baby Kyrie's Birth reflections

Kyrie Elise Ann {in One Thousand Words}

November 17, 2014


Kyrie Elise Ann, 9lbs., 1oz., 21 inches, October 10, 10:30p.m.

Kyrie, eleison. Christe, eleison. Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy.


The words Kyrie, eleison, a transliteration of the Greek Κύριε, ἐλέησον, translated “Lord, have mercy” have been a part of church liturgy for centuries. We chose this theme as a whole for our daughter’s name if she was a girl, with Kyrie Elise Ann as normal-ish names, but sounding and looking much like Kyrie eleison.

But after she was born (we were momentarily surprised she was a girl), we debated on what name to call her: going back and forth between Elise, and the various pronunciations of Kyrie in liturgical song and prayer. (Traditionally, it’s pronounced one of two ways: Ký-ri-e, with three syllables, or Ký-rie, with two.) In the end, we decided to call her by her first name; but we cast aside church tradition to use our own pronunciation of Ky-reethinking that it may be a little easier to pronounce in a global society.


Kyrie’s name bears significance to us, both considering her name’s meaning as a whole, and looking at the individual names.



Elise means “God is satisfaction,” a meaning of beautiful significance to us. Recent years have led us to a deeper understanding of knowing Christ alone as our identity, as we have watched good things we once found identity in be removed from our lives.

We also have friends who have given this name to a child they lost (or to children born after a loss), and so in that part of her name, we also symbolize those for whom the name Elise is the paradoxical reminder of God as satisfaction and, simultaneously, of their own empty arms. Carrying on this reflection, it is in the name Elise that we also choose to remember other friends who have lost, miscarried, and grieved the losses of sons, daughters by other names, or simply children by no names (as we remember our own early, nameless miscarriage in January 2009). 



Ann, a form of the name Anna, means “gracious, full of grace and mercy,” fitting into the overall theme of Kyrie, eleison.

Ann also bears particular significance for our family: Ann is my mother’s middle name, and mine, too. So, three generations now share this middle name (also, why we chose this spelling).


Lord, have mercy!

{Written on August 20, 2014, as I began to think this baby’s gender was a girl.}

When I learned I was expecting again, I was hopeful and excited to have another son. But hidden beauty of pregnancy is the wait, the wait that not only takes time to weave a body together, but to weave together the thoughts and meditations of the mother who will soon bring forth new life. And in that wait, God often whispers life, growth, and change into our hearts and minds.

In those months of waiting, I watched, as the rest of the world has, many tragedies, epidemics, and rumors of war and oppression, rise and fall as social media and news networks could only spread the fear and panic.

And so, the cry of Kyrie eleison was grown even deeper in my heart and in Daniel’s. And as this ache grew within our hearts, Kyrie Elise Ann was formed in my womb.

I don’t know what kind of world awaits for Kyrie, and I don’t know what life holds for her on this earth. But as I stare at her moving within, as I watch the world weep, I groan out the words, “Lord, have mercy.”

Oh God, have mercy on us, mercy on Kyrie. Carry her when we cannot. Comfort her when we cannot longer protect her from the pain and suffering the breaks your heart as it crushes this world. Let her know Your love when ours and others cannot be seen.

Let her love mercy, to stand in the place of those who have no voice, to listen and learn from those who know pain different than her own. Teach her feet to step forward when her heart trembles in fear. Together, for however many years god grants us together, and when the day comes that one of us must part, Lord, have mercy.

Kyrie, eleison.


Our cry for mercy is bigger than for our little girl. A prayer for mercy is bigger than our growing family.

It is for my friends who buried their son and endured brain surgery in such a short span of time. It is for the friend who gave birth to children she never saw, for the daughter whose body is broken by long-term disease. It is for the friend whose heart was crushed in the name of religion.

It is for the little girl in Afghanistan who just lost her parents in an attack, for the mother in Ukraine who belly swells with new life while her mind is filled fear as tanks and militia grow closer to her home. It is for the generations of oppressed people whose suffering is unnoticed and dismissed again and again.

And our prayer for mercy is smaller, smaller than the public pains that often have at least their moment of spotlighted sympathy. It is prayer for mercy for the silent suffering, the pain that cannot be spoken.

Lord, have mercy, for the sometimes sparrow-like suffering we endure.

God does not scale our griefs and then mete out empathy and mercy only for those whose sorrows reach a certain measurable amount of suffering. And this merciful God is with us, standing with us in our own brokenness and as we feel crushed by the brokenness of the world around us.

Lord, have mercy on us in our sin, and do not abandon us. Console us in our sorrow and cleanse us from all wrong.

Kyrie eleison, Christe eleison.

He is the God who is with us when the suffering around the world leaves us breathless. When only the words, “Lord, have mercy!” can be uttered,

Kyrie, eleison.


Rutter’s Kyrie eleison Requiem: 

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  • Johanna Hanson November 23, 2014 at 10:22 am

    This was beautiful, Keren!