORD your God:
for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger,
and of great kindness, and repenteth Him of the evil.
Let the priests, the ministers of the LORD,
weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say,
Spare Thy people, O LORD,
and give not Thine heritage to reproach,
that the heathen should rule over them:
wherefore should they say among the people,
Where is their God?
Hear my prayer, and be merciful unto Thine inheritance:
turn our sorrow into joy, that we may live, O Lord,
and praise Thy name:
and destroy not the mouths of them that praise Thee, O Lord.
Let us amend for the better in those things
in which we have sinned through ignorance;
lest suddenly overtaken by the day of death,
we seek space for repentance and are not able to find it.
Antiphon based upon Psalm 41:4:
Attend, O Lord, be merciful: for we have sinned against Thee.
Verse from Psalm 78:9
Help us, O God of our salvation,
for the glory of Thy name:
and deliver us, and purge away our sins,
for Thy name's sake.
Repeat antiphon based on 41:4
Repeat antiphon based upon 41:4
After everyone who desires to receive ashes has done so, the Celebrant then chants again the Salutation, and after the response, he prays the Collect that concludes the Imposition of Ashes. The service then continues with the Introit. In the Church at Rome, the people and clergy upon receiving their ashes would then process as a congregation to the church of St. Sabina, where the service would continue. Either before, or during the Introit the ministers put off their copes, and exchange them for the appropriate vestment, i.e., chasuble, dalmatic, or tunicle.
The solemn rite of the Imposition of Ashes puts us in the right state of mind as we enter into Lent, a season that is marked by increased catechesis upon the Ten Commandments, which make us realize how little we have kept them, and that we are indeed poor, miserable sinners in need of a Savior. The ashes upon our heads mark us as sinners who need redemption. This is why the ashes are placed upon the forehead, in the shape of a cross. For it is by the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, that we are redeemed and delivered from sin, death and the devil.
Deacon Dulas is ordained into the pastorate and member of the Evangelical Lutheran Diocese of North America (eldona.org). In his own words, "My call is to serve as deacon and missionary-at-large to MN and WI at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, Tony, WI. We are starting a mission here in Mayer, MN, and the surrounding area called St. Matthew Ev. Luth. Mission."
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