Psalm 51 is one of the most popular penitential prayers in the Book of Psalms. It is attributed to David and his repentance to the Prophet Nathan when he confronted him about the king’s sin with Bathsheba. It is a popular Psalm during Lent appearing in the liturgies for both Ash Wednesday and the First Sunday of Lent.
You can read this story on this website or you can download a PDF printout along with discussion questions here:Download Printable Version of the Story >
The Sorrowful Song to the Sun
There was a big and mighty bird that sang joyfully to greet the sun at dawn each day. It was a beautiful song and easy for it to sing. For the heart of the bird was filled with gladness in seeing the beauty of the world each day.
Most of all, the bird hoped that the song would please the sun. For the sun brought the beauty of the world to life each morning.
As the sun rose each day, the bird sang its welcoming song until one day the bird heard another sound. It was another bird singing in a nearby tree. The big bird immediately stopped the song and flew to the other tree. It found a little red bird singing from a branch low to the ground.
“What are you doing?” said the big bird to the red bird.
“Singing,” said the red bird fearfully for the big bird was very large and looked very angry. “Is–is there something wrong?”
“Stop at once,” said the big bird. “Go sing your song somewhere else. I am the one that will sing a song to match the beauty of the morning. I am the only one to sing here.”
So the little red bird flew off leaving the big bird all alone. The great bird flew back to its big tree to continue its song, but the sun was gone. Clouds covered the sky and the land was filled with darkness. The bird didn’t feel like singing. It realized how cruel it was to the other bird.
It tried to make up for its mistake. It cleaned up its tree. It flew around to try to make the flowers bloom. It even flew back to the red bird’s tree to see if it returned. Nothing made the feeling of guilt inside go away.
Finally, it sang a sorrowful song towards the sky:
“Have mercy on me! Wash away my guilt and cleanse me from my sin. Against you, you alone have I sinned. I have done what is evil in your eyes. A clean heart create in me! Renew in me a steadfast spirit.”
When the bird finished its song, the rain came. The rain filled the land and the big bird was afraid the beautiful world would be washed away. Then the rain stopped and the clouds subsided. The sun came and dried the bird and the tree and all the land surrounding it.
The bird was quiet at first. It listened and realized it was not the only animal or bird around welcoming back the sun. Other birds were chirping. Squirrels were scurrying up and down trees. Rabbits hopped along the ground.
All of the sudden the bird erupted in joyful song that it shared with the many other creatures in the world. It gave praise to the sun for its return and the gift of the cleansing rain.
“Lord, you will open my lips; and my mouth will proclaim you’re praise. For you do not desire sacrifice or I would give it…”Psalm 51:17-18
Download and Print the Story & Discussion Questions
You can read this story on this website or you can download a PDF printout along with discussion questions here: