Piety Hill Musings

The ramblings of the 52 year old Rector of St. John's Episcopal Church of Detroit. Piety Hill refers to the old name for our neighborhood. The neighborhood has changed a great deal in the over 150 years we have been on this corner (but not our traditional biblical theology) and it is now known for the neighboring theatres, the professional baseball and football stadiums and new hockey/basketball arena.

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Location: Detroit, Michigan, United States

Friday, August 23, 2013

The Burial of the Dead - Rector's Rambling for September 8, 2013

Having looked at the Pastoral Offices the last seven weeks (including Baptism, Offices of Instruction, Order of Confirmation, Matrimony, Thanksgiving for Child-birth, Visitation and Communion of the Sick), we now finish this section with the Order for the Burial of the Dead. (p. 324)
The 1928 Book of Common Prayer presupposes a more protestant model for the burial of the dead, based on it being an “Office” like Morning and Evening Prayer.  The Office beings with the well known sentences, “I am the resurrection and the life, saith the Lord….”.  And like a Daily Office, it then has a series of Psalms and Readings assigned, followed by prayers.  Add a few hymns and a sermon and you have a complete burial service.  There is also then a ‘lesser office’ to be used “At the Grave” (p. 332)   Both Offices however could be used in a Church, Funeral Home, or Cemetery.  There is also a specific form for the Burial of a Child on page 340.
The more ancient custom for a burial is The Requiem Mass.  This is a celebration of the Holy Communion with the special intention for the dearly departed.  The service begins with the phrase “Rest eternal grant unto them O Lord, and let light perpetual shine upon them”.  By the publication of the 1928 Book of Common Prayer there was a reclaiming of this more ancient way by many in the Episcopal Church.  A Collect and Lessons are appointed for use at a Communion Service “At the Burial of The Dead” on page 268. 
At St. John’s we make both options available for use at the Burial of the Dead.  What is important is that you discuss which service you would like NOW, while you are living, and put in writing that desire as well as hymn choices so that your family, in their grief, will have one less thing to have to worry about or plan. We will be happy to keep a copy of those written desires on file in the parish office.