A Wonderful Invitation: Pastor Harrison Invites, and Encourages Us, to Pray the Litany Daily During Lent

Found on Pastor Paul McCain’s blog, Cyberbrethren:


Pastor Matthew Harrison, president of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod has extended a wonderful invitation and word of encouragement to us all: pray the Litany every day in Lent. I’d add to this, if you can, to do so on your knees.

Here is Pastor Harrison’s blog post on the Litany with his invitation. If I’m not mistaken, the picture in the post is the “prie-dieu” Pastor Harrison made for himself, recently, before he painted it.

Let’s Pray the Litany Daily: Kyrie Eleison!


I’ve long enjoyed praying the Litany. Luther did too. The prayer has an amazing longevity in the church, having found its form by the 6th century (Gregory the Great regularized it). Luther removed a few un-evangelical aspects, but retained the prayer nearly in toto, even rendering it into German and proving an original chant tone. Click HERE for a nice overview of the history of the Litany. Left to ourselves, bereft of texts as the foundation of our prayers, we are often left praying “Dear God, give me a mini-bike,” as I was wont to pray as a 12 year old – and am prone to pray even today!!!!!! Texts of the scriptures (Lord’s Prayer, Ten Commandments) and scriptural texts (Creed, Litany!) lay down God’s thoughts as the foundation of prayer, the tarmac if you will, from which our meditations may gently or quickly rise, aided by the Holy Spirit. The fulsome petitions of the Litany take us out of ourselves, to pray for the church, pastors and teachers, our enemies, women with children, the poor, the imprisoned and much much more. And all for mercy, growing out of the great petitions of the blind, the lame and the ill who comes to Jesus in the New Testament, “Lord have mercy!” “Kyrie eleison!” The Lord loves to have mercy. The Lord came to have mercy. The Lord continues to have mercy. You’ll find the litany in any standard Lutheran hymnal worth it’s salt. Pray it daily with me for Lent won’t you?

Pastor Matthew Harrison

Luther had a deep appreciation for the Litany. Of course, he rejected the invocation of the saints that had become a part of it, and he wanted to have the Litany sung in the church rather than at processions, but as early as 1519 he expressed his approval of it.1 During the reforms in Wittenberg under Karlstadt, 1521/22, it seems to have fallen into disuse. But the national emergency created when the Turks threatened the faith and freedom of all Christian lands prompted Luther to revive it. In his On War Against the Turks, begun in October, 1528, he insisted on the importance of believing prayer. “This might help if at Matins, Vespers, or after the sermon, we had the Litany sung or read in the church, especially by the young folk.”2 And shortly after, on February 13, 1529, he could report to Nicholas Hausmann, “We sing the Litany in church in Latin and in the vernacular; perhaps the music or melody of both versions will be published.”3 The same year saw the fulfilment of this promise. One month later he sent the first print of the German Litany with music to Hausmann. The accompanying letter referred to the fact that the Latin Litany Corrected had not yet been published,4 but this too followed before the end of the summer.

Luther’s Litanies with their appended collects are closely modeled after the Roman Litany of All Saints.5 Nevertheless, there are significant differences between them:

1. Luther omitted the invocations of the saints and the intercession for the pope and the departed.

2. Luther made the intercessions more specific than in the Roman form, as, e.g., in the petitions for faithful pastors, for the erring, for faithful laborers, etc.6

3. Luther simplified the music, especially for the responses.

LW 53.154

 

Here is the Litany:

