In the early church, in the east, the Greek supplication Kyrie eleison (“Lord, have mercy”) was the common response to intercessory biddings addressed to the people. It is now used in the eucharist at the entrance rite and the general intercessions. 1) In the Episcopal Church, Kyrie eleison may be sung or said in place of the Gloria in excelsis in the entrance rite in seasons other than Christmas and Easter in Rite 2 services. It may be sung or said in place of or in addition to the Gloria in excelsis in Rite 1 services. Some parishes use it during the penitential season of Lent. Kyrie eleison alternates with Christe eleison (“Christ have mercy”). The chant may be sung or said threefold, sixfold, or ninefold, in Greek or in English (BCP, p. 406). 2) Kyrie eleison is the response in intercessory litanies such as Forms I and V of the prayers of the people, which are based on early eastern prayers (BCP, pp. 383, 389).
Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from “An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians,” Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.