During the course of the divine services, we often hear a
series of prayerful supplications which are intoned slowly by a deacon or the
priest in the name of all those praying. After each petition the choir sings,
"Lord, have mercy," or, "Grant this, O Lord." These are
called ectenias (litanies), which are Greek words meaning "entreaty"
or "ardent supplication."
These are five of the most frequently used
The Great Litany, or
Litany of Peace, begins with the words "In peace, let us pray to the
Lord." It contains many different petitions for prosperity and salvation
of various groups, and after each one the choir chants "Lord, have
The Small Litany is a
shortened form of the Great Litany. It begins with the words "Again and
again in peace let us pray to the Lord." It contains three petitions.
The Augmented Litany
begins with the words "Have mercy upon us, O God, according to Thy great
mercy, we pray Thee, hearken and have mercy." After each petition the
choir responds with "Lord, have mercy" thrice. Therefore the litany
is termed "augmented," since it is an intensified supplication.
The Litany of Fervent
Supplication begins with the words "Let us complete our morning (or
evening) prayer unto the Lord." After each of the petitions of this
litany, except for the first two, the choir responds with "Grant this, O
The Litany for the
Reposed is composed of entreaties to the Lord that He might grant rest in the
Heavenly Kingdom to the souls of the departed by forgiving them all their sins.
Each of these litanies
concludes with an exclamation by the priest glorifying the Most-holy Trinity.
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