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Prayers in a chapel of rest

31 January 2014

Write, if you have any answers to the questions listed at the end of this section, or would like to add to the answers below.


Your answers

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 suggestions?

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
Magor, Monmouthshire

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 faithfulness.
Lamentations 3.22,23

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 Father.

(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 words:

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 words:

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]

Your questions

A writer on heating rural churches mentioned heated cushions. Who makes these, and what is the cost?  R. P.

Out of the Question, Church Times, 3rd floor, Invicta House, 108-114 Golden Lane, London EC1Y 0TG. questions@churchtimes.co.uk


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