Religion Past and Present

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I. Liturgy – II. Music

I. Liturgy

Litanies (from λετανεία/letaneía, “public supplication”) are common among many worship traditions. A singer performs invocations or prayer request, to which the congregation each time responds with an identical request (e.g. Kyrie). Litanic patterns appear in the Old Testament (e.g. Ps. 136). Extra-biblical Jewish litanies include the selihot, based on Exod 34:6f., originally composed for days of fasting. While evidence for insistent prayer exists as early as Polycarp (Pol. 12.3), clea…

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Foley, Edward and Bretschneider, Wolfgang, “Litany”, in: Religion Past and Present. Consulted online on 10 December 2023 <>
First published online: 2011
First print edition: ISBN: 9789004146662, 2006-2013

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