The Confession of Sins is placed outside the formal worship. It is a way to prepare our hearts and minds for worship. So at the very beginning of our time together, the faithful recall their sins and place their trust in God's abiding mercy.
We begin with a Gathering Song. The pastor and other assisting ministers enter in procession and pause to reverence the altar before taking their places. The altar is a symbol of Christ at the heart of the assembly and so deserves this special reverence.
The pastor extends a greeting to the gathered people in words taken from Scripture (1 Thessalonians 5:28).
The penitential and preparatory actions of God’s people continue with the Kyrie. Kyrie Eleison, a Greek phrase meaning "Lord, have mercy," is repeated twice along with Christie Eleison, or “Christ, have mercy.” This litany recalls God's merciful actions throughout history.
Often the Gloria, or Hymn of Praise follows the Kyrie. The Gloria begins by echoing the proclamation of the angels at the birth of Christ: "Glory to God in the highest!" In this ancient hymn, the gathered assembly joins the heavenly choirs in offering praise and adoration to the Father and Jesus through the Holy Spirit.
You may have noticed that we do not always sing both the Kyrie and the Hymn of Praise. There is a pattern however. During penitential seasons like Advent and Lent, the Kyrie is sung alone. On Sundays where the liturgical color is green, those Sundays after Epiphany and Pentecost known as “Ordinary Time,” only the Hymn of Praise is sung. On festival Sundays and festival seasons like Easter and Christmas, both are sung.
The Opening Rites conclude with an opening prayer, called the Collect. The pastor invites the gathered assembly to pray and, after a brief silence, proclaims the Prayer of the Day in union with the whole assembly. The Collect gathers the prayers of all into one, reiterates the theme for the day, and disposes all to hear the Word of God in the context of the celebration.