Friday, January 22, 2010

Liturgical Variations: Understanding Liturgical Worship, Part IV (a)

Micah over at Variations on a Liturgical Theme has posted his latest installment of Understanding the Liturgical Worship Service.

Topics include:
  • The Kyrie
  • Gloria in Excelsis/This Is the Feast

Regarding the Kyrie, Micah says...
Because we have rebelled against His perfect Law, we cower in terror and plead with Him not to destroy us for our insurrection (sin), but to deal with us graciously. We beg our benevelant King to have mercy on us, a sinner. (Luke 18:13)

The word kyrie is the first word the Greek liturgy for this section. In it, the phrase Kyrie eleison means, "Lord, have mercy." Sometimes the Greek term is retained in its entirety.

Here is the Kyrie from Bach's Mass in B minor. Bach used the Latin Mass, which retained the Kyrie in the Greek form.

The Kyrie has been known to expand and contract over time.  The historic English translation is "Lord, have mercy upon us."  The words "upon us" have been added.  The phrase can stand on its own or it can be a response to a series of petitions, where a deacon or pastor chants the petition and the congregation responds with "Lord, have mercy."

Here is an expanded Kyrie from the Eastern Rite in Greek. I would like to thank the GreekOrthodox over at youtube for posting the words in Greek and English.

Κύριε ἐλέησον, Κύριε ἐλέησον, Κύριε ἐλέησον.
Ἔτι δεόμεθα ὑπὲρ τοῦ εἰσακοῦσαι Κύριον
τὸν Θεὸν φωνῆς τῆς δεήσεως ἡμῶν τῶν ἁμαρτωλῶν,
καὶ ἐλεῆσαι ἡμᾶς.
Κύριε ἐλέησον, Κύριε ἐλέησον, Κύριε ἐλέησον.

Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy.
Again we pray that the Lord God
will hear the voices of the petitions of us sinners
and have mercy on us.
Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy.

And from the Latin Rite, here it is in Gregorian Chant.

Kyrie eleison, Kyrie eleison, Kyrie eleison.
Christe eleison, Christe eleison, Christe eleison.
Kyrie eleison, Kyrie eleison, Kyrie eleison.

Lord, have mercy; Lord, have mercy; Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy; Christ, have mercy; Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy; Lord, have mercy; Lord, have mercy.

For more on the Kyrie and for a setting from Luther's German Mass, check out this post here at All for Hymn.

This is the first post of four in a series about the Kyrie and Gloria in the Divine Service based on a post by Micah at Liturgical Variations.  Next in this series, settings of the Gloria in Latin.

Check out all of Micah's posts over at Liturgical Variations.  Micah is a student at Concordia University Texas.

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