Kyrie eleison is one of the most important prayers in the Catholic Mass. Very similar to the familiar prayer in orthodox church and some other Christian churches. Kyrie eleison falls within a range of songs Ordinarium Missae, this is the kind of song which text does not change. The rest are Credo, Sanctus, Agnus Dei and Ite Missa est.
The word Kyrie or Kyrios is Jehovah – God – the Lord. This name is often used in the Bible: eg. At stormy seas disciples wake Jesus with shouts of: “Lord save us!“(Mt 8,25); Canaanite woman: “Lord, have mercy on me” (Mt 15.22). This is a call for compassion, and also simply Credo – Faith.
Name Kyrie (Greek Κύριε) is vocative of the word Κύριος [Kyrios] = Lord (meaning God). Prayer Kyrie was also often set to music.
“Mercy” is an old word. During its long history, it has acquired a very rich meaning. In Greek, the language of the New Testament, the word for mercy is eleos. This word is familiar to us from the prayer Kyrie eleison, which is a call for the Lord’s mercy.
In the first Christian communities these prayers were prayed alternately with the deacons, which listed the various purposes for which they prayed, and the people answered with “Lord, have mercy!” As such litanies easily extended the Holy Mass it was later without the purposes and people sang only “Lord have mercy.” The number of repetitions was unlimited. For example, on Good Friday, Coptic Christians repeated “Lord have mercy.” about a hundred times.
In the sixth century and even before becomes, “Lord, have mercy” stand-alone song. In a letter from Pope Gregory the Great John in Syracuse he provides for the implementation of the tributes. He says: a clericis dicitur, a Pópulo respondetur “, therefore, that first the clergy sings, then the faithful respond, while in the East, the Greeks clergy sang along with the congregation.
In the 9th century the number of exclaims was limited to nine. To avoid needing nine times in a row the same terms, they changed the three middle exclamations. They called Savior by his other name as Christ.
In the Catholic Mass, the prayer Kyrie appears in the introductory part of the Holy Mass just before the variable part of the Mass, called Glory. After the Second Vatican Council, all Mass prayers can be prayed in their native language. For many centuries were bow prayers by the rule in Latin, but Kyrie always in Greek.
Kyrie eleison Christe eleison
The Prayer consists of three parts – the first part is dedicated to God the Father, to the God the Son the second part and the third part to the Holy Spirit.
Traditionally, each of the three parts is repeated three times, which further emphasizes the Holy Trinity. Today it is more common twice – first prays the priest, then the people repeat the text again. The text is simple:
- Greek original: Κύριε ἐλέησον. Χριστὲ ἐλέησον. Κύριε ἐλέησον.
- Latin transcript: Kyrie eleison. Christe eleison. Kyrie eleison.
Although today the number of, “Lord, have mercy” is limited to three, we can, for various reasons or circumstances repeat it several times. Only then will all faithful will as one feel, not only in thanks but also in the petition.
The general scheme of the Roman missal, Kyrie eleison – “Lord, have mercy”
After the Penitential Act it is always, “Lord, have mercy” if these words were not already in common repentance. Since this is a song by which the faithful call to the Lord and ask his mercy, it is usually implemented by all, the people and the choir or singer.
Exclamation is usually repeated nine times, but can be repeated even more, if required by the nature of each language, musical reasons or circumstances. If “Lord, have mercy,” is sung as part of the common repentance before each exclaiming we add additional text (tropus)