Kyrie, a transliteration of Greek Κύριε (Kyrie), vocative case of Κύριος (Kyrios), on whose meaning see Kyrios (biblical term), is a common name of an important prayer of Christian liturgy, also called the Kyrie eleison / / (Greek: Κύριε, ἐλέησον, Kýrie eléison, "Lord, have mercy").
In Eastern Christianity
The various litanies, frequent in that rite, generally have Lord, have mercy as their response, either singly or triply. Some petitions in these litanies will have twelve or even forty repetitions of the phrase as a response.
The phrase is the origin of the Jesus Prayer, beloved by Christians of that rite and increasingly popular amongst Western Christians.
The biblical roots of this prayer first appear in 1 Chronicles 16:34
...give thanks to the LORD; for he is good; for his mercy endures for ever...
The prayer is simultaneously a petition and a prayer of thanksgiving; an acknowledgment of what God has done, what God is doing, and what God will continue to do. It is refined in the Parable of The Publican (Luke 18:9-14), "God, have mercy on me, a sinner", which shows more clearly its connection with the Jesus Prayer.
Since the early centuries of Christianity, the Greek phrase, Kýrie, eléison, is also extensively used in the Coptic (Egyptian) Christian liturgy, which uses both the Coptic and the Greek language.
In Western Christianity
In Rome, the sacred Liturgy was first celebrated in Greek. As Christianity gained popularity, the Roman Mass was translated into Latin, but the familiar and venerated Greek prayer Kýrie, eléison was preserved, as were Hebrew phrases such as "Alleluia" and "Hosanna". Jungmann[full citation needed] and other scholars conjecture that the Kyrie in the Roman Mass is a vestige of a litany at the beginning of the Mass, like that of some Eastern churches.
As early as the sixth century, Pope Gregory the Great notes that there were differences in the way in which eastern and western churches sang Kyrie. In the eastern churches all sing it at the same time, whereas in the western church the clergy sing it and the people respond. Also the western church sang Christe eleison as many times as Kyrie eleison.
In the Roman Rite liturgy, a variant, Christe, eléison, a transliteration of Greek Χριστέ, ἐλέησον, is introduced. In the Tridentine Mass form of that rite, Kýrie, eléison is sung or said three times, followed by a threefold Christe, eléison and by another threefold Kýrie, eléison. In the Paul VI Mass form, each invocation is made only once by the celebrating priest or by a cantor, with a single repetition, each time, by the congregation. Even if Mass is celebrated in the vernacular, the Kyrie may be in Greek. This prayer occurs directly following the Penitential Rite or is incorporated in that rite as one of the three alternative forms provided in the Roman Missal. The Penitential Rite and Kyrie may be replaced by the Rite of Sprinkling.
"Kyrie, eleison" (or "Lord, have mercy") may also be used as a response of the people to intentions mentioned in the Prayer of the Faithful.
Since 1549, Anglicans have normally sung or said the Kyrie in English. In the 1552 Book of Common Prayer, the Kyrie was inserted into a recitation of the Ten Commandments. Modern revisions of the Prayer Book have restored the option of using the Kyrie without the Commandments. In modern Anglican churches, it is common to say (or sing) either the Kyrie or the Gloria in Excelsis Deo, but not both. In this case, the Kyrie may be said in penitential seasons like Lent and Advent, while the Gloria is said the rest of the year. Anglo-Catholics, however, usually follow Roman norms in this as in most other liturgical matters.
Other denominations also, such as Lutheranism, use "Kyrie, eleison" in their liturgies.
In the Tridentine Mass, the Kyrie is the first sung prayer in the Order of Mass. It is usually (but not always) part of any musical setting of the Mass. Kyrie movements often have an ternary (ABA) musical structure that reflects the symmetrical structure of the text. Musical settings exist in styles ranging from Gregorian chant to Folk.
Of 226 catalogued Gregorian chant melodies, 30 appear in the Liber Usualis. In what are presumed to be the oldest versions, the same melody is repeated for the first eight iterations, and a variation used on the final line (that is, formally, aaa aaa aaa'). These repeats are notated by the Roman numerals "iij" (for three times) or "ij" (for twice). The Kyrie for the Requiem Mass in the Liber Usualis has this form. Later Kyries have more elaborate patterns, such as aaa bbb aaa', aaa bbb ccc', or aba cdc efe'. Note that the final line is nearly always modified somewhat; in some cases this may be because it leads into the Gloria better. In forms both with and without literal repeats, most Kyries in the Liber Usualis have a closing phrase used in nearly all of the lines of the text. This in fact parallels the text, as each line ends with the same word "eleison".
