02 November 2016

‘Grant us, with all the faithful departed,
… the fullness of your promises’

All Souls College, Oxford ... All Souls’ Day falls today (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

My interview with Louise Denvir on the History Show on RTÉ Radio 1 on Sunday evening [31 were linked with the launch next week of a new book, Death and the Irish: a miscellany, edited by Professor Salvador Ryan and published by Wordwell, to which I have contributed two chapter, and to All Souls’ Day, which falls today [2 November 2016].

The increasing popularity of Halloween on 31 October obscures the fact that All Souls’ Day is observed in many parts of the Western Church today. It is particularly associated with the Roman Catholic Church, and while it does not feature in the calendar of the Church of Ireland, it is marked in the calendar of the Church of England, which has restored its place in Common Worship as the ‘Commemoration of the Faithful Departed (All Souls’ Day)’ (Common Worship, p 15).

All Souls’ Day follows the commemoration of All Saints’ Day yesterday [1 November].

The full, official name of All Souls College, Oxford, which I visited some years ago, is: The Warden and the College of the Souls of All Faithful People deceased in the University of Oxford.

But it is interesting too that one of the leading evangelical churches in London is All Souls’ Church, Langham Place, at least since the Revd John Stott was there, first as curate (1945-1950) and then as Rector (1950-1975). All Souls is the only surviving church built by the Regency architect John Nash – although the history of the church on the parish website gives no explanation of the choice of name.

In Lichfield Cathedral, the ‘Commemoration of the Faithful Departed’ or All Souls’ Day is being marked throughout the day. At 08:00Morning Prayer (8 a.m.), at the said Requiem Eucharist (12.30), at the Choral Evensong (5.30 p.m.) and at the Solemn Requiem (Eucharist) for All Souls' Sung by Lichfield Cathedral Chamber Choir (7.30 p.m.).

The architecture of All Souls College symbolises all we think of when we speak of the ‘Dreaming Spires’ of Oxford (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Collect (Common Worship):

Eternal God, our maker and redeemer,
grant us, with all the faithful departed,
the sure benefits of your Son’s saving passion
and glorious resurrection
that, in the last day,
when you gather up all things in Christ,
we may with them enjoy the fullness of your promises;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.


Lamentations 3: 17-26, 31-33 or Wisdom 3: 1-9; Psalm 23 or 27: 1-6, 16, 17; Romans 5: 5-11 or 1 Peter 1: 3-9; John 5: 19-25 or John 6: 37-40.

Post Communion Prayer:

God of love, may the death and resurrection of Christ,
which we have celebrated in this Eucharist,
bring us, with all the faithful departed,
into the peace of your eternal home.
We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ,
our rock and our salvation,
to whom be glory for time and for eternity.

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