What is the Kyrie, and why do we sing it?
Pastor Paul’s response is this:
When Christianity became legal (after 300 A.D.), one person would lead the people holding a cross while the pastors, walking along, would sing a Christian hymn. They would start at the outskirts of town and go through the main streets, gathering the congregation. When they reached the place of worship, they would continue with readings from the Scripture (the Word). A song with the words Kyrie eleison (Lord, have mercy in Greek) was soon a favorite. The people or pastors would shout out something or someone who needed prayer and the people would sing in reply "Lord, have mercy.” This is the way the Kyrie (eleison) began.
Note: The story of the Gloria in Excelsis (or Hymn of Praise) is much the same.
The pattern for our worship-Gathering, Word, Meal, and Sending--has remained the same for 2000 years. The reasons are simple: a) we stand in continuity with all Christians who have gone before us, and b) it works and makes sense.
Blessings upon you, Pastor Paul Uhl