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Litany of the Saints

Background

There are a couple of theories about the origin of the Litany of the Saints, the oldest litany text currently used in the Roman Catholic Church. Basil of Caesarea mentioned something like it in the fourth century, although the traditional form is somewhat later: owing its text either to Mamertus of Vienne (ca. 511) or Gregory the Great (ca. 590). Its earliest usage seems to have been connected with a desire to avert calamities or to thank God for the cessation of hard times. It is prayed at the Easter Vigil and on the “rogation days” three days before the feast of the Ascension.

It is also used, naturally enough, after sundown on All Saints’ Day in preparation for All Souls’ Day, when the faithful departed are memorialized, and on All Souls’ Day itself. In that spirit, below I offer my eclectic version of this venerable text, including not only Catholic and Orthodox saints but Protestants as well.

The Litany of the Saints is known in a number of forms‚ some traditional (like this one and this one), some modern (for which see here [PDF], here, here, and here). I have drawn inspiration from all of these versions while trying to keep my text from becoming overly long. I have also replaced the traditional response, “Pray for us” with “Pray with us” in deference to Protestant concerns (which I share) that anyone but Christ be seen as a mediator between God and humanity.

Litany of the Saints

God, the Father of heaven, have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us.
God the Holy Spirit, have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, one God, have mercy on us.

Mary and Joseph, pray with us.
James, Joses, Simon, and Judas, pray with us.
Mary and Salome, pray with us.
Anna and Joachim, pray with us.
Elizabeth and Zechariah, pray with us.
John the Baptist, pray with us.

Mary Magdalene and the other women at the tomb, pray with us.
Peter and Paul, pray with us.
Andrew, James, Philip, and Bartholomew, pray with us.
Thomas and Simon the Zealot, pray with us.
James the Less and Jude, pray with us.
Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, pray with us.
Priscilla and Aquila, pray with us.
Andronicus and Junia, pray with us.
Lydia, Dorcas, and Phoebe, pray with us.
Barnabas, Silas, and Timothy, pray with us.
Mary and Martha of Bethany, pray with us.
The Samaritan Woman and the Man Born Blind, pray with us.
All disciples of Christ, pray with us.

Stephen the first martyr, pray with us.
Ignatius and Polycarp, pray with us.
Perpetua and Felicitas; Agnes and Lucy, pray with us.
Jan Hus and William Tyndale, pray with us.
Martyrs of Piedmont, pray with us.
Martyrs of China and Japan, pray with us.
Martyrs of Armenia, pray with us.
Thomas à Becket and Thomas More, pray with us.
Anne Askew and Elizabeth of Antwerp, pray with us.
Isaac Jogues and his companions, pray with us.
Makko Kakumba and his companions, pray with us.
Jim Eliot and his companions, pray with us.
All holy martyrs for Christ, pray with us.

Athansius, Basil, Gregory of Nazianzus, and John Chrysostom, pray with us.
Ambrose, Augustine, Jerome, and Gregory the Great, pray with us.
Cyril of Alexandria and Theodore the Interpreter, pray with us.
Catherine of Siena, Teresa de Ávila, and Thérèse of Lisieux, pray with us.
Nino, Patrick, Boniface, and Tikhon, pray with us.
Brigid of Kildare and Birgitta of Sweden, pray with us.
Martin Luther, Huldrych Zwingli, and John Calvin, pray with us.
Thomas Cranmer and Richard Hooker, pray with us.
Menno Simons and Michael Sattler, pray with us.
John Smyth and Thomas Helwys, pray with us.
John and Charles Wesley, pray with us.
Phoebe Palmer and William Seymour, pray with us.
All holy leaders in the church, pray with us.

Antony, Benedict, and Scholastica, pray with us.
Clare and Francis of Assisi, pray with us.
King Louis, King Henry, and King Casimir, pray with us.
Queen Jadwiga of Poland and Queen Elizabeth of Hungary, pray with us.
Francis Xavier and William Carey, pray with us.
Gladys Aylward, Mary Slessor, and Lottie Moon, pray with us.
Florence Nightingale and David Livingstone, pray with us.
Julian of Norwich and Evelyn Underhill, pray with us.
Giovanni da Palestrina and Johann Sebastian Bach, pray with us.
Isaac Watts and Fanny Crosby, pray with us.
Michelangelo and Rembrandt, pray with us.
Dorothy Day and Walter Rauschenbusch, pray with us.
All holy men and women, pray with us.

Lord, be merciful, Lord, save us.
From all harm, Lord, save us.
From every sin, Lord, save us.
From all temptations, Lord, save us.
From every evil inclination, Lord, save us.
From everlasting death, Lord, save us.
By your coming among us, Lord, save us.
By your baptism, fasting, and praying, Lord, save us.
By your suffering on the cross, Lord, save us.
By your rising to new life, Lord, save us.
By your gift of the Holy Spirit, Lord, save us.
By your coming again in glory, Lord, save us.

Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, grant us your peace.

Our Father, etc.

Amen.

(NB: This post provides links to almost all of the heroes of the faith mentioned in the litany, and many more besides.)

technorati tags: all saints day, litany, litany of the saints, liturgy, prayer


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