Because of the brevity of the text, Kyries were often very melismatic. This encouraged later composers to make tropes out of them, either by adding words to the melisma (as how a sequence is often considered), or extending the melisma. In fact, because of the late date of most Kyries, it is not always clear whether a particular Kyrie melody or the apparently troped text came first; it could just as easily be the case that a syllabic song was converted into a melisma for a Kyrie verse. In some cases, verses interpolate Latin text between each "Kyrie" (or "Christe") and "eleison".
As the Kyrie is the first item in settings of the mass ordinary and the second in the requiem mass (the only mass proper set regularly over the centuries), nearly all of the thousands of composers over the centuries who have set the ordinaries of the mass to music have included a Kyrie movement.
The original pronunciation in Medieval Greek was [ˈcyri.e eˈle.ison xrisˈte eˈle.ison], just when the Byzantine Rite was in force. The transliteration of ἐλέησον as "eléison" shows that the non-classical itacist pronunciation of the Greek letter eta (η) is used. Although the Greek words have seven syllables (Ký-ri-e, e-lé-i-son), pronunciations as six syllables (Ký-ri-e, e-léi-son) or five (Ký-rie, e-léi-son) have been used.
In Ecclesiastical Latin a variety of pronunciations are used, the italianate [ˈkirie eˈleison krisˈte eˈleison] having been proposed as a standard.[dubious ] Text underlay in mediaeval and Renaissance music attests that "Ký-ri-e-léi-son" (five syllables) was the most common setting until perhaps the mid-16th century. William Byrd's Mass for Four Voices is a notable example of a musical setting originally written with five syllables in mind, later altered for six syllables.
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- The choral composition The Spheres by composer Ola Gjeilo is dedicated to the words "Kyrie Eleison."
- The Mass in B minor by Johann Sebastian Bach (1749) has a section dedicated to the Kyrie.
- The Requiem Mass in D minor by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1791; completed in 1792 by Franz Xaver Süssmayr) has a movement dedicated to the Kyrie.
- The first movement of Ludwig van Beethoven's Mass in C major (1805) is a choral Kyrie.
- Tom Lehrer's satirical song "The Vatican Rag" (1965) includes "Kyrie eleison" in its lyrics. 
- The vocal group The Association produced a Requiem for the Masses as a war protest in 1967. Ordinary ("Kyrie, eleison") and Proper texts of the traditional Requiem Mass were included.
- The psychedelic rock band The Electric Prunes recorded a version of "Kyrie Eleison" as part of their album Mass in F Minor (1967). It was part of the soundtrack of the movie Easy Rider released in 1969.
- Quebec rock band Offenbach sang "Kyrie" in their 1972 rock version of the Mass for the Dead at the Oratoire Saint-Joseph.
- The progressive metal act Fates Warning released a track on their album The Spectre Within (1985) entitled "Kyrie eleison".
- The band Mr. Mister released the single "Kyrie" in late 1985. The song was covered by East To West in 1993, and by AVB in 1994. Clay Aiken has also performed the song during tours. Mark Schultz remixed the single in his 2002 album Song Cinema. The British artist DJ Rap produced a UK 'Ardkore single in 1992 by the name of "Divine Rhythm" which heavily sampled the intro and vocal from Mr. Mister's single "Kyrie".
- The second track on Malignus Youth's 1993 album, a punk setting of the Roman Catholic Mass entitled "Missa Brevis," is "Kyrie."
- Virgin Black's Requiem trilogy uses the text cyclically.
- The David Crowder Band recorded an original song, "God Have Mercy (Kyrie Eleison)", that quotes the original Latin text in the background.
- The song "The Donor" from Judee Sill's album Heart Food is built around choral arrangements of the Kyrie.
- Sinéad O'Connor recorded "Kyrie Eleison" on the album Faith and Courage (2000).
- The Japanese group Kalafina recorded a song called "Kyrie" by composer Yuki Kajiura which quotes the original Kyrie text.
- The song "Mona Lisa Overdrive", from Juno Reactor's album Labyrinth, features a Kyrie section.
- Finnish heavy metal guitarist Timo Tolkki composed a song entitled "Kyrie Eleison" for his band Revolution Renaissance for his album Age of Aquarius (2008). The original Kyrie text is chanted behind the lead vocals.
- Ace of Base has a song called "Kyrie Eleison".
- Scottish musician Gerry Rafferty recorded a version, titled "Kyrie Elieson", to open Life Goes On, the last CD that he released (2009).
