• WordNet 3.6
    • n Litany a prayer consisting of a series of invocations by the priest with responses from the congregation
    • n litany any long and tedious address or recital "the patient recited a litany of complaints","a litany of failures"
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Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
    • n Litany A solemn form of supplication in the public worship of various churches, in which the clergy and congregation join, the former leading and the latter responding in alternate sentences. It is usually of a penitential character. "Supplications . . . for the appeasing of God's wrath were of the Greek church termed litanies , and rogations of the Latin."
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Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
    • n litany Primarily, a solemn prayer of supplication; a public or general supplication to God, especially in processions.
    • n litany Specifically, in liturgics, an appointed form of responsive prayer, used as part of a service or separately. The most important varieties have been the following: Liturgical or missal litanies, found in theoldest liturgies or eucharistic offices, especially in the introductory division. Such are the synapte and ectene of the Oriental forms, consisting of a series of brief clauses, mostly beginning “In behalf of,” then naming the person or thing prayed for, and concluding “let us beseech the Lord,” with the response Kyrie eleïson. There were originally five such litanies in the liturgy: the initial diaconica or irenica (the Western Kyrie, pacificæ, and collect), the ectene after the Gospel, the litany after the offertory, that following the great intercession by the priest after consecration, and a closing litany after communion. In the West such litanies were in use for many centuries, but they have not been retained in the Roman Church, which has, however, versicles before the introit and the Kyrie after it.
    • n litany Hence Any earnest supplication or prayer.
    • n litany The same petitions with the following versicles or prayers and responses in the litany in the English Book of Common Prayer, allowed to be omitted at discretion in the American Book.
    • n litany The same petitions with the following versicles and responses in the Orders for Morning and Evening Prayer.
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Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
    • n Litany lit′a-ni a prayer of supplication, esp. in processions: an appointed form of responsive prayer in public worship in which the same thing is repeated several times at no long intervals
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Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
OE. letanie, OF. letanie, F. litanie, L. litania, Gr. litanei`a, fr. litaney`ein to pray, akin to li`tesqai li`ssesqai, to pray, lith` prayer
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
O. Fr.,—Low L. litania—Gr. litaneialitesthai, to pray.


In literature:

Despite the heat we had the Litany at half-past eleven, and evening-service at half-past six.
"The Last Voyage" by Lady (Annie Allnutt) Brassey
This extraordinary litany, however, was at length cut short by the arrival of Don Antonio de Leyva.
"Gomez Arias" by Joaquín Telesforo de Trueba y Cosío
This priest was the Church of England, and those fancies were driven into her imagination by her creed, her litanies, and her sermons.
"Ancient and Modern Celebrated Freethinkers" by Charles Bradlaugh, A. Collins, and J. Watts
Aunt Isabel was reciting the litanies in Latin.
"Friars and Filipinos" by Jose Rizal
Religion was always to her a life, not a litany.
"The Brownings" by Lilian Whiting
Pope, cardinals, archbishops, and bishops began the litany, and the sovereigns kneeled.
"The Life of Napoleon Bonaparte" by William Milligan Sloane
Would the prayers and litanies, the penances and the fasts, have tamed her wild blood?
"Home Life of Great Authors" by Hattie Tyng Griswold
Fly played that she was a princess, but she always stopped pretending when the Litany came.
"The Weans at Rowallan" by Kathleen Fitzpatrick
The clergy of St. Paul's then broke forth into a litany.
"Old and New London" by Walter Thornbury
The hint from the Litany, the fragment from the clouds, the pictures on the storied windows were sufficient.
"Harper's New Monthly Magazine, Vol. 2, No. 8, January, 1851" by Various

In poetry:

Thy litanies, sweet offices
Of love and gratitude;
Thy sacramental liturgies,
The joy of doing good.
"Our Master" by John Greenleaf Whittier
And childhood had its litanies
In every age and clime;
The earliest cradles of the race
Were rocked to poet's rhyme.
"Child-Songs" by John Greenleaf Whittier
Wide open stood the chapel door;
A sweet old music, swelling o'er
Low prayerful murmurs, issued thence,—
The Litanies of Providence!
"The Chapel of the Hermits" by John Greenleaf Whittier
Alas! alas! poor passionate Youth!
Why must we spend these lonely nights?
The poets hardly speak the truth,--
Despite their praiseful litany,
His season is not all delights
Nor every night an ecstasy!
"Protest:" by Laurence Hope
Here let us linger at will and delightsomely hearken
Music aeolian of wind in the boughs of pine,
Timbrel of falling waters, sounds all soft and sonorous,
Worshipful litanies sung at a bannered shrine.
"Among the Pines" by Lucy Maud Montgomery
The busy fingers fly, the eyes may see
Only the glancing needle which they hold,
But all my life it, blossoming inwardly,
And every breath is like a litany,
While through each labor, like a thread of gold,
Is woven the sweet consciousness of Thee.
"Laborare Est Orare" by Susan Coolidge

In news:

TV's transition to digital has had its own litany of twists and turns.
LOS ANGELES, Calif.—Police Chief Charlie Beck announced a litany of strict security measures today that will go into effect at Dodger Stadium during the next home game, saying there will be a zero-tolerance policy for misbehaving fans.
We've covered the litany of so-called "personhood" measures—conferring legal rights on fertilzed eggs—that have popped up around the country since Mississippi voters defeated just that sort of effort last November.
She sang a litany of hits and talked about growing up in the borough.
A litany of scandals in recent years have made the corruption of college sports constant front-page news.
OZ Magic the Web Site keeps updated figures of crocodile attacks, and lists a litany of sobering croc -on-human incidents.
The Texans' defense has forced a litany of mistakes by the Titans.
In the short time I have to address you tonight, there is no need for me to go over the litany of losses the state would suffer if the Kansas Arts Commission loses its funding .
Is Intel making the mistake of listening to the Silicon Valley litany that the microprocessor has run its course.
Heat squander litany of advantages in losing to Melo -less Knicks.
Martin is good enough to warrant a litany of nicknames , mind you.
STANTON — A felony conviction and jail sentence Thursday were just the latest in a litany of personal problems for a former Montcalm County paramedic .
The good thing about having a two-mom family is that you have someone to share the load, the love and the litany of requests that your offspring pelt you with everyday.
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver got the hook late Wednesday when his announcement of New York's 384 votes for Barack Obama turned into a litany of name-dropping politicians and shouting-out various regions of the state.
Along with patter of little feet comes a relentless litany of questions, often along unshockingly similar themes: When will Santa come again.

In science:

Not only was Eirini an invaluable resource for new physics ideas, but she would also patiently sit and listen to me rant on endlessly about a litany of topics.
Variational Principles in General Relativity
With the above algorithm laid out, we are now able, in theory, to tackle a litany of nonlinear partial differential equations.
Variational Principles in General Relativity
This is the meta-question: what are the important problems in the field, and why are they important? Computer vision currently can provide only a litany of relatively weak answers to this question.
Compression Rate Method for Empirical Science and Application to Computer Vision
Most people who recite this litany do not realize that we have at least one possible solution already in hand.
Theoretical Summary Lecture for EPS HEP99
New issues To this litany of unsolved problems in close binary evolution must now be added several which are unique to a dense stellar environment, or at any rate assume far greater significance there.
MODEST-1: Integrating Stellar Evolution and Stellar Dynamics