Kyrie, Eleison / Lord, Have Mercy

Kyrie eleison (KI-ree-ay ay-LAY-ee-zonn) or “Lord, have mercy” is a short prayer that is important in Christian worship. It is a prayer from the heart about human need. God owes us nothing. Everything he gives comes from his mercy. 

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

Original in Greek:

Κύριε, ἐλέησον.
Χριστέ, ἐλέησον.
Κύριε, ἐλέησον.

Greek transliterated:

Kyrie eleison.
Christe eleison.
Kyrie eleison.

Some worship traditions translate Kyrie eleison as “Lord, have mercy.” Some leave it untranslated as is done for words like “Amen” and “Alleluia.”

Kyrie eleison, Christe eleison, Kyrie eleison are the first words in the main part of the Divine Service, either as a cry of repentance or as a prayer for God’s mercy in all aspects of life.

Kyrie eleison Deutsches Messe
Kyrie eleison, found in Evangelisches Gesangbuch für Rheinland und Westfalen, 1902. It was taken from Luther’s Deutsches Messe.
The Threefold Kyrie, tune from Luther’s German Mass with English Text. Book of Hymns (WELS, 1920, 1931)

The second use, as a prayer for God’s mercy in all aspects of life, often includes Kyrie eleison or” Lord, have mercy” as a response in a litany that brings the requests for the Lord to have mercy.  See “Help, Save, Have Mercy on Us” for such a responsive Kyrie prayer that has a very long history.

In Matins (Morning Prayer) and Vespers (Evening Prayer) Kyrie eleison, Christe eleison, Kyrie eleison or their translation appear in some form at the end of the service before the Lord’s Prayer.

As short as the Kyrie is, it has been set to music, both as the short Kyrie, and as a Kyrie with extended petitions.

Here it is from Bach’s Mass in B Minor:

Here it is in German, known to English-speaking Lutherans as “Kyrie, God, Father in heaven above”:

Here it is as a responsive litany, sung by pastor and people. Text uses some of the petitions from “Help, Save, Have Mercy on Us” (Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom). (Video and audio quality aren’t the best, but the performance was led by Regina H. Fryxell, who was the composer / arranger.)  Here the Kyrie is followed by the Gloria.

A ‘Mass’ of Prayers


do not look on my many sins,
but in your mercy
provide for all my needs,
food, clothing, shelter,
for I cannot survive without these,
or without you.
Lord, have mercy.

you gave yourself for us all
as the Lamb of God
to bear our sins.
Remember me, whom you bought
with your own blood.
Christ, have mercy.

keep breathing into my heart
the Word of your Gospel.
Light that flame of faith in my heart,
and keep it burning.
Strengthen, counsel and comfort me.
I need your power to live connected to God.
I need your power to make my light shine.
Lord, have mercy.

Gloria in Excelsis

Glory to you, O Lord,
heavenly king, almighty Father.
You dwell above all things
yet you looked down on me in love
and gave me peace and goodwill
in your Son, Jesus Christ my Lord.
My praise is so weak.
I am so distracted.
But still, I lift my voice to praise and thank you
for your grace, mercy, patience and love.

Glory to you, Lord Jesus Christ,
Lamb of God, Son of the Father.
You came as promised to bear my griefs,
carry my sorrows,
and bear the sin of the whole world
like a sacrificial lamb.
You became what you were not,
human, weak, poor, despised,
to make me what I was not,
a child of God, holy and blameless in your sight.
You know human weakness first hand.
Hear my prayers, and bring my needs
to your Father in heaven.

Glory to you, Holy Spirit.
You are living and active
and so is the Word you inspired
the Apostles and Prophets to write.
Write your Word in my heart.
Be the lamp to my feet and the light for my path.
Live in me. Move me. Govern and guide me
so I live to your glory,
and not to my own,
so in your time
I may enjoy your glory forever.

You alone, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
are holy, exalted, and worthy of all praise,
now and forever.


I believe, Lord.
Help me overcome my unbelief.
Your Word
is set before my eyes
and falls upon my ears.
I know it.
Still, help me overcome my doubts.
The world around me
is setting its own truth
before my eyes
and into my ears,
and its false truths are everywhere.
Yours is only in your book.
Turn my attention
back to your book.
Strengthen my faith.
Move me to accept your truth as fact
and to turn a deaf ear and a blind eye
to the lies from without
and the lies from within.
send your Holy Spirit
to do his work
to govern and guide
and strengthen me
day by day
so that I always trust
every Word,
every promise,
every fact
your Spirit moved
the holy men to write,
and that my trust
may show
in all I say
and do.


Dirty, broken, hurting
is all humanity.
All the earth is full of sin and pain.
But you are holy.
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts.”
Isaiah couldn’t bear to look at your glory,
but you lifted him up
and purified his lips.
You, Christ, have come to us
once in human flesh and blood,
now in ink and paper,
water and Word,
bread and wine,
your body and blood,
to purify us
so that we may stand
in your presence.

Agnus Dei

O Jesus,
the pain you suffered on the cross
was all mine.
It was my sin you carried,
along with that of the whole world.
What mercy!

O Jesus,
the pains I suffer now,
all griefs, all sorrows,
is all my fault,
and it weighs heavy on me.
You alone can carry it,
in fact, you have already taken it away.
And you tell me to come,
in all my weariness
with all my burdens,
and you promise
to give me rest and refreshment.
What mercy!

O Jesus,
on that cross,
you said one word.
One sweet word.
A word just as momentous
as “Let there be light.”
That one word was
“It is finished.”
You paid for my sin.
You brought me to your Father.
You made me your own.
I need to do nothing
but trust you.
What peace!