THE LITANY

L: O Lord,
C: have mercy.
L: O Christ,
C: have mercy.
L: O Lord,
C: have mercy.
L: O Christ,
C: hear us.
L: God the Father in heaven.
C: have mercy.
L: God the Son, Redeemer of the world,
C: have mercy.
L: God the Holy Spirit,
C: have mercy.
L: Be gracious to us.
C: Spare us, good Lord.
L: Be gracious to us.
C: Help us, good Lord.
L: From all sin, from all error, from all evil;
From the crafts and assaults of the devil; from sudden and evil death;
From pestilence and famine; from war and bloodshed; from sedition and from rebellion;
From lightning and tempest; from all calamity by fire and water, and from everlasting death:
C: Good Lord, deliver us.
L: By the mystery of Your holy incarnation; by Your holy nativity;
By your baptism, fasting, and temptation; by Your agony and bloody sweat; by Your cross and passion; by Your precious death and burial;
By Your glorious resurrection and ascension; and by the coming of the Holy Spirit, the Comforter;
C: Help us, good Lord.
L: In all time of our tribulation; in all time of our prosperity; in the hour of death; and in the day of judgment:
C: Help us, good Lord.
L: We poor sinners implore You
C: to hear us, O Lord.
L: To rule and govern Your holy Christian Church; to preserve all pastors and ministers of Your Church in the true knowledge and understanding of Your wholesome Word and to sustain them in holy living;
To put an end to all schisms and causes of offense; to bring into the way of truth all who have erred and are deceived;
To beat down Satan under our feet; to send faithful laborers into Your harvest; and to accompany Your Word with Your grace and Spirit:
C: We implore You to hear us, good Lord.
L: To raise those who fall and to strengthen those who stand; and to comfort and help the weakhearted and the distressed:
C: We implore You to hear us, good Lord.
L: To give to all peoples concord and peace; to preserve our land from discord and strife; to give our country Your protection in every time of need;
To direct and defend our president and all in authority; to bless and protect our magistrates and all our people;
To watch over and help all who are in danger, necessity, and tribulation; to protect and guide all who travel;
To grant all women with child, and all mothers with infant children, increasing happiness in their blessings; to defend all orphans and widows and provide for them;
To strengthen and keep all sick persons and young children; to free those in bondage; and to have mercy on us all;
C: We implore You to hear us, good Lord.
L: To forgive our enemies, persecutors, and slanderers and to turn their hearts; to give and preserve for our use the kindly fruits of the earth; and graciously to hear our prayers:
C: We implore You to hear us, good Lord.
L: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God,
C: we implore You to hear us.
L: Christ, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world,
C: have mercy.
L: Christ, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world,
C: have mercy.
L: Christ, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world,
C: grant us Your peace.
L: O Christ,
C: hear us.
L: O Lord,
C: have mercy.
L: O Christ,
C: have mercy.
L: O Lord
C: have mercy. Amen.

 

You can download the Litany in pamphlet form here; print it double-sided to one 8.5×11 sheet you can fold in the middle to have a pamphlet. If you have a double-sided printer and this prints the second side backwards, print this version.

A bulletin insert (feel free to modify or improve!):

LCMS President Pastor Matthew Harrison asks for members of LCMS churches to pray the litany daily during Lent as a way to help improve our devotion times. His wording: “Left to ourselves, bereft of texts as the foundation of our prayers, we are often left praying “Dear God, give me a mini-bike,” as I was wont to pray as a 12 year old – and am prone to pray even today! … The fulsome petitions of the Litany take us out of ourselves, to pray for the church, pastors and teachers, our enemies, women with children, the poor, the imprisoned and much much more.” The Litany is found on page 288 of The Lutheran Hymnal, page 1310 of Treasury of Daily Prayer, or more information about this can be found online at http://yaag.org/r/litany

Be sure to catch the updated post with Pastor Harrison’s video.

 

 

About Norm Fisher

Norm was raised in the UCC in Connecticut, and like many fell away from the church after high school. With this background he saw it primarily as a service organization. On the miracle of his first child he came back to the church. On moving to Texas a few years later he found a home in Lutheranism when he was invited to a confessional church a half-hour away by our new neighbors.

He is one of those people who found a like mind in computers while in Middle School and has been programming ever since. He's responsible for many websites, including the Book of Concord, LCMSsermons.com, and several other sites.

He has served the church in various positions, including financial secretary, sunday school teacher, elder, PTF board member, and choir member.

More of his work can be found at KNFA.net.

Comments

A Wonderful Invitation: Pastor Harrison Invites, and Encourages Us, to Pray the Litany Daily During Lent — 20 Comments

  1. I’m In! Have begun this morning and have it laying on my desk here at work next to my Bible. I’m not a “Bible Thumper” but do need the accountability that a “Bible on my desk” brings with it.

  2. You can also find this in the TLH on page 111 and we love the one on 661 in the TLH. But this is a good idea to use it daily during lent!!

  3. It’s also on page 289 of the Lutheran Service Book, page 1310 in the Treasury of Daily Prayer (TDP) and available on the TDP iPhone/iPad app. 🙂

  4. This is very good and proper. One more item I still wish we had kneelers in our churchs. I’m not trying to cause a stir. It is most solemn and so meaningful.

