Propers for the Office of the Dead
For use on the Commemoration of All Faithful Departed (All Souls’ Day), &
At other times, especially in times of mourning.
About this Service
This is a resource for those who say the Daily Office from the Book of Common Prayer. It may be used on All Souls’ Day annually. It is also used on the day of a funeral (especially by those who are unable to attend the funeral), at the “Month’s Mind” (one month following a death), or “Year’s Mind” (the anniversary of a death).
“Propers” here means the special Psalms, antiphons, Canticles, lessons from Scripture, and other prayers appropriate to the day. The antiphons are to be read before each Psalm or Canticle, and then following the Gloria Patri at the Psalm or Canticle’s conclusion. A non-Scriptural (but orthodox) reading is also provided for further reflection.
Two Collects are provided for this Office. One is a general collect (appointed for All Souls’ Day, Nov. 2, but appropriate for remembering those who have died throughout the year), the second is especially suitable when remembering a particular person who has died.
This service helps us express both our deep need to mourn the death of loved ones and our faith in God, who has in Christ tasted death, but also raised all who trust in him to new and eternal life.
If you struggle with grieving for a considerable time, please consider contacting your parish priest, your pastor, a grief counselor, or the author of this blog.
You are not alone, no matter how much you may feel so.
My soul is athirst for God, athirst for the living God; when shall I come to appear before the presence of God?
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God.
First Reading: Job 19:21-27a
Antiphon on First Canticle
The Lord will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory.
Canticle 11 Surge, illiminare
Second Reading: Romans 8:14-19, 31-39
From a sermon by Anastasius of Antioch, bishop.
To this end Christ died and rose to life that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living. But God is not God of the dead, but of the living. That is why the dead, now under the dominion of one who has risen to life, are no longer dead but alive. Therefore life has dominion over them and, just as Christ, having been raised from the dead, will never die again, so too they will live and never fear death again; When they have been thus raised from the dead and freed from decay, they shall never again see death, for they will share in Christ’s resurrection just as he himself shared in their death.
This is why Christ descended into the underworld, with its imperishable prison-bars: to shatter the doors of bronze and break the bars of iron and, from decay, to raise our life to himself by giving us freedom in place of servitude.
But if this plan does not yet appear to be perfectly realizedfor humans still die and bodies still decay in deaththis should not occasion any loss of faith. For, in receiving the first fruits, we have already received the pledge of all the blessings we have mentioned; with them we have reached the heights of heaven, and we have taken our place beside him who has raised us up with himself, as Paul says: In Christ God has raised us up with him, and has made us sit with him in the heavenly places.
And the fulfillment will be ours on the day predetermined by the Father, when we shall put off our childish ways and come to perfect humanity. For this is the decree of the Father of the ages: the gift, once given, is to be secure and no more to be rejected by a return to childish attitudes.
There is no need to recall that the Lord rose from the dead with a spiritual body, since Paul in speaking of our bodies bears witness that they are sown as animal bodies and raised as spiritual bodies: that is, they are transformed in accordance with the glorious transfiguration of Christ who goes before us as our leader.
The Apostle, affirming something he clearly knew, also said that this would happen to all mankind through Christ, who will change our lowly body to make it like his glorious body.
If this transformation is a change into a spiritual body and one, furthermore, like the glorious body of Christ, then Christ rose with a spiritual body, a body that was sown in dishonor, but the very body that was transformed in glory.
Having brought this body to the Father as the first-fruits of our nature, he will also bring the whole body to fulfillment. For he promised this when he said: I, when I am lifted up, will draw all men to myself.
(Oratio 5, de Resurrectione Christi, 6-7. 9: PG 89, 1358-1359. 1361-1362)
Antiphon on Benedictus
I am Resurrection and I am Life, says the lord. Whoever has faith in me shall have life, even though he die. And everyone who has life, and has committed himself to me in faith, shall not die for ever.
O God, the Maker and Redeemer of all believers: Grant to the faithful departed the unsearchable benefits of the passion of your Son; that on the day of his appearing they may be manifested as your children; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Almighty God, we remember before you today your faithful servant N.; and we pray that, having opened to him the gates of larger life, you will receive him more and more into your joyful service, that, with all who have faithfully served you in the past, he may share in the eternal victory of Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
[The remainder of the Collects may suitably be omitted on this day, the office concluding with the Grace and “+May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.”]
Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil, for you are with me.
I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
Since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. 1 Thess. 4:14
Collect as at Morning Prayer
I will walk in the presence of the Lord in the land of the living
The Lord shall preserve you from all evil; it is he that shall keep you safe.
John 14: 1-6
Antiphon on Magnificat
Everyone the Father gives to me will come to me; I will never turn away anyone who believes in me
Lamentations 3:22-26, 31-33
Antiphon on Nunc dimittis
My eyes have seen your salvation
First Collect as at Morning Prayer
The Collect for Fridays is appropriate at this service
The service concludes as at Morning Prayer
Note: Additional prayers and devotions may follow this service.