Burial of the Dead

The rite of Christian Burial is a liturgy marking the end of earthly life. It is an opportunity for family and friends to express their grief, to offer thanks to God for the earthly life now ended, to commend the soul of the departed person into God’s keeping, and to express our faith and hope in the resurrection.

Although the funeral home takes care of most of the arrangements for the funeral, it is the responsibility of the family, in consultation with the parish clergy, to make the arrangements for the funeral liturgy itself. The purpose of this pamphlet is to provide some guidance to the family in this regard.

At the family’s request, the parish clergy may invite clergy from another Anglican parish or clergy from another Christian tradition to participate in the funeral liturgy. However, the role of invited clergy in the service is assigned by the officiating priest or deacon.

Funeral liturgies are appropriately and preferably celebrated in a church but, for pastoral reasons, may be held in the chapel of a funeral home. Regardless of location, only those rites authorized by the Anglican Church of Canada (The Book of Alternative Services or The Book of Common Prayer) may be used.

The funeral liturgy should include a celebration of the Holy Eucharist (Requiem Eucharist) if at all possible. In cases where the body has been donated to science, or where a body has not been recovered, the family may request a memorial service without the remains being present.

A brief service of ‘Family Prayers’ is normally held at the funeral home shortly before the closing of the casket.

Scripture readings appropriate for a funeral will be provided to the family to choose from. The family will also need to designate individuals to read each of the chosen readings (other than the gospel passage which will be read by the officiating clergy).

Hymns sung during the funeral liturgy are to be chosen in consultation with the officiating clergy and parish organist.
Generally speaking, the following hymns are required: (1) an opening hymn; (2) a gradual hymn; (3) an offertory hymn (in the case of a Requiem Eucharist); (4) a commendation hymn; and (5) a graveside hymn. These hymns need to be selected in time to have the lyrics printed in the order of service.

St. Peter’s will put together the funeral service bulletin on behalf of the family. Therefore the family will need to communicate the information required to the parish office in a timely manner.

In most cases, the body will be present in the church for the funeral liturgy. It is an ancient custom to cover the casket with a funeral pall for the service in the church, signifying the equality of all before God. The funeral pall is also a reminder of our baptismal garment and a means of honouring the body.

At military funerals, a flag replaces the pall. A chalice veil may be used to cover cremated remains (the urn) as they are placed in the church.

Any services or rites of lodges and other organizations must take place before the funeral liturgy, either at the funeral home or in the church, or before the committal at the cemetery.

Arrangements for the digging of the grave, as well as payment of the cemetery, organist, clergy, and any other applicable fees are handled through the funeral home.

Please feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns you may have during this difficult time.