- The American indie band The Eastern Sea's song "Central Cemetery" on the album Plague (2012) has "Kyrie, eleison" in its lyrics.
- On the 1990 album MCMXC a.D. by Enigma, the song "Mea Culpa" heavily uses "Kyrie, eleison" in its lyrics.
- Michael Nyman and Trevor Jones have composed settings of the Kyrie for film music.
- Japanese classical-crossover singer Kanon sang a song named "Kyrie" which included words from the original text in her 2007 album Precious.
- John Rutter, "Requiem" uses "Kyrie, eleison" in the first movement, "Requiem aeternam".
- The song "An Angel Returned" from the Trans-Siberian Orchestra album Christmas Eve and Other Stories includes the words "Kryie Among Nations" repeated throughout the final chorus.
Theatre, film, and television
- In the 1963 film Lord of the Flies, based on the novel by William Golding and directed by Peter Brook, the choir boys sing "Kyrie eleison".
- The Kyrie section of György Ligeti's Requiem is heard during appearances of the Monolith in the 1968 Stanley Kubrick science fiction film 2001: A Space Odyssey.
- A version of the Kyrie by The Electric Prunes (1967) is heard in the soundtrack of the 1969 film Easy Rider.
- In the film Excalibur, the musical score for Arthur's wedding to Guinevere is a Kyrie.
- In Disney's 1996 film The Hunchback of Notre Dame, "Kyrie, eleison" can be heard in some musical numbers and songs. Most prominently, it is repeated in the background chorus of the "Hellfire" portion of "Heaven's Light/Hellfire", and in the background chorus of "The Bells of Notre Dame".
- In the movie Matrix Reloaded, during the epic chase scene, the choir chants 'Kyrie Eleison' just before Morpheus blasts the Twins into oblivion.
- In the musical Notre Dame de Paris the line "Kyrie, eleison" is sung by Quasimodo.
- In the 1996 Broadway musical Rent and its 2004 film adaptation, at the beginning of the number "La vie Boheme", Collins and Roger quote the text of the Kyrie as part of a mock requiem for "the death of Bohemia".
- In Ever After, "Kyrie eleison" is being sung by the choir during the wedding of Prince Henry to the Spanish princess.
- The 2006 anime series Death Note showcased an atmospheric rendition of the Kyrie chant with orchestra and vocals.
- In the 1986 film The Name Of The Rose, monks can be heard chanting the song "Kyrie eleison".
- In the anime Elfen Lied, the words "Kyrie, ignis divine, eleison" [Lord, divine fire, have mercy] can be heard during the opening theme.
- In the anime Hunter x Hunter, during Neteros fight with Meruem, a chant designed for the anime plays consisting solely of Kyrie Eleison played over and over during the fight.
- The anime series "Haruhi Suzumiya" has a tracked named "Shinjin" which features a choir chanting "Kyrie eleison."
- In Act I of the 1983 Hungarian rock opera István,_a_király, "Kyrie eleison" is featured at the funeral of Géza.
- A "Kyrie eleison" setting appears as the loading menu theme in the games Castlevania: Rondo of Blood and in Castlevania: Circle of the Moon.
- Civilization IV's soundtrack for the Medieval era includes a Kyrie by Johannes Ockeghem.
- In the Japanese adult visual novel Fate/stay night, priest Kotomine Kirei uses the prayer during exorcising Matou Zouken.
- In Assassin's Creed Rogue 2014 there is a mission titled "Kyrie Eleison".
- In Medieval II: Total War the main menu theme is layered around chants of "Kyrie Eleison".
- The title character in the book The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux composes a wedding song entitled "Kyrie eleison".
- The main character in Lothar-Günther Buchheim's novel Das Boot at one point shouts "Kyrie eleison!" in distress.
In various languages
- "Definitions for Medieval Christian Liturgy: Kyrie eleison". Yale University. Retrieved 10 March 2013.
- Gregory the Great, Epistles 9: 26, trans. Baldovin, Urban Worship, 244-245
- "Mass in C major, Op.86". IMSLP/Petrucci Music Library. Retrieved 24 January 2015.
- "Tom Lehrer - The Vatican Rag - fabulous version - LIVE FILM From Copenhagen in 1967". YouTube. Retrieved 24 January 2015.
- Hoppin, Richard. Medieval Music. New York: W. W. Norton and Co., 1978. ISBN 0-393-09090-6. Pages 133–134 (Gregorian chants), 150 (tropes).