Thursday, 29 November 2012

Liturgy (full-time) 9.2: Seminar: homiletics and homiletics in history

The sermon (Cartoon by Dave Walker)

Patrick Comerford

EM8824: Liturgy, Worship and Spirituality

Year II, 14:00 to 16:00, Thursdays, Hartin Room:

29 November 2012

This afternoon:

9.1:
Rites of passage, e.g., Marriages, Funerals.

9.2: Seminar: homiletics and homiletics in history: readings may include Saint Augustine, Thomas Cranmer, Lancelot Andrewes, John Wesley and Martin Luther King.

Sermon Illustrations (Cartoon by Dave Walker)

Liturgy 9.2: Seminar: homiletics and homiletics in history: readings may include Saint Augustine, Thomas Cranmer, Lancelot Andrewes, John Wesley and Martin Luther King.

1, Saint Augustine:

Saint Augustine of Hippo

Saint Augustine of Hippo: ‘John is the Voice, Jesus is the Word’

Saint Augustine is one of the most important of the Early Church Fathers and is revered as a Doctor of the Church. Many of us are familiar with his famous prayer: “Lord, make me chaste, but not yet.” But one of my favourite quotes from him is: “The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.”

Augustine was Bishop of Hippo Regius, present-day Annaba in Algeria, in the Roman province of Africa in the mid-fourth century. His writings influenced the development of Western Christianity, and his thoughts profoundly influenced the mediaeval worldview.

The American writer Thomas Cahill considers Augustine the first mediaeval man and the last classical man. Many Protestants, especially Calvinists, consider him to be one of the theological fathers of the Reformation because of his teachings on salvation and divine grace.

This excerpt from a sermon by Saint Augustine (Sermo 293, 3: PL 1328-1329) is used in the Roman Office of Readings for the Third Sunday in Advent, known as Gaudete or Rejoice Sunday. It presents a wonderful contrast between the role of Saint John the Baptist, the voice crying out in the wilderness, and that of his cousin, Jesus, the Word of God made flesh. The humility of John, whose role was to prepare the way of the Lord, is highlighted. His joy was complete to see Jesus increase and himself decrease in importance.

2, Thomas Cranmer
Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury

Archbishop Thomas Cranmer: Sermon on the Knowledge of Scripture Part 2 (The Second Part of the Sermon of the Exhortation to Holy Scripture Against Fear and Excuses)

Archbishop Thomas Cranmer (1489-1556), the ‘Father of the Prayer Book,’ was a leader of the English Reformation and Archbishop of Canterbury (1533-1555) during the reigns of Henry VIII, Edward VI and (briefly) Mary I. He built a favourable case for Henry VIII’s divorce and supported the principle of royal supremacy.

As Archbishop of Canterbury, he was responsible for establishing the first doctrinal and liturgical structures of the Church of England. He did not make many radical changes in the Church, but succeeded in publishing the first officially authorised vernacular service, the Exhortation and Litany.

During the reign of Edward VI, Cranmer wrote and compiled the first two editions of The Book of Common Prayer, a complete liturgy for the Church of England. With the help of Continental reformers, he developed new doctrinal standards in areas such as the Eucharist.

With the accession of Mary I to the throne, Cranmer was tried for treason and heresy, and he was executed in Oxford in 1556. On the day of his execution, he dramatically withdrew his recantations. As the flames drew around him, he placed his right hand into the heart of the fire and his dying words were, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit ... I see the heavens open and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.”

His legacy lives on through The Book of Common Prayer – although it is difficult to ascertain how much of the Prayer Book is actually Cranmer’s personal composition – and through the 39 Articles, which are part of his legacy although not his composition. But we can agree that his chief concern was to design corporate worship to encourage a lively faith.

This excerpt from Thomas Cranmer’s preface to the Great Bible of 1539 is an apt introduction to part two of his sermon:

... the Apostles and prophets wrote their books so that their special intent and purpose might be understood and perceived of every reader, which was nothing but the edification of amendment of the life of them that read or hear it ... Wherefore I would advise you all that come to the reading or hearing of this book, which is the word of God, the most precious jewel and most holy relic that remaineth upon earth; that ye bring with you the fear of God, and that ye do it with all due reverence, and use your knowledge thereof, not to vain glory of frivolous disputation, but to the honour of God, increase of virtue, and edification both of yourselves and other.

