Wednesday, March 16, 2011


Tonight we begin the new weekly theme of Kyrie.  This is the first portion of the Ordinary of the liturgy.  It is called the Ordinary because it is comprised of the texts that are repeated every week.  This distinguishes it from the Proper, which changes every week.  Lutheran churches have moved away from most of the sung portion of the Proper, but it includes such things as the Introit, Gradual, and Collect.  We do retain it in some places, such as the communion blessing before the Sanctus, which changes depending on the season or festival.

But back to the Kyrie.  The text could not be simpler: Kyrie eleison, Christe eleison, Kyrie eleison.  It translates simply as Lord, have mercy; Christ, have mercy; Lord, have mercy.  Thus, it follows naturally from the Confession.  Mercy is entertwined with forgiveness.

The phrase can be found in scattered passages throughout the Old and New Testaments.  For example, Psalm 4: "Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness: Thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress; have mercy upon me, and hear my prayer" and in the sotry of Jesus healing two blind men (Matthew 9), they first get his attention by calling out "Have mercy on us, Son of David."

The ELCA liturgy follows the Great Litany of Peace, in which the first three petitions concern peace.  "In peace, let us pray to the Lord."  Followed by "For the peace from above and for our salvation, let us pray to the Lord" and "For the peace of the whole world, for the well being of the church of God and for the unity of all, let us pray to the Lord."  The text is a dramatic prayer for peace, mercy, and forgiveness.  We will sing it tonight as part of our Lenten devotion, and may it set our minds at peace as we pray for that peace to extend out to encompass the world.

1 comment:

  1. I think what I enjoy about the Ordinary is the sense of peace one gets from the words and music that are so familiar. It seems to prepare the mind well for the lessons that follow.