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The Introductory Rites

Carry a Laser?

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KissThisGuy.com is a website that documents commonly misheard lyrics.

The site is named for a misheard line from Jimi Hendrix’ iconic song Purple Haze whose actual lyrics are excuse me while I kiss the sky. The lyrics in question can be heard at :49.

The site reports that Hendrix, aware of the misinterpretation, would, at times, purposefully sing the song with the misheard lyrics.

The mishearing or misinterpretation of a phrase as a result of near homophony is technically called mondegreen.

As KissThisGuy.com and countless karaoke bars across the country can attest, another famous misheard lyric is a product of a #1 hit song by the 1980s pop/rock band Mr. Mister, from their 1985 album Welcome to the Real World.

Many people, including the author of this post at the age of 10, misheard the chorus at 1:34 as:

Carry a laser, down the road that I must travel
Carry a laser, through the darkness of the night
Carry a laser, where I’m going, will you follow?
Carry a laser, on a highway in the light

The actual lyrics to the song Kyrie, written by George, Steven Park; Lang, John Ross; Page, Richard James are:

Kyrie eleison
Kyrie eleison
Kyrie

The wind blows hard against this mountain side
Across the sea into my soul
It reaches into where I cannot hide
Setting my feet upon the road

My heart is old, it holds my memories
My body burns a gem-like flame
Somewhere between the soul and soft machine
Is where I find myself again

Chorus:
Kyrie eleison, down the road that I must travel
Kyrie eleison, through the darkness of the night
Kyrie eleison, where I’m going, will you follow?
Kyrie eleison, on a highway in the light

When I was young I thought of growing old
Of what my life would mean to me
Would I have followed down my chosen road
Or only wished what I could be

Repeat Chorus

It is only in later life that I recognize and appreciate the song as using the Greek Kýrie, elision, or Lord, have Mercy. According to composer Richard Page, the entire song is, essentially, a prayer.

These words are used at various times in the Roman Catholic Mass and even more so in Eastern Rites. In the Ordinary form, Kýrie, eleison appears in Formula C of the Penitential Act:

“You were sent to heal the contrite of heart: Kyrie, eléison.”
All: “Kyrie, eléison.”
“You came to call sinners: Christe, eléison.”
All: “Christe, eléison.”
“You are seated at the right hand of the Father to intercede for us: Kyrie, eléison.”
All: “Kyrie, eléison.”

Kýrie, eleison” may also be used as a response of the people to intentions mentioned in the Universal Prayer (Prayer of the Faithful).

Even if Mass is celebrated in the vernacular, the Kýrie may be in Greek.

How about you? Have you ever misheard song lyrics? Has your perception of something at Mass changed in your adulthood? Share and let’s learn together.


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Dan Gonzalez is both author and designer of the MassExplained blog and MassExplained iPad app. Through fun games and colorful flash cards, Dan's new app, Catholic Word & Games, teaches Catholic vocabulary to children. His design work can be seen at AmpersandMiami.com. Visit AgnusGiftShop.com to browse his Catholic t-shirt line. Dan's reversion story can be read here.

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