3, Lancelot Andrewes

Lancelot Andrewes ... TS Eliot describes him as ‘the first great preacher of the English Catholic Church’

Lancelot Andrewes (1555-1626): Gunpowder Plot Sermon, 1606

Lancelot Andrewes held senior positions in the Church of England in the reigns of Elizabeth I and James I, and after two decades at Cambridge he was successively Bishop of Chichester, Ely and Winchester, and chaired the committee that had oversight of the translation of the King James Version or Authorised Version of the Bible.

TS Eliot, in his essay, For Lancelot Andrewes: an Essay on Style and Order (1928), argues that Andrewes’s sermons “rank with the finest English prose of their time, of any time.” Eliot spoke of his indebtedness to the bishop’s writings: he is “the first great preacher of the English Catholic Church,” and he had “the voice of a man who had a formed visible church behind him, who spoke with the old authority and the new culture.”

For Eliot, “The intellectual achievement and the prose style of Hooker and Andrewes came to complete the structure of the English Church as the philosophy of the thirteenth century crowns the Catholic Church … the achievement of Hooker and Andrewes was to make the English Church more worthy of intellectual assent. No religion can survive the judgment of history unless the best minds of its time have collaborated in its construction; if the Church of Elizabeth is worthy of the age of Shakespeare and Jonson, that is because of the work of Hooker and Andrewes.

“The writings of both Hooker and Andrewes illustrate that determination to stick to essentials, that awareness of the needs of the time, the desire for clarity and precision on matters of importance, and the indifference to matters indifferent, which was the general policy of Elizabeth … Andrewes is the first great preacher of the English Catholic Church.”

4, John Wesley

John Wesley, by William Hamilton

John Wesley, Sermon 101: The Duty Of Constant Communion, from The Sermons of John Wesley (Thomas Jackson, editor, 1872 ed).

The Revd John Wesley (1703-1791) was an Anglican priest and theologian who is seen – alongside his brother Charles Wesley – as the founder of Methodism.

His sermons are a key to understanding Wesley, for Methodism began when he took to open-air preaching, albeit reluctantly at first. His great contribution was to appoint itinerant preachers who travelled widely to preach as well as to evangelise and to care for people.

Wesley was a fluent, powerful and effective preacher. He usually preached spontaneously and briefly, though occasionally at great length. His written sermons are characterised by spiritual earnestness and simplicity. They are doctrinal but not dogmatic. Both his Notes on the New Testament (1755) and his Sermons are doctrinal standards for Methodists.

John Wesley says in a preface to the sermon we are looking at this afternoon:

The following discourse was written above five-and-fifty years ago, for the use of my pupils at Oxford. I have added very little, but retrenched much; as I then used more words than I do now. But, I thank God, I have not yet seen cause to alter my sentiments in any point which is therein delivered. 1788 J.W. “Do this in remembrance of me.” Luke 22: 19.

5, Martin Luther King

The Revd Dr Martin Luther King … ‘How Long? Not Long!’

Martin Luther King: Our God Is Marching On! (25 March 1965. Montgomery, Alabama)

The Revd Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) was an American Baptist minister, Nobel Peace laureate and prominent Afro-American human rights campaigner. He is best known for his non-violent direct action and his speeches in the civil rights movement in the “Deep South” in the 1950s and the 1960s.

Many of his speeches at marches and demonstrations have the quality and tenor of sermons, even though they were often delivered outside the context of church and liturgy. His “I Have a Dream” speech at the climax of the March on Washington in 1963 has made him as one of the greatest orators in American history.

He was assassinated on 4 April 1968. This afternoon’s sermon or speech – with its repetition of the echoing question-and-answer sayings “How Long? Not Long!” – was delivered on 25 March 1965 on the steps of the State Capitol in Montgomery, Alabama, at the end of the Selma to Montgomery march that began with the violent attacks of ‘Bloody Sunday’ (7 March 1965).

