Parce Domine (Spare, O Lord)
A season of reflection, repatriation for our sins, reconciliation, penance, self-denial.
Scripture abounds with plenty of stories and anecdotes of the people’s wrestle with God in their tussle with sin. In the Book of Joel, chapter 2, we are told the story of how locusts swarm the land and cloud the sky dark from their shadow. In almost a plague-like calamity, the people turn to God and beg for mercy. Under such supernatural catastrophe, the call to the supernatural Divine is their apt response.
The antiphon Parce Domine is a reference to Joel 2:17 – Spare Lord, spare your people. Be not angry with us forever.
Parce Domine, parce populo tuo: ne in aeternum irascaris nobis.
The passage from Joel 2 later describes how God relents and delivers his mercy.
Excerpt from Joel 2:12,13
“Even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.”
13 Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.
The choir sings this chant at every Mass throughout the period of Lent as a reminder of our reliance on God’s mercy.
We may not face the plague-like conditions of the people in Joel’s time. But perhaps there are circumstances that the faithful may encounter that may seem like the yoke upon them is heavy & unrelenting.
Let us beg for the mercy of God, so that we may be granted reprieve from the things that plague our lives (broken relationships, depression, an illness of a loved one, persecution in our social environments etc.).
Translations of the Parce Domine and a short reflection.
Apparition of Our Lady in Pontmain mentions the Parce Domine.