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The Great Litany – Shawna R. B. Atteberry
Feb 282009
 

Tomorrow I will lead our church in chanting the Great Litany. Many Episcopal churches chant The Great Litany on the first Sunday in Lent. What is The Great Litany? Chantblog has the answer:

An intercessory prayer including various petitions that are said or sung by the leader, with fixed responses by the congregation. It was used as early as the fifth century in Rome. It was led by a deacon, with the collects led by a bishop or priest. The Litany was the first English language rite prepared by Archbishop Thomas Cranmer. It was first published in 1544. Cranmer modified an earlier litany form by consolidating certain groups of petitions into single prayers with response. The Litany’s use in church processions was ordered by Henry VIII when England was at war with Scotland and France. It was printed as an appendix to the eucharist in the 1549 BCP [Book of Common Prayer]. The Litany was used in each of the three ordination rites of the 1550 ordinal, with a special petition and concluding collect. The 1552 BCP called for use of the Litany after the fixed collects of Morning Prayer on Sundays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. The 1928 BCP allowed the Litany to be used after the fixed collects of Morning or Evening Prayer, or before the Eucharist, or separately. The 1928 BCP included a short Litany for Ordinations as an alternative to the Litany. The 1979 BCP titled the Litany “The Great Litany” (p. 148), distinguishing it from other litanies in the Prayer Book.

The Book of Common Prayer online has The Great Litany here. Chantblog has a Youtube video of The Great Litany chanted at St. Barnabas.

I will let you know how it goes. (Which reminds me I probably should run through it again before bed.)

Does you church do anything on the first Sunday of Lent to set the tone for the next 40 days?

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  One Response to “The Great Litany”

  1. Ooh, you get to lead it–how totally cool. We had the Great Litany this morning, chanted as the procession came in, and it was even inclusivized. Yee-ha.

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