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The Little Litany or Little Ektenia or Little Synapte is a brief ektenia (litany) which is recited at various times during the liturgical worship of the Byzantine Rite, as observed by the Eastern Orthodox Church and certain Eastern Catholic Churches.

The litany is called 'Little' to distinguish it from the Great Ektenia, which often precedes it in the service. The Little Litany is composed of only three petitions, chanted by the deacon (if there is no deacon, the priest says his parts). In many cases, there is a prayer which is said silently by the priest while the litany is being recited:

  • Deacon: Again and again in peace let us pray to the Lord.
  • Choir: Lord, have mercy.
  • Deacon: Help us, save us, have mercy on us, and keep us, O God, by Thy grace.
  • Choir: Lord, have mercy.
  • Deacon: Calling to remembrance our most holy, most pure, most blessed and glorious Lady, the Theotokos and ever-virgin Mary, with all the saints, let us commend ourselves, and one another, and all our life unto Christ our God.
  • Choir: To Thee, O Lord.[1]

The priest then says an ekphonesis (audible exclamation) which sums up the prayer, after which the choir chants, "Amen". The text of both the silent prayer and the ekphonesis will differ depending upon the point in the service at which the little ektenia occurs, but the words of the deacon and the choir remain the same.

There is also a poem called "A Little Litany" by G. K. Chesterton, which is unrelated to the Byzantine liturgical usage.

Little Litany for the Departed

At funerals and memorial services the Little Litany takes a special form, wherein the name of the departed in included:

  • Deacon: Again and again in peace let us pray to the Lord.
  • Choir: Lord, have mercy.
  • Deacon: Again we pray for the repose of the soul(s) of the servant(s) of God [name(s)], and that he (she)(they) may be forgiven every transgression, both voluntary and involuntary.
  • Choir: Lord, have mercy.
  • Deacon: That the Lord God will commit his (her)(their) soul(s) to where the righteous repose.
  • Choir: Lord, have mercy.
  • Deacon: The mercy of God, the kingdom of heaven, and the remission of his (her)(their) sins, let us ask of Christ the Immortal King and our God.
  • Choir: Grant this, O Lord.
  • Deacon: Let us pray to the Lord.
  • Choir: Lord, have mercy.
Meanwhile, the priest says this prayer silently to himself: O God of spirits and of all flesh, Who hast trampled down death, and overthrown the devil, and given life to Thy world: Do Thou Thyself, O Lord, give rest to the soul(s) of Thy departed servant(s) [name(s)], in a place of light, a place of green pasture, a place of repose, whence all sickness, sorrow and sighing are fled away. Pardon every sin, committed by him (her)(them) in word, deed, or thought, in that Thou art good and the Lover of mankind; for there is no man that liveth and sinneth not, for Thou alone art without sin, Thy righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and Thy word is truth.
  • Then, when the deacon and choir are finished with the litany, the priest says this Ekphonesis: For Thou art the resurrection, and the life, and the repose of Thy departed servant(s), [name(s)], O Christ our God, and unto Thee do we send up glory, together with Thine unoriginate Father, and Thy most holy and good and life-creating Spirit, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages.
  • Choir: Amen.[2]


  1. ^ Translation by Father Lawrence, The Divine Liturgy for Choir and Laity, Holy Trinity Monastery, Jordanville, NY
  2. ^ Translation by Father Lawrence, Book of Commemoration of the Living and the Dead, Holy Trinity Monastery, Jordanville, NY

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Source material

Up to date as of January 22, 2010
(Redirected to A Little Litany article)

From Wikisource

A Little Litany
by Gilbert Keith Chesterton

When God turned back eternity and was young,
Ancient of Days, grown little for your mirth
(As under the low arch the land is bright)
Peered through you, gate of heaven--and saw the earth.

Or shutting out his shining skies awhile
Built you about him for a house of gold
To see in pictured walls his storied world
Return upon him as a tale is told.

Or found his mirror there; the only glass
That would not break with that unbearable light
Till in a corner of the high dark house
God looked on God, as ghosts meet in the night.

Star of his morning; that unfallen star
In that strange starry overturn of space
When earth and sky changed places for an hour
And heaven looked upwards in a human face.

Or young on your strong knees and lifted up
Wisdom cried out, whose voice is in the street,
And more than twilight of twiformed cherubim
Made of his throne indeed a mercy-seat.

Or risen from play at your pale raiment's hem
God, grown adventurous from all time's repose,
Or your tall body climed the ivory tower
And kissed upon your mouth the mystic rose.


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