order of service
The notes below proceed in the usual order of each element of the funeral service, as determined by A Prayer Book for Australia 1995. References are made throughout to further resources available on this web site to assist those preparing the service. All funerals and memorial services at St. John's normally follow the format described below, although there is considerbale flexibility and the clergy are always willing to incorporate any special wishes of the deceased, and of those arranging the service.
For a template of the Order of Service in MS Word format go to the template page.
BEFORE THE SERVICE
Music is played as the congregation arrive and gather. Those planning the funeral may select the gathering music or the organist may play appropriate selections.
If desired, family members may place symbols on the casket as the service begins. These may be symbols of special relevance and importance to the deceased and / or Christian symbols such as a cross, a bible, a prayer book.
GATHERING & WELCOME
The clergy greet the congregation and welcome them, using these words and others, as appropriate.
The Lord be with you
And also with you.
‘I am the resurrection and the life,’ says the Lord, ‘Those who believe in me, even though they die, yet will they live.’ (John 11.25).
Let us pray, saying together
Loving God, you alone are the source of life.
May your life-giving Spirit flow through us,
and fill us with compassion, one for another.
In our sorrow give us the calm of your peace.
Kindle our hope, and let our grief give way to joy;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
A hymn may be sung.
For a collection of hymns, go to the music & hymns page.
One of the Psalms below, or another, is used. The Psalm may be said together by all, or read by one as a reading. The Psalm may also be sung (e.g. the hymn ‘The Lord’s my Shepherd’ is a version of the 23rd Psalm sung to the tune of Crimond). For a collection of further Psalms and Canticles go the readings page.
(i) Psalm 23 (traditional)
1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he
leadeth me beside the still waters.
3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths
of righteousness for his name's sake.
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the
shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with
me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence
of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil;
my cup runneth over.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the
days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the
Lord for ever.
(ii) from Psalm 90
Lord, you have been our refuge:
from one generation to another.
Before the mountains were brought forth,
or the earth and the world were born:
from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
You turn us back to dust:
and say ,‘Go back, you children of earth.’
For a thousand years in your sight
are as yesterday when it is past:
or like a watch in the night.
You cut them off like a dream:
and like the new grass of the morning.
In the morning it springs up and flourishes:
in the evening it is dried up and withered.
When you are angry, all our days pass away:
we bring our years to an end like a sigh.
The span of our life is seventy years,
or, if we have strength, perhaps eighty:
yet the pride of our toil is but trouble and sorrow,
for it passes away quickly and we are gone.
Who knows the power of your wrath?:
who knows your indignation like those who fear you?
Teach us rightly to number our days:
so that we may apply our hearts to wisdom.
(iii) Psalm 121
1 I lift up my eyes to the hills:
but where shall I find help?
2 My help comes from the Lord:
who has made heaven and earth.
3 He will not suffer your foot to stumble:
and he who watches over you will not sleep.
4 Be sure he who has charge of Israel:
will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The Lord himself is your keeper:
the Lord is your defence upon your right hand;
6 The sun shall not strike you by day:
nor shall the moon by night.
7 The Lord will defend you from all evil:
it is he who will guard your life.
8 The Lord will defend your going out and your coming in:
from this time forward for evermore.
(iv) Psalm 139.1-11
1 O Lord, you have searched me out and known me:
you know when I sit or when I stand,
you comprehend my thoughts long before.
2 You discern my path and the places where I rest:
you are acquainted with all my ways.
3 For there is not a word on my tongue:
but you, Lord, know it altogether.
4 You have encompassed me behind and before:
and have laid your hand upon me.
5 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me:
so high that I cannot endure it.
6 Where shall I go from your spirit:
or where shall I flee from your presence?
7 If I ascend into heaven you are there:
if I make my bed in the grave you are there also.
8 If I spread out my wings towards the morning:
or dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
9 Even there your hand shall lead me:
and your right hand shall hold me.
10 If I say ‘Surely the darkness will cover me:
and the night will enclose me’,
11 The darkness is no darkness with you,
but the night is as clear as the day:
the darkness and the light are both alike.
