Kyrie Eleison (Leigh Nash – City on a Hill)
mp3 | chords
Kyrie Eleison (Taize Community)
mp3 | sheetmusic
Kyrie Eleison (by Mister Mister)
sorry, had too.
Last week at church we sang a small piece of music after our corporate confession of sin. It was too short to be a hymn and to ‘liturgical’ to be a contemporary praise song, even though we did repeat the short chorus several times. After we sang it on Sunday I was reflecting that this little piece of music feels like neither a typical song nor a prayer but something in between…something that most churches never experience. It was truly ‘sung’ prayer if that is at all meaningfully in an evangelical context.
What I’m describing somewhat obtusely is singing a traditional “kyrie” – an ancient church prayer based in the OT prayers of Psalm 51:1, 123:3, et al and present throughout the NT as a well known exhortation (Matthew 9:27, 20:30, 15:22; Mark 10:47; Luke 16:24, 17:13) A cry to the Lord – “Lord, have mercy.” No one is entirely sure when the practice of singing it came into being in the NT church. St. John Chrysostom, an early church father records its use in the 4th century and its popularity spreads from there into all corners of the church.
Kyrie Eleison is Greek for “Lord, have mercy” and like “Amen” and “Hallelujah” have survived in the church’s use in their original expression.
The Kyrie Eleison along with the Gloria Patri and other pieces are what are traditionally called “service music.” They are usually short pieces of music that have been written to serve a specific context in a worship service and they express important and universal forms of prayer, i.e. confession and praise. Sometimes they correspond to specific passages of scripture (Magnificat – Mary’s Song in Luke 1:46-55 ; Nunc Dimittis – Simeon’s Song in Luke 2:29-32; The Venite – O Come Let us sing – Psalm 95) but not always.
Do you have any pieces of music in your service that might not fit the definition of a hymn or praise song? What are they and why do you sing them?