Translated from the Greek, “Lord, have mercy” Kyrie Eleison – \ˈkir-ē-ˌā-ə-ˈlā-(ə-) I remember listening to the song with this title as a kid over and over and over.
I remember not having a single friend with any idea what Richard Page, lead singer of Mr. Mister, was singing but we thought it was pretty close to “Kary Elise” or something of that ilk. Of course we all assumed they were hollering about some chick. Why wouldn’t we? We were a bunch of pups at a time when the closest we could get to a woman without starting to sweat was a telephone. …A land line by the way.
From the original score:
The wind blows hard against this mountainside
Across the sea into my soul
It reaches in to where I cannot hide
Setting my feet upon the road
My heart is old it holds my memories
This heart it burns a gem like flame
Somewhere between the soul and soft machine
Is where I find myself again
The above is pretty self explanatory, and you could extrapolate a pretty clear meaning to all that jazz, right? I’d wager, however, nearly none of you had any idea what Kyrie Eleison actually meant, even if you were one of the seven people in South West Iowa that even knew the title correctly. As a fun aside, zip through the chorus below sounding out the words “Kyrie Eleison” just like the lyrics dictate.
Kyrie Elison down the road that I must travel
Kyrie Elison through the darkness of the night
Kyrie Elison where I go you will follow
Kyrie Elison on a highway in the light
Catchy, right? Sure, now try it translated into English:
Lord, have mercy, down the road that I must travel
Lord, have mercy, through the darkness of the night
Lord, have mercy, where I go you will follow
Lord, have mercy, on a highway in the light
Different now isn’t it?
Now for the rest of the tune:
When I was young I dreamed of growing old
Of what my life would mean to me
Would I have traveled down my chosen road
Or only wish that I could be
The chorus then repeats of course.
Wowsers… What a tune. I’m not sure Mr. Mister was particularly spiritual and from what little research I performed it was simply a song for the band and they used it to show the ability to embrace of some sort of humility. Does a top 100 tune and music demonstrate humility? Well. Some would argue yes, and some no. Honestly, I don’t care. It’s a fun and catchy song and I’ve always enjoyed it. Now that I finally have some understanding of what the heck I’ve been humming for years it is better than ever. You’ll be surprised at what you may find if you look.
The basis for Kyrie Eleison is essentially rooted in 1 Chronicles 16:34: O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever. I like the King James version in this case…
Be salt and light my friends, and enjoy good music, especially when rooted in the Lord. Here’s a popular video and the ‘official’ video below.