Kyrie Eleison (Lord, Have Mercy)

Full Text

Kyrie eleison. Kyrie eleison.
Kyrie eleison. Kyrie eleison.

Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

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Scripture References

Confessions and Statements of Faith References

Further Reflections on Confessions and Statements of Faith References

God’s children are not called to come before God’s throne with a list of accomplishments, or merits or goodness; they are called, says Our World Belongs to God, paragraph 26, to come with the humility that “…offers nothing but our need for mercy.” Such a cry for mercy comes from our “dying-away of the old self” (Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 33, Question and Answer 88) which expresses that we are “genuinely sorry for our sin and more and more…hate and run away from it” (Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 33, Question and Answer 89).

The gifts of renewal and pardon come only “through true faith” (Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 7, Question and Answer 20) and are “gifts of sheer grace, granted solely by Christ’s merits” (Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 7, Question and Answer 21). The very act of faith is to plead for his mercy.


Kyrie Eleison (Lord, Have Mercy)

Additional Prayers

A Prayer for Mercy
Gracious God, it’s always the same sins. We have sinned the same way over and over, losing our temper, forgetting your grace, silencing our conscience. Like every addict, we have a habit. But you, gracious God, are our higher power, and we need your power this very day, this very hour. Lord, have mercy; Christ, have mercy; Lord, have mercy upon us. Amen.
— Cornelius Plantinga, Jr.

Kyrie Eleison (Lord, Have Mercy)

Tune Information

c minor



Kyrie Eleison (Lord, Have Mercy)

Hymn Story/Background

The ancient Greek liturgical text Kyrie Eleison was retained by the Roman Catholic Church for more than a thousand years, even though the rest of their liturgy was in Latin. Singing this text in Greek helps honor the communion of saints—we worship not just here and now, but with the whole church throughout the world and throughout history.  
Psalm 51, one of the traditional seven penitential psalms, begins with these words, therefore this refrain
would be very appropriate to sing responsorially with the reading of Psalm 51, at the beginning, and after different sections of the psalm. Keep the tempo a slow, steady walking pace, and don’t rush the triplet and “blue” note (G-flat) in the last bar. Percussion is critical. Use a djembe (an African hand drum) with a strong, deep sound on the first beat (as if beating one’s breast in sorrow), and quarter or eighth notes on the other beats. Consider performing it either in unison, or with women singing the melody and men humming the simple accompaniment prepared by Emily R. Brink as published earlier in Sing! A New Creation (2001). The drumming and humming could continue by a choir underneath the reading. Another accompaniment by Dinah Reindorf is also available in that collection. 
— Emily Brink

Known as the Ghana Kyrie, this prayer was composed in 1987 by Dinah Reindorf of Ghana, who formerly conducted the Nigerian National Orchestra. She composed it after taking part in a “Passion Walk”—an experience of walking, blindfolded, in Christ’s footsteps to the cross. While visiting her daughter in the United States, she commented on this song: “When I was in Switzerland at a consultation of the World Council of Churches, one of the leaders took us on a blindfolded Passion Walk. At the very end of the walk, with the words ‘He is Risen!’ the blindfolds were taken off and a shaft of light came into my eyes. My tears came, I went up to my room, and this melody came to me as I reflected on what Jesus had done for us.”

Composer Information

In 1972, Dinah Reindorf, an eminent music teacher and director had just returned to Ghana after pursuing music education in the United Kingdom and the United States. She had a dream to set up a music institute to help prepare students intending to pursue music in the universities. This dream came true after a grant from the Ghana Denmark Cultural Fund. This intitute caters to the needs of children and the elderly, offering lessons in piano, voice, theory, history of music, form, analysis, harmony and aural training.
— Emily Brink

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