Greek for “Lord, have mercy.” According to Saint JEROME (c. 342-420) and Saint GREGORY OF NAZIANZUS (329-389), it is one of the traditions entrusted by the apostles to the church. The petition is used extensively throughout the Psalms. It is also mentioned by Jesus Christ in the parable of the Pharisee and the publican (Lk. 18:13) and appears in various places in the Gospels, used by different persons asking Christ for mercy (Mt. 9:27, 15:22, 20:30; Mk. 10:47; Lk. 18:38).
The term Kyrie eleison or its equivalent in other languages is widely used in all church prayers, of which the following instances deserve mention:
- at the beginning of the prayers of the CANONICAL HOURS.
- in the annual and Kiyahk psalmodia, particularly in the petition said toward the end of the service.
- at the beginning of evening prayer and morning prayer, where the priest starts the petition of mercy before the Gospel petition; the deacon and the congregation respond by saying the Kyrie eleison three times.
- many times during the Divine Liturgy and as a special intercession.
- in the Liturgy of Saint Gregory.
- said by the congregation when the priest reads the petition of the FAST during morning prayer in the Fast of Jonah and in the Great Lent.
- many times during the performance of the sacraments.