Since this Sunday is the first Sunday in Lent, we will begin the service with the Great Litany. It is called the “Great Litany” to distinguish it from other litanies in the Book of Common Prayer, such as the Litany of Penitence that we said on Ash Wednesday.
The Great Litany was the first rite to be published in English. In 1544, King Henry VIII was at war with France and Scotland. The Litany was to be used as a special supplication prayed by churches throughout England. It was composed by Thomas Cranmer who used ancient and contemporary sources. (You can read the original form of the Litany here.)
Because of its penitential tone, the Litany is especially appropriate during Lent. But it is more than just a penitential prayer. Through it, we pray for all sorts and conditions of people. Prayer is an important part of Lent. We pray for ourselves. We pray for others. We pray for the world. We pray prayers of repentance and prayers for healing for the wounds of sin. The Great Litany is one of the ways we do this. Consider what you might need prayers for or those close to you might need prayers for and come this Sunday to pray for them as we pray the Great Litany together.