One or more present may speak in honour of the deceased. The eulogy (from two Greek words meaning literally 'good words') might be described as a personal reminiscence of the deceased or a personal tribute to the life of the deceased. There are no ‘rules’ or ‘formula’ as to how a eulogy ought to be delivered or by whom. Frequently the details of the life of the deceased are ‘rehearsed’ (i.e. birthplace and date, education, working life, family life, achievements). Anecdotes or stories are sometimes told. Memorable characteristics, personal traits, or significant events in the life of the deceased are often recounted. The total amount of time for all of the eulogies should be around 20 minutes.
There may be further readings at this point, from poems or passages other than the Bible. See the collection of poems and passages on the readings page.
REFLECTION (OR HYMN)
There may be a pause for reflection at this point; a piece of music may be performed by the organist or other musician/s; a recorded piece may be played; an anthem, aria or other musical item may be performed by a soloist or choir; or a hymn may be sung by all.
THE MINISTRY OF THE WORD
One or more readings from the Bible are read. A family member or friend may read the passage/s. Or the clergy may read. One or more of the passages below are especially suitable. For further selections see the collection ‘Readings from the Bible’ on the readings page.
(i) Ecclesiastes 3.1-8
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to throw away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.
(ii) John 14.1-6
Jesus said, ‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way to the place where I am going.’ Thomas said to him, ‘Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’
(iii) from 1 Corinthians ch. 15
But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have died. For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead has also come through a human being; for as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father, after he has destroyed every ruler and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. But someone will ask, ‘How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?’ Fool! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. And as for what you sow, you do not sow the body that is to be, but a bare seed, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body. So it is with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual body. When this perishable body puts on imperishability, and this mortal body puts on immortality, then the saying that is written will be fulfilled: ‘Death has been swallowed up in victory.’ ‘Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord, because you know that in the Lord your labour is not in vain.
(iv) Revelation 21.1-7
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘See, the home of God is among mortals.
He will dwell with them; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.’ And the one who was seated on the throne said, ‘See, I am making all things new.’ Also he said, ‘Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.’ Then he said to me, ‘It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life. Those who conquer will inherit these things, and I will be their God and they will be my children.
After the reading/s, the reader says
This is the Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.
THE HOMILY & PRAYERS
A brief address (the homily) is given by the clergy. The prayers are then led by the clergy.
The versicle and response used throughout the prayers is:
Lord, in your mercy.
Hear our prayer.
The prayers conclude with the Lord’s Prayer said by all.
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name,
thy kingdom come,
thy will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory
for ever and ever. Amen.
If it is the request of the deceased, or of those planning the service, Holy Communion (the Mass, Eucharist) may be included.
A hymn may be sung.
For a collection of hymns, go to the music & hymns page.
The prayer of farewell is said by the clergy.
The committal is always part of the Christian funeral service and is said by the cleric leading the service, facing the coffin, with the congregation standing.
The committal takes place either –
1. In the Church, at this point of the service
2. Before the service at the graveside or crematorium
3. After the service at the graveside or crematorium
The Prayer of Committal
Almighty God, our heavenly Father, you have given us a sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life. In your keeping are all who have departed in Christ. We here commit the body of our dear brother/sister N to be cremated / to the deep / to be buried in the ground, earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, who died, and was buried, and rose again for us, and who shall change our mortal body that it may be like his glorious body. Thanks be to God who gives us victory Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The service ends with the blessing, said by the clergy.
A piece of music is normally played as the congregation leave the church; this may be a recorded piece, or a voluntary played by the organist, or another.
An invitation to refreshments or to ‘the wake’ may be added.
Copyright details to be included in printed orders of service
Order of Service from A Prayer Book for Australia 1995. Broughton Books by E.J.Dwyer (Australia) Pty Ltd, Unit 13, Perry Park, 33 Maddox Street, Alexandria, NSW 2015. © 1995, The Anglican Church of Australia Trust Corporation. With the Liturgical Psalter, Inclusive Language Version English text © 1995 by David L. Frost, John A. Emerton, Andrew A. Macintosh. Hymns from Together in Song Australian Hymn Book II. © The Australian Hymn Book Pty Ltd 2006. Registered Office 14 Martin Place (Level 17) Sydney 2000.