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Kýrie, eléison in pop culture

posted Oct 16, 2011, 10:25 AM by Steven Vaughan
In the 60’s, the folk rock vocal group The Association produced a stirring protest song to the Vietnam war, Requiem For The Masses, that included the Kýrie, eléison.  The prayer is also referenced in Tom Lehrer’s satire of the Second Vatican Council, The Vatican Rag.

The 80’s pop rock band Mr. Mister came up with a single Kýrie invoking the chant.  British artist DJ Rap produced a 1992 single called Divine Rhythm which heavily sampled the intro and vocal from Mr. Mister’s single.  Mr. Mister’s was then covered by Christian pop group Acapella Vocal Band (AVB) in 1994 and became a hit on the Contemporary Christian Music chart.  And Christian singer/songwriter Mark Schultz remixed this single in his 2002 recording Song Cinema

In films, Michael Nyman includes it in The Libertine starring Johnny Depp.  Choir boys sing it in 1963’s Lord of the Flies, based on William Golding’s novel.  The psychedelic rock band The Electric Prunes’ version is in 1969’s road movie Easy Rider.  Trevor Jones used it in his 1995 horror film Hideaway.  And it’s heard in Disney’s 1996 The Hunchback of Notre Dame

On Broadway, it’s not mentioned in The Phantom of the Opera, yet in Gaston Leroux’s novel, Kýrie, eléison is the name of the wedding song the Phantom writes for Christine.  Yet in both the 1996 musical Rent and its 2004 film adaptation, characters quote it at the beginning of La Vie Boheme (along with the Dies Irae and the Mourner’s Kaddish) as part of a mock requiem in honor of “the death of Bohemia”.

Kýrie, eléison appears as the loading menu theme in several of the Castlevania video game series created by Konami for Game Boy Advance; including Dracula X: Rondo of Blood and Circle of the Moon

And the popular 2006 anime series Death Trap showcased a unique and atmospheric rendition of the chant utilizing full orchestral vocals.
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