The Great Litany prayer form dates back to (at least) the fourth century and is one of the great expressions of petition that is common in both Eastern and Western Christian traditions. Every service in the Eastern church begins with a form of these petitions in which the congregation responds: “Kyrie Eleison” (Lord have mercy). Thomas Cranmer and Martin Luther both highly regarded this historic prayer and counted it as an accurate reflection of the Christian’s total dependance on God for life and grace. Luther considered it to be almost as important to Christian worship as the Lord’s Prayer. These are ‘sturdy’ words that have held the weight of Christian lament in every generation. This cry to God for mercy is as appropriate today as it will be in the future. The version below is rooted in the tradition of Thomas Cranmer and is taken from the 1978 edition of The Book of Common Prayer. Go here and here for more background on the history and function of The Great Litany.
Form for Prayers of the People
(based on Psalm 25, Colossians 1, and Luke 10:25-37)
Contemplative Prayer Form
8th Sunday of Trinitytide – Year C
Note: This is for individual or small group use. It is intended to be a form of contemplative “Lectio Divina” based on the scripture readings for the week and the themes of the liturgical season. Repetition, silence, and intercession are utilized to allow space for focus over a short or long period of time. It may be helpful to use your fingers to count the number of scripture phrases you utter during the times of repetition. The Scripture prayer section is structured for easy use with Anglican Prayer Beads for those who might find a tactile expression to be helpful.
(☩ = Cross ❂ = Invitatory bead ⃟= Cruciform bead ● = Weeks bead).
☩ Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness. Come, let us adore him.
❂ Grant that we may know and understand what things we ought to do, and may also have grace and power faithfully to accomplish them. Amen.
⃟ I trust in you; do not let me be put to shame, nor let my enemies triumph over me. No one who hopes in you will ever be put to shame,but shame will come on those who are treacherous without cause. -Ps. 25:2-3
Repeat Seven Times:
In you, Lord my God, I put my trust. -Psalm 25:1
⃟Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. Remember, Lord, your great mercy and love, for they are from of old. -Psalm 25:5-6
Repeat Seven Times:
Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths. -Psalm 25:4
⃟Do not remember the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways; according to your love remember me, for you, Lord, are good. -Psalm 25:7
Repeat Seven Times:
Good and upright is the Lord; therefore he instructs sinners in his ways. -Psalm 25:8
⃟ He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way. All the ways of the Lord are loving and faithful toward those who keep the demands of his covenant. -Psalm 25:9-10
Repeat Seven Times:
For he has rescued us…we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. -Colossians 1:13a; 14b
⃟“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” -Luke 10:27
❂ The Lord’s Prayer
☩ The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all evermore. Amen.
*Pause in between for silence or specific intersessions
Father, you have gathered us into the communion of your Church and sent us out to love our neighbors. Give us life and unity through your Spirit. Guide your Church in this place and around the world…
Jesus, your faithfulness enables us to remain faithful to you: Do not remember the sins of our youth. Keep us steady in faith and set our hearts to desire your Kingdom and learn your ways…
Holy Spirit, heal our wounded souls and misshaped desires. Show us your ways and teach us your paths. Free us from anxiety and lead us to trust you…
Lord, you rule over all earthly powers, yet are familiar with our poverty. Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed. Rescue the needy and support those who are going through trials. Help us to be willing to suffer for those in need.
For families and friends, for all who have asked for our prayers and who pray for us…
For our country and our region, for political and spiritual leaders, and that Christians may be witnesses to your life and unity…
Lord, show us how to take joy in the gifts your have given us. Show us how to use these gifts to create things which lead to life and participate in your love.
Fill us with knowledge of your will and the understanding that the Spirit gives, so that we may live a life worthy of the Lord: bearing fruit in every good work and giving thanks to the Father, who has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
“The word mercy in English is the translation of the Greek word eleos. This word has the same ultimate root as the old Greek word for oil, or more precisely, olive oil; a substance which was used extensively as a soothing agent for bruises and minor wounds. The oil was poured onto the wound and gently massaged in, thus soothing, comforting and making whole the injured part. The Hebrew word which is also translated as eleos and mercy is hesed, and means steadfast love. The Greek words for ‘Lord, have mercy,’ are ‘Kyrie, eleison’ that is to say, ‘Lord, soothe me, comfort me, take away my pain, show me your steadfast love.’ Thus mercy… refer[s]… to the infinite loving-kindness of God, and his compassion for his suffering children! It is in this sense that we pray ‘Lord, have mercy…'”
-from the book Orthodox Worship by Benjamin D. Williams and Harold B. Anstall
Painting “Kyrie Eleison” by Soichi Watanabe