  5. I just prepared a insert that may be used for your church bulletins.

    LCMS President Pastor Matthew Harrison asks for members of LCMS churches to pray the litany daily during Lent as a way to help improve our devotion times. His wording: “Left to ourselves, bereft of texts as the foundation of our prayers, we are often left praying “Dear God, give me a mini-bike,” as I was wont to pray as a 12 year old – and am prone to pray even today! … The fulsome petitions of the Litany take us out of ourselves, to pray for the church, pastors and teachers, our enemies, women with children, the poor, the imprisoned and much much more.” The Litany is found on page 288 of The Lutheran Hymnal, page 1310 of Treasury of Daily Prayer, or more information about this can be found online at http://yaag.org/r/litany

  6. This has long been one of my favorite private devotions. It is even better when read responsively. Timeless, wonderful entreaties for Christ’s mercy. I am very happy that President Harrison has brought this to everyone’s attention.

  7. I wish we had kneelers, too. I am a former Episcopagan, and kneelers are the one and only thing I miss.

    Everything else is much, much better in the LCMS (the catechesis and Bible Study I have received, for instance; wow! what a difference!). I was raised a Universalist, grew up knowing next to nothing about Christianity, and was admitted to the Episcopal Church with very little catechesis.

    But I still miss the kneelers (okay, okay, and genuflecting, yes I miss that, too). I still cross myself at appropriate points during the service, but now use the Orthodox style as does our Pastor (BTW, is that universal in the LCMS?). Even my lifetime-LCMS husband is now crossing himself when I do (never thought it would happen!)

    One especially nice thing about the kneelers is that in the Episcopal Church, we always pulled out a kneeler when we entered the pew and said a silent prayer before the service began. That practice really helps keep the sanctuary atmosphere quiet and reverent before the service. When the person next to you is kneeling and obviously praying, you will not attempt to start a conversation.

  8. Didn’t mean to try to hijack the thread. I don’t get a chance to talk about kneelers with anybody very often. So I replied without thinking. Please forgive me if I broke a thread rule.

  9. This version leaves out the powerful grounding of the prayer in Christ: “By the mystery of your holy incarnation. . . By your agony and bloody sweat.” That looks like just a typographical error. Please include that in the pdf.!

    Also, the version in the hymnal is even better, since it puts these prayers in the context of the Lord’s prayer, collects, and other prayers and petitions.

  10. Great stuff. The prayer covers everything! It belongs in Luther’s great book on prayer.

  11. @Elizabeth #9 – You might enjoy this tidbit from a translation of Rocholl, Geschichte d. ev. Kirche in Deutschland, in which we find not only these words “In 1619 all the churches in the Archbishopric of Magdeburg were strictly charged to pray the Litany,” but also, “”There were no churches in which they did not kneel in confession and at the Consecration of the Elements.” (http://www.angelfire.com/ny4/djw/lutherantheology.ceremonies.html)

  12. In his book “Worship Wars in Early Lutheranism,” Joseph Herl notes that “A number of church orders specify that the Litany was to be sung once a week on Wednesday or Friday, but many places omitted the Litany except during times of war or other danger,” (p. 38) and again, “Most orders specified that a sermon be held at least once during the week, and many directed that the Litany be sung weekly after the sermon. Luther composed both Latin and German settings of the Litany, and the latter was generally used on weekdays,” (p. 66).

    So, the Litany can also be sung . . . and it might be a tune that sticks in your head as you “hum” it all day long! 🙂

  13. @Walter R Wagner #17

    Rudy: The update is the 11th reading, which starts:

    L: By the mystery of Your holy incarnation; by Your holy nativity;
    By your baptism, fasting, and temptation;

    It is found in both the text above as well as in the PDF file. Your browser may have decided that the previously-loaded file (cache) was valid and didn’t download a new PDF file, or it may have named it with a (1) after it, and you are looking at the wrong file. Delete the original PDF file you downloaded and try again — you should get the new version of it.

    By the way, the “yaag.org/r/litany” is simply a shortcode to get to this page — since I suggested putting that in a bulletin announcement, making it as short and easy to type as possible is important — people may not be able to figure out how to type “/?p=14102”, or may misspell “steadfastlutherans”, but yaag.org/r/litany should be easy to type.

  14. @Norm Fisher #18
    Thanks. I’ll try that, although I do have it available in all the resources cited above. Having a printed copy to insert in the bible I use is nice.

    Rudy

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