Introit (p. 16)
This Latin word means “entrance,” and this is the formal beginning of the service. You can imagine worshipers, after confessing their sins and receiving absolution, entering the building speaking or singing the Introit (always a Psalm or part of a Psalm). The Introit focuses the congregation’s attention on a particular theme. It is like the beginning of a bright thread that runs throughout the entire service, surfacing in hymns, Scripture, prayers, and sermon. It begins and ends with a verse which is called the “antiphon.” Prior to the second antiphon, all Introits conclude with the “Gloria Patri”: “Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit; as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.” This ancient sentence points to God as the author of all Scripture, whether in the Old Testament or New, because He is “the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end” (Revelation 22:13). During the Gloria Patri, you may bow in reverence for the Divine Name.
Our practice at First Lutheran is to read half-verses of the Introit “responsively,” or back and forth, between the Pastor and the congregation.
Kyrie/Gloria in Excelsis (pp. 17-19)
Kyrie is the only Greek liturgical word in our service, and it simply means “O Lord.” The Kyrie’s three petitions (requests) for mercy are not another confession of sins. It is a humble prayer of mercy for our general human weaknesses and recognition of our complete dependence upon God (see Matthew 9:27; 15:22; Mark 10:47; Luke 17:13; 18:35-43). It may originally have been part of a longer prayer requesting mercy for all types of people and things. It can easily be identified as Trinitarian: Lord, God the Father; Christ, God the Son; Lord, God the Holy Spirit.
Gloria in Excelsis are three Latin words taken from the first words of this hymn of praise: “Glory be to God on high.” The Gloria is divided into three sections. First is a section praising God the Father, which begins with the angels’ song of praise from Luke 2:14. The second section is a joyful reminder that we are here because of Jesus’ Incarnation and His mercy upon us in taking away our sins. Finally, it confesses that we believe in the Trinity, and that all three persons are to be praised for our salvation: “Thou only, O Christ, with the Holy Ghost, art most high in the glory of God the Father. Amen.”