Next:

10.1: Theology of the whole people of God, the theology and rites of ordination; gender and ministry.

10.2: Seminar: Spirituality of ministry; readings on the minister as person, private, public and holy:

Christopher Cocksworth and Rosalind Br own, Being a priest today (Norwich: Canterbury Press, 2nd ed, 2006), Chapter 7 (pp 129-153).

Malcolm Grundy, What they don’t teach you at theological college (Norwich: Canterbury Press, 2003), Chapter 16 (pp 162-172), ‘Spirituality and a Rule of Life.’

Sister Barbara June (Kirby) SLG, ‘Simple Gifts: Priesthood in a Praying Community,’ (Chapter 5), pp 62-71 in George Guiver et al, Priests in a People’s Church (London: SPCK, 2001).

Michael Ramsey, The Christian Priest Today (London: SPCK, new ed., 1992), Chapter 9, ‘The Ordination Gospel’ (pp 61-67).

Canon Patrick Comerford is Lecturer in Anglicanism and Liturgy, the Church of Ireland Theological Institute. These biographical notes were prepared as introductory notes for a seminar on 29 November 2012 as part of the Module EM8824: Liturgy, Worship and Spirituality on the MTh course.

Liturgy (full-time) 9.1: Rites of passage, including Marriages, Funerals

‘Hatch, Match and Dispatch?’ … setting the tone for rites of passage includes many liturgical considerations, including the use of colour and space (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

EM8824: Liturgy, Worship and Spirituality

Year II, 14:00 to 16:00, Thursdays, Hartin Room:

29 November 2012

This afternoon:

9.1:
Rites of passage, e.g., Marriages, Funerals.

9.2: Seminar: homiletics and homiletics in history: readings may include Saint Augustine, Thomas Cranmer, Lancelot Andrewes, John Wesley and Martin Luther King.

Liturgy 9.1: Rites of passage, e.g., Baptisms, Marriages, Funerals

‘Hatch, Match and Dispatch?’

The three rites of Baptism, Marriage and Funeral are sometimes referred to in a jocular way by clergy as the rites of “Hatch, Match and Dispatch.”

But, at times, I think this is unfair to the people involved in these rites. These are crisis moments, the most sacred moments in life, and they note merely rites of passage, when people publicly declare the most important stages of life in front of God and in front of the community they most value … even when they are not regular churchgoers.

They are not moments for evangelisation, but they are sacred moments, moments of grace, moments of joy and sorrow, moments that will most surely test your ministry.

People will forgive you a badly-prepared or badly delivered Sermon every now and then; they may not notice or may soon forget when you make what you regard as major mistake in my eyes on an occasional Sunday; and they may forget who baptised their child, forget to thank you for your part at their wedding or at the burial of one of their parents … if all goes well.

But they will never, ever forget, and perhaps never forgive you if you get it wrong at a baptism, wedding or funeral.

For that reason alone, but also because we all realise how sacred these moments are, most new curates, and even most new rectors fret for the first years when it comes to Baptisms, Marriages and Funerals.

We fret so much that we often concentrate or energies on the minute details, and forget that it all takes part within the context of the worship and the liturgy of the Church, and that we ought not be the centre of attention. We are the facilitators, the enablers, the “liturgical midwives,” but we should never be the centre of attention, or do anything that makes us so.

1, Baptism:


In recent weeks, we have looked at the origins and early understandings of Baptism. But do you feel liturgically literate when it comes to taking part in a baptism?

Like our other services, the Church of Ireland has revised the service of Baptism in recent years. And these revisions, like all others, have been informed by the insights of the modern liturgical movement.

For example, as long ago as 1968, the Anglican bishops agreed at the Lambeth Conference that “confirmation is not a rite of admission to Communion.”

The International Anglican Liturgical Consultation said as long ago as 1985 in Boston that “since baptism is the sacramental sign of full incorporation into the church, all baptised persons [should] be admitted to communion …”

Some of the understandings incorporated into the writing of Holy Baptism Two (The Book of Common Prayer, the Church of Ireland, 2004) include:

● there should be one baptism for all ages;
● Baptism should be the main service when it takes place, and not tagged on as an added extra, a sideshow or an appendix to the main service;
● Baptism comes as a response to the Word of God.