Source: Paul C. Stratman © 2017

For a prayer reflecting on the “Nunc Dimittis,” see

The Lutheran Hymnary

TLHy.pngThe Lutheran Hymnary was published in 1913 by American Lutheran church bodies that were of Norwegian heritage. The first setting of the Divine Service is quite different from the Common Service tradition, reflecting the traditions in Norwegian Lutheran worship.

The second setting of the Divine Service, along with Vespers were taken and slightly modified from the Evangelical-Lutheran Hymn-Book (1913), from Concordia Publishing House, and have mostly the same music that would later appear in The Lutheran Hymnal (1941).

The Lutheran Hymnary did not have a large liturgical or prayer section like The Common Service Book of the Lutheran Church. However, it did have some unique gems such as the prayers in the first setting of the Divine Service and the Exhortation in both settings tlhy_title_pageof the communion services.  So we make the texts available here. Along with the services below, The Lutheran Hymnary also included a musical version of the Litany, nearly identical in text to the one in Common Service Book, and a selection of psalms. Along with the traditional introits and collects, The Lutheran Hymnary also included the collects of Veit Dietrich, which are also included below, and are also available here on A Collection of Prayers in revised form.

The Lutheran Hymnary is available in graphic pdf format on Google Books and on

The Lutheran Hymnary

  1. The Order of Morning Service (I) [pdf] [docx]
  2. The Evening Service (I) [pdf] [docx]
  3. The Order of Morning Service, or The Communion (II) [pdf] [docx]
    • Updated version in contemporary English [pdf] [docx]
  4. Order of Evening Service, or Vespers (II) [pdf] [docx]
    • Updated version in contemporary English [pdf] [docx]
  5. The Collects of Veit Dietrich (Traditional English) [pdf] [docx]

The Common Service Book of the Lutheran Church

csblcThe Common Service Book of the Lutheran Church was published in several editions, text only and text with music in 1917 and 1918. It is freely available through Google Books (text, text with music) and (text, text with music). It was put together by the United Lutheran Church in America and several other American Lutheran bodies. Because of the date of publication, it is now in the public domain.

Other worship books like The Lutheran Hymnary (Norwegian Synods, 1913), Evangelical-Lutheran Hymn Book (LCMS, 1912), Book of Hymns (WELS, 1931) and The Lutheran Hymnal (LCMS-WELS-ELS Synodical Conference, 1941) drew from earlier versions of the rites when the Common Service was researched and compiled in 1888. Service Book and Hymnal (1958) built on the work of the Common Service Book and in many areas expanded the options in its services. Modern hymnals such as Lutheran Book of Worship, Lutheran Worship, Christian Worship: A Lutheran Hymnal, Evangelical Lutheran Hymnary, Evangelical Lutheran Worship, and Lutheran Service Book have all been greatly influenced by the rites and prayers in Common Service Book.

csbThe services of the Common Service Book are in the tradition of the Western Rite. Roman Catholics will recognize these services as very similar to the texts of the Mass and the liturgies of the hours. Anglicans/Episcopalians will see common elements to the Book of Common Prayer. 

The Common Service Book used Scripture texts from the King James Version of the Bible, used British spellings (Saviour, honour, etc.), and capitalized pronouns referring to the Deity, including Who/Whom, along with other words such as Name when referring to the name of God.

For this electronic edition, different editions were consulted, so the files below may not be exactly the same as any one print edition. These files were made by modifying and correcting the texts that were generated by the pdf files of the original books and putting them into a usable format. Headings and rubrics were put in red, even though they were printed black in the original books.

To properly display the docx files, you will need the fonts Old English Text MT and Liturgy. Updated contemporary versions also use the Liturgikon symbol font (embedded in the docx documents).

CSB.pngThe Common Service Book of the Lutheran Church, Electronic Resources

  1. The Calendar [pdf] [docx]
  2. The Service [pdf] [docx]
    • Updated version in contemporary English [pdf] [docx]
  3. Matins [pdf] [docx]
    • Updated version in contemporary English [pdf] [docx]
  4. Vespers [pdf] [docx]
    • Updated version in contemporary English [pdf] [docx]
  5. Introits, Collects, Epistles, Graduals and Gospels  [pdf] [docx]
    • Updated versions of the introits, collects and graduals and lessons (ESV), prepared for the LCMS Lutheran Service Book are available at
  6. Sentences for the Seasons [pdf] [docx]
    • Updated version in contemporary English [pdf] [docx]
  7. Invitatories, Antiphons and Responsories [pdf] [docx]
  8. Collects and Prayers [pdf] [docx]
    • Updated version in contemporary English [pdf] [docx]
  9. The Litany [pdf] [docx]
    • Updated version in contemporary English [pdf] [docx]
  10. The Suffrages [pdf] [docx]
    • Updated version in contemporary English [pdf] [docx]
  11. The Bidding Prayer [pdf] [docx]
    • Updated version in contemporary English [pdf] [docx]
  12. The General Prayers [pdf] [docx]
  13. The Canticles [pdf] [docx]
    • Biblical texts from ESV and other texts updated in contemporary English [pdf] [docx]
  14. Order for Public Confession (not in all editions of Common Service Book) [pdf] [docx]
  15. The Occasional Services  [pdf] [docx]
  16. General Rubrics [pdf] [docx]

The hymns of the Common Service Book with Hymnal are available at

Religion Old Book Book Antique Prayer Book FaithThere’s more! Go to to access prayers by era, topic, liturgical use and author!

Put a link to the index on your computer or phone’s desktop for instant access to A Collection of Prayers as an online prayer book!

Lutheran Service Book, Evangelical Lutheran Worship, Christian Worship: A Lutheran Hymnal