I recently went with my father to see my mother at the
chapel of rest. I asked the Vicar what an appropriate prayer would
be, and he said that he had never been asked this before. In the
end, we decided on the Lord's Prayer. Have your readers any other
This request indicates a widespread, if unspoken, need, to be
borne in mind by the clergy when they are arranging a funeral with
a bereaved family. Best practice would be to make available an
appropriate prayer card, to be given to the immediate mourners,
with an explanation that they might care to use the prayers when
visiting the chapel of rest.
The prayers in Common Worship: Pastoral Services
provide many ideas for this purpose, particularly the section
"Prayer when someone has just died" (page 234). Scriptural
sentences are followed by prayers that may be used not only by a
minister, but also by "a family member or friend". The third prayer
would be ideal: "Remember, O Lord, this your servant who has gone
before us with the sign of faith and now rests in the sleep of
peace. According to your promises, grant to him/her and
all who rest in Christ refreshment, light and peace; through the
same Christ our Lord. Amen."
An alternative would be a version of the commendatory prayer
"Proficiscere anima Christiana" ("Go forth Christian soul.
. ." ) and/or an adaptation of a prayer from the Orthodox funeral
service: "(Name) , may Christ give you rest in the land of
the living and open for you the gates of paradise: may He receive
you as a citizen of the Kingdom and grant you forgiveness of your
sins: for you are his friend."
(Canon) Terry Palmer
I was recently asked to say prayers in the same circumstances. I,
too, had never been asked this before, and so put together a
liturgy. The deceased had been a devout High Anglican. Her
daughter, who made the request, is not a Christian, but wanted
prayers, and the opportunity to place her mother's Bible and cross
in the coffin. I make no claims for the theology or liturgy, but
pastorally it seemed to help:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never
come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your
O Lord, your servant (Name) has come to the end of her
life. May your holy angels now receive her; may she come to
Paradise, far from pain, and struggle, and tears, may she find
peace and dwell with you for ever. Amen.
We pray with confidence as our Saviour has taught us: Our
(Name), God, the Father of mercies, has reconciled the
world to himself through the death and resurrection of his Son,
Jesus Christ, not counting our trespasses against us, but sending
his Holy Spirit to shed abroad his love among us. By the ministry
of reconciliation entrusted by Christ to his Church, receive his
pardon and peace to stand before him in his strength alone, this
day and evermore. Amen.
A Bible may be placed in the coffin, with these
Lord Jesus Christ, your living and imperishable word brings us
to new birth. Your eternal promises to us and to (Name)
are proclaimed in the Bible.
A cross may be placed in the coffin, with these
Lord Jesus Christ, for love of (Name) and each one of
us you bore our sins on the cross.
(The Revd) Brian Johnson
Cheadle Hulme, Cheadle
[Sources of some of this material were the Archbishops' Council
and the Revd Dr Martin Dudley. Editor]
A writer on heating rural churches mentioned heated
cushions. Who makes these, and what is the cost? R.
Out of the Question, Church Times, 3rd floor, Invicta
House, 108-114 Golden Lane, London EC1Y 0TG.