(One of the goals of Brothers of John the Steadfast is to train the Brothers in good practice and theology. This article is one in a series that teaches about the liturgy.
These articles were initially intended to be put into bulletins or read during the service to educate the laity on the different parts of the service. They were therefore purposefully made short.
Notes on the Liturgy #6 — Kyrie & Gloria
Kyrie means “Lord.” In the Kyrie, we call out “Lord have mercy.” It is not specifically a prayer of forgiveness. We already asked for forgiveness at the beginning of the service with Confession. We use the Kyrie not unlike the way it is used in the Bible–a general call for God’s help (Psalm 41:4; Ps 123:3; Matt 17:15, Matthew 15:21). The Kyrie should be sung in confidence knowing we have a strong and loving God who does indeed come to the aid of His people! This pleases God, for He is the one who invites us to call on Him in our need (Ps 50:15).
Having prayed for God’s mercy it is very fitting to go onto the Gloria. “Coming immediately after the Kyrie, without a single word between, the Gloria is a response to the Kyrie itself…” (The Lutheran Liturgy, L. Reed). The Gloria recalls the angels hymn of praise at the birth of Christ (Luke 2:14). It is God’s ultimate answer to our call “Lord have mercy.” In Christ, we have not only forgiveness but also fullness of life. Even if the whole world would come to help us in our troubles, if we didn’t have Christ we would be truly helpless. On the other hand, even if the whole world is against us and life is most miserable, and yet in Christ we know nothing can hinder His deliverance!
These notes were originally written in 2001 by Pastor David Oberdieck and have been edited.