Guide to Literary Terms

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What is a litany?

A litany is a prayer with a repetitive, call-and-response structure.

Litany

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Last Updated on February 25, 2021, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 90

Litany - a form of prayer consisting of a series of invocations with identical responses in succession. It is also the term for the supplications in The Book of Common Prayer of the Church of England. Often, it is used for a recitation that is ceremonial and repetitive. It is common to hear the term used to describe any repetitive, monotonous statement or account.

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The term comes from the Greek litaneia derived from litaneuein, meaning “to pray.”

The form originated at Antioch in the Fourth Century.

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