Orthodox Funeral Service

I have been wanting to write something about the funeral service since the funeral last week. So I thought today would be a good day. The Funeral Service is actually a series of services that begins with the Office of the Parting of the Soul from the Body. This takes place with family and friends gathered around the person who is gravely ill. There is a slightly different office when the person has been suffering for a prolonged period of time and the people pray for a merciful parting.
Office of the Burial of the dead. This begins with the wake service. Usually held in the funeral home but as of late here in the village we have been having the wake services in the church. The priest and chanter will come into the wake and begin the wake service like the liturgical services usually begin. “Blessed is our God now and always and forever and ever.” Then the prayers begin including the Troparion:

Among the righteous spirits departed this life, O Savior, rest the soul of your servant, bringing it to that blessed life with you, O lover of mankind.

Followed by the Litany of the dead and the prayer of the priest:

O God of spirits and of all bodies, who trampled down death and overcame the devil and bestowed life on your world, yourself O Lord rest the soul of your servant (N) who has fallen asleep, in a place of light, in a place of green pastures, in a place of rest from where pain, sorrow and sighing have been driven away. Forgive him every transgression committed in word, in deed, or in thought, for you are good O God and the lover of mankind. For there is no man born who does not transgress and you alone are without sin, your righteousness is everlasting and your word is true.
For you are the resurrection, the life and the repose of your servant (N) who has fallen asleep, O Christ God, and we offer glory to you, together with your Father who is without beginning and your all-holy, good and life-creating Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.

Another litany, followed by a reading from the Gospel depending on the day of the week. Then another Litany and the dismissal. Usually during the litanies the incense is used. However I have found this can lead to some unwanted guests at the wake service in the funeral home as the Fire Department shows up so I usually don’t use it at the funeral home. In the church I will use the incense during the wake service.
At the conclusion of all of the services for the dead we sing Memory Eternal three times while ringing the bell.
The concludes the wake service next the funeral service itself, and then the memorial services that are conducted for the departed.
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