What do you think is the theological underpinning of these insights?

The Baptismal font in Saint Edan’s Cathedral, Ferns, Co Wexford (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

These insights are reflected in the outline of the Baptismal Rite:

1, The presentation (p. 371):

Candidates are presented;
Questions are put to Parents and Godparents of those who cannot answer for themselves;

2, The Decision (p. 372):

(Testimony);
Questions to candidates’ sponsors; questions to the congregation;
The signing with the Cross (here or after the Baptism);
(Hymn);

3, The Baptism (p. 373):

Water poured into the font;
The Thanksgiving Prayer over the Water,
including prayer of blessing and sanctification (see pp 363-364);
Questions about the Christian faith to the candidate or sponsors;
Interrogatory Apostles’ Creed;
The Baptism (dipping or pouring, but not sprinkling, see p. 174; this does not exclude immersion);
The signing of the Cross (if this has not already taken place);
Welcome;
The Peace.

The Baptismal Font in Lichfield Cathedral earlier this month (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2012)

Some observations and questions:

Note how the Baptismal Rite follows the sermon (see p. 376).
Who should be sponsors?
What are the responsibilities of godparents?
What about “private baptisms”?
What about family requests for a different time?

Be aware too of the need to make connection between Baptism and the other rites that are part of Christian Initiation (see p. 346 ff), including Receiving into the Congregation (p. 377 ff), Confirmation (p. 382 ff), the Renewal of Baptismal Vows (p. 398 ff) and Thanksgiving after the Birth of a Child (p. 402 ff).

2, Marriage:

A wedding in Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge … how is the theology of matrimony reflected in the marriage rites? (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

The traditional Anglican understanding of matrimony is that Holy Matrimony is the blessing of a union between a man and woman, acknowledging the presence and grace of God in the life of the couple. The form is manifested as the vows.

Despite popular belief and imagination, the blessing and exchanging of the rings is only customary, and neither is necessary for the rite of matrimony to be valid.

In marriage, the husband and wife seek God’s blessing, and through the mediation of the priest, the prayer is answered.

The couple are thus generally regarded as the ministers of the sacrament or the rite through their voluntary exchange of vows. And for this reason they should face each other during the marriage, and not the officiating minister.

However, in the traditional Anglican understanding, the sacrament or rite must be celebrated before an ordained priest (or, in exceptional circumstances, a deacon), who witnesses and mediates the prayers. The priest or deacon has been described by Michael Perham as the “chief witness” or “the master of ceremonies,” and only takes over, so to speak, when the couple are married, in order to pronounce God’s blessing on the couple.

For those who count seven sacraments, then matrimony was the last of the seven to be added to the list.

Its origins can be found in the civil necessity that arose in the Middle Ages to regularise intimate relationships and to legitimise children.

As Bishop Harold Miller points out, the Church of Ireland has always recognised the total validity of civil marriage services, as marriage is essentially an ordering of society. But it is also a “holy mystery” and a sign of the “mystical union … betwixt Christ and his Church...” (The Book of Common Prayer (1960), p. 266; The Book of Common Prayer (2004), p. 406).

In these islands, the “Form of Solemnisation of Matrimony” remained almost entirely unchanged in these islands from 1662 until the 1980s.

The Wedding at Cana ... a modern icon

The introduction to the marriage service in that older form says quite quaintly that marriage is “for the increase of mankind … and for the due ordering of families and households; … for the hallowing of the union betwixt man and woman, and for the avoidance of sin; [and] … for the mutual society, help and comfort, that the one ought to have for the other, both in prosperity and adversity.” (The Book of Common Prayer (1960), p. 266; The Book of Common Prayer (2004), p. 406).

However, things changed with the introduction of the Alternative Service Book (Church of England, 1980, pp 283-304). However, the Alternative Prayer Book (Church of Ireland, 1984) did not include a revised marriage service, and this only came about with the publication of the “White Booklet” in 1987 and the Alternative Occasional Services in 1993.

