Why Bother? Part 4: The Kyrie Eleison

The Who, What, Where and Why of Worship

by Pastor Danielle



This is a series of explanations about the different elements of our worship service.  Some of us gathered have been worshiping our entire lives and some of us are rather new at it, but when God is present, as God is in worship, there is always room for all of us to grow.  I invite you to open yourself up to the experience of worship.  Worship is not something we attend but rather it is a relationship that happens to us.

May worship happen to you today and every day of your life.


The Kyrie Eleison


In our worship, we sing Kyrie eleison meaning Lord, have mercy.  Traditionally this is sung, "Lord, have mercy; Christ, have mercy; Lord, have mercy." Versions can differ but the essence of the prayer is intact.  The kyrie eleison, commonly known as the kyrie, has been sung in different ways for thousands of years.  The words bridge us to the larger body of Christ, throughout time and place.  There is something about using the same words as the saints and sinners who have gone before that connects their pleading with ours.  It is a prayer that binds us not only with God but also to everyone who has thrown themselves on the mercy of God's grace.  


King David wrote in Psalm 51, “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions.”  Even David, the golden child of Israel, had to depend not on his own merit but on the unfailing grace and forgiveness of God.  “In the presence of God we implore, plead for, cry out for deliverance, salvation, wholeness and mercy. Like David (Psalm 51), Bartimaeus (Mark 10:47-48) or the dauntless Canaanite woman (Matt. 15: 22) kyrie eleison allows us an unrestrained ritual cry to God for a situation with which we don't know how to cope. (Dan Benedict)”  


It is the prayer we pray when we do not know how to pray.


Kyrie eleison can get lost in the shuffle of our worship service.  We are so use to it that we sometimes forget to take a step back and really think about what we are saying.  But when we do take that moment to think about the words, to begin that kyrie eleison in the deepest parts of ourselves and let it spring forward, consuming our guilt as it spews out of our lips...in those moments we can truly understand its power.


Have mercy on us Lord.  Have mercy on us Christ.  Have mercy on us Lord.