I most humbly acknowledge and confess that I have understood sin,
by understanding your laws and judgments;
but have gone against your known and revealed will.
You have set up many candlesticks, and kindled many lamps for me;
but I have either blown them out,
or carried them to guide me in forbidden ways.
You have given me a desire of knowledge,
and some means of it, and some possession of it;
and I have armed myself with your weapons against you.
Yet, O God, have mercy upon me,
for your own sake have mercy upon me.
Let not my sin and me be able to exceed you,
nor to defraud you, nor to frustrate your purposes.
But let me, in spite of me, be of so much use to your glory,
that by your mercy to my sin,
other sinners may see how much sin you can pardon.
John Donne, 1572 – 1631, English poet, satirist, lawyer and priest
HarperCollins Book of Prayers, slightly modernized
Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin!
For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you may be justified in your words
and blameless in your judgment.