We now teach that marriage is about love, comfort, “living together in plenty and in need, in sorrow and joy,” that it is about knowing each other in love “with delight and tenderness,” about a bodily union that strengthens the union of hearts and lives,” and – only later its – about “the children they may have” (The Book of Common Prayer 2004, p. 417). So the flesh, love, comfort, delight, tenderness, bodily union, are all stressed before we even mention children, and there is no mention in this second form (pp 416-430) of the “increase of mankind,” the “due ordering of families and households” or the “avoidance of sin.”

A little more adult and mature an approach, I should suggest; certainly a reflection of how society has changed, and a realisation that not every couple can have or choose to have children.

But the wording of the services continue to agree that the Church teaches that marriage should be monogamous, life-long and between one man and one woman.

In the section on Marriage Services (pp 405-438), The Book of Common Prayer (Church of Ireland, 2004) includes two marriage services, a traditional rite from The Book of Common Prayer 1926 (see The Book of Common Prayer (2004), pp 406-413), with an option for “Holy Communion at the Time of Marriage” (pp 414-415), and a revised, contemporary rite (pp 416-427), with extensive notes on many of the legal requirements (see p. 413, and pp 428-430). In addition, there is “A Form of Prayer and Dedication after a Civil Marriage” (pp 431-438), again with a number of notes and guidelines on how this service is to be used.

There are legal requirements that are going to concern you, and they vary between jurisdictions and may change even before you are priested. There are also canonical requirements that you need to be aware of too.

For example, when it comes to a couple where one or both have been previously married and divorced, the clergy involved must, under the provisions of legislation passed by General Synod in 1996, apply to the diocesan bishop first of all for permission, and listen carefully to the advice the bishop gives in reply.

If the ceremony goes ahead, the couple are required to go through a service of preparation, which has been devised by the Liturgical Advisory Committee but is not in The Book of Common Prayer (2004), although it is included by Bishop Miller in The Desire of our Soul (see pp 250-253).

From a pastoral point of view you will also need to learn how to prepare a couple properly and appropriately for both the wedding ceremony itself and for future married life.

All these you will learn as you go on. But of course they also impinge on how you behave at a wedding itself.

And it is important to know why you are doing something, so that by understanding what you are doing you are doing it properly. If the couple are not married according to rites and customs of the Church of Ireland, there may be serious consequences for your actions.

But this afternoon we are looking at the marriage rite itself, from the point of how you prepare yourself for it, what you do within your understanding of the liturgy and common prayer of the Church, and how you relate in that to the life of the Church and to those for whom you provide this office – and they are not just the couple being married!

The outline of the service is:

1, The Entry (p 416 ff):

(Greeting of the Bridal or Marriage Party);
(Hymn or Music);
Greeting;
The Introduction: Introduction;
The Collect.

2, Proclaiming and Receiving the Word (p. 418):

Reading(s);
Sermon;

3, The Marriage (p. 419 ff):

Questions to the congregation;
Words to the couple;
The Consent;
The Vows;
Giving and receiving of a ring;
The Declaration, including the joining of hands;
The Blessing of the Couple;
Affirmation by the People;
The Acclamations;
(The Registration of the Marriage);
(A Psalm or Hymn).

4, The Prayers (p. 423 ff):

Intercessions;
(Silence);
(Prayer by the couple);
The Peace;
(Hymn);
The Lord’s Prayer;
(The Grace or the Blessing).

Exchanging the στέφανα or wedding crowns as the Gospel story of the Wedding at Cana is read … not part of the Church of Ireland tradition

What is missing?

Is there a place for giving away the bride? Or for saying: “You may now kiss the bride”?

Who chooses the readings and the hymns?

How suitable are the Wedding March (Mendelssohn) – written for Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream?

How suitable is the Bridal Chorus (Wagner) – sung after the wedding in the opera Lohengrin by the women of the wedding party as they accompany the heroine Elsa to the bridal chamber?

Ave Maria (Bach and Gounod or Schubert)?

Which customs and traditions do you accept?

Separate sides of the church for the families of the bride and groom?

The bride being walked up the nave (aisle) by her father?

The bride’s white dress?

The “giving away”?

