burial services

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Burial is the traditional Christian method of disposing of the dead. At first burials were occasions of joy; from about the 8th cent., when the prevalence of nominal Christianity made such joy not always fitting, the service became ‘black’ and the prayers petitions for speedy purification. By the later Middle Ages the burial itself, with committal prayers, was preceded overnight by Vespers, after which Mattins and Lauds (Dirge) were said in the night, and in the morning a Requiem Mass. The 1969 RC Ordo Exsequiarum provides various alternative forms, in some cases allowing all the funeral rites, including the Mass, to take place in the house of the deceased. In the BCP the Dirge in a modified form (sentences, Psalm, and lesson) is ordered, followed by committal prayers at the graveside. Modern Anglican liturgies make changes in phrasing, allow different Psalms and lessons, and provide for an (optional) Eucharist. They also recognize cremation and sometimes include a form for the burial of ashes. In the Orthodox Church the burial service includes the contakion ‘Give rest, O Christ, to Thy servant’ and an epistle and gospel. The coffin is normally left open and those present kiss the body. See also dead, prayers for the, and Requiem mass.

Subjects: Christianity.

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