Signing the register in the vestry?

When are these meaningful?

When do they perpetuate the myth that the church sanctions patriarchy?

When do they become “liturgical” and sideline the liturgy itself?

What about the way the pledge to “obey” has been dropped?

Who should lead the prayers and intercessions?

Would you be embarrassed by the prayer giving thanks for the gift of sexual love (see p. 426)?

Michael Perham says that at a marriage, more than at one other service, it is right to let the participants have a say in the form that it takes, “and the wise minister will not make too many rules about what will or will not be allowed to be said, sung, or done.”

Should there be a sermon (see p. 418)?

The sermon gives the minister the opportunity to say something about marriage and about the Gospel in a less formal way than the words of the liturgy provide.

But we need to take care not to repeat what has already been said, and not to end up repeating what has been said at every previous wedding we have been involved in.

When and where do you allow photographs?

Should there be a celebration of Holy Communion (see p. 428, note 5)?

Do you accept an invitation to the reception and to say grace?

Some dioceses, particularly in the US Episcopal Churches, allow for the blessing of same-gender marriages. How do you respond to this?

Services of Prayer and Dedication:

In many parts of the Anglican Communion, there is a provision to bless civil marriages. This rests on the understanding that a couple cannot be married twice.

Some Anglican provinces allow the marriage of divorced people, others do not, still others require the permission of the diocesan bishop.

We often think of Services of Prayer and Dedication as option for people who have already been married and divorced, and for whom a church wedding may pose problems or difficulties.

But there are other reasons for choosing this option:

A couple who have been married in a civil ceremony, which is a legal requirement in many other countries, may then want a Church occasion in Ireland.

A couple who not legally resident in terms of marriage legislation, but would still like what they will see as a “church wedding” in Ireland for family, romantic or sentimental reasons.

Although we ask God’s blessing on the new marriage, notice how this ceremony is not called a “blessing” and should not be referred to as such. It is really a form of prayer and dedication.

Nor is it a wedding, so there is a stipulation (p. 438) that no rings should be given or received during it – even if it happens that the woman who has already been married wants to arrive in a veil and white dress, and with sisters or friends she may call “bridesmaids.” This ceremony does not repeat what has already happened, and in the pastoral preparation beforehand this should be explained clearly.

3, Funerals

If it be your will ... (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2010)

Eventually you are going to accumulate a collection of unusual stories about Baptisms, Weddings and Funerals. To make the connection between Weddings and Funerals, I heard once of an elderly rector who came out to meet the bride as she arrived at the church, and led her up the aisle, reading the words: “Man that is born of a woman hath but a short time to live …”

But I also heard the distressing story of a rector who would meet the funerals of the landed gentry at the lych gate entering the churchyard; the middle class coffins were met at the steps before the church door; and he waited at the top of the chancel steps for the coffins of working class parishioners to be brought into his church.

But every funeral is different, every funeral is important for everyone involved, and everyone involved is important.

Who do you think “owns” a funeral?

It is not a sacrament, when you consider Baptism, nor is it sacramental in the way that a wedding is. Nor is it merely yet another rite.

But where and when it takes place, and how it is conducted is more than providing the pastoral care of the church at a moment of crisis.

A church and churchyard on Achill Island, Co Mayo (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

A Christian funeral has several purposes, which are difficult to achieve in an hour in a church or in 20 minutes at a crematorium.

A Christian funeral seeks to bring a community together:

● to honour a life;
● to commend the dead to God;
● to give space for grief and yet to move people on;
● to express the love and compassion of God to the bereaved;
● to proclaim the Gospel message of Christ’s death and resurrection;
● to warn of the inevitability of death and to encourage them in walk in this with an eye to eternity;
● to take leave of the body and to say farewell;
● to dispose of the body reverently.

How are these objectives fulfilled in the Funeral Services in The Book of Common Prayer (2004)?

A grave in Kerameikós, Athens … what is customary and what is liturgical at a funeral? (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

The structures of the funeral service are like this (see p. 481):

A, The Funeral Service:

1, Gathering in God’s Name, p. 482):

Receiving the coffin at the door;
Sentences of Scripture;
Greeting;
Introduction;
Prayer;
(Hymn).

2, Prayers of Penitence (p. 483):

The Penitential Kyries;
(Absolution).

3, The Collect (p. 484):

(Silence);
The Collect.

4, Proclaiming and Receiving the Word (p. 484):

(Old Testament or New Testament reading);
Psalm;
New Testament reading (always a Gospel reading when there is Holy Communion).
The Sermon.
The Apostles’ Creed or Te Deum Part 2 (but the Nicene Creed when there is Holy Communion).

5, The Prayers (p. 486):

Thanksgiving for the life of the departed;
Prayer for those who mourn;
Prayer for readiness to live in the light of eternity.

Other prayers including the Lord’s Prayer.

6, The Farewell in Christ (p. 487):

Silence by the coffin;
The Easter Anthems;
‘Leaving’ Prayers.

7, The Committal (p. 488):

Sentence of Scripture;
The Committal;
Prayers when the body has been lowered into the grave, or at a cremation;
Sentence of Scripture (Revelation 14: 13);
(The Lord’s Prayer).

8, The Dismissal (p. 489):

The Dismissal;
The Grace or a blessing.

B, The Funeral Service with Holy Communion;

1, Gathering in God’s Name;
2, Prayers of Penitence;
3, The Collect;
4, Proclaiming and Receiving the Word;
5, The Prayers;
6, The Peace;
7, The Great Thanksgiving;
8, The Breaking of the Bread;
9, The Communion;
10, The Farewell in Christ;
11, The Committal;
12, The Dismissal.

Note the resources and prayers that are also offered (pp 491-497).

A sculpted gravestone in Kerameikós, Athens (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

One of the most difficult situations you may face is the Funeral Service for a Child (pp 504-513).

Other resources and options include a Form for Use in the Home, Funeral Home or Crematorium (pp 514-516).

Like weddings, there are customs and traditions associated with funerals that are not necessarily part of the funeral service:

● members of the family carrying the coffin;
● throwing earth clods into the grave on top of the coffin;
● draping the coffin in a purple pall;
● sprinkling the coffin with the water of baptism.

The Raising of Lazarus, Juan de Flandes, Museo del Prado, Madrid

Some questions:

Who chooses the hymns and readings?
What prayers should you use when you arrive at a house or in hospital to find the person has just died?
What prayers do we say at an evening removal before a morning funeral (see p. 498 ff)?
Are we providing two funeral services?
What if the person who died had no apparent faith?
What if the person who died had faith, but none of their friends or family members has?
Should the funeral service take place in the home? In the undertakers’ chapel?
What makes a crematorium chapel different?
Who chooses the readings and the hymns?
What about secular readings, poems, songs?
Is a eulogy or address appropriate? And, if so, when?
Do you have another funeral service when it comes to the burial of ashes returned from the crematorium? (see p. 501.)
Are you aware of the differences in funeral customs in different parts of Ireland?
What about memorial services?
What about general memorial services in November?
What do you do when it comes to a miscarriage or stillbirth? (see p. 512.)

4, Other rites

At another stage, I hope we shall look at the theology and rites of ordination; and issues in debates about ordination, including gender (for the Ordinal, see pp 517-590).

But you will also need to be familiar with the Confirmation services, even if you are never elected a bishop, for you will be involved in preparing candidates for Confirmation, and be involved in many ways in Confirmation services.

Some of the other liturgical resources provided in The Book of Common Prayer include the Service of Ash Wednesday (p. 338), Harvest resources, Ember and Rogation prayers, and Ministry to those who are Sick (pp 440 ff).

Reading:

Michael Perham, New Handbook of Pastoral Liturgy (London: SPCK, 2000).

Next:

9.2: Seminar: homiletics and homiletics in history: readings may include Saint Augustine, Thomas Cranmer, Lancelot Andrewes, John Wesley and Martin Luther King.

Canon Patrick Comerford is Lecturer in Anglicanism and Liturgy, the Church of Ireland Theological Institute. This lecture on 29 November 2012 was part of the Module EM8824: Liturgy, Worship and Spirituality on the MTh course.