a vibrant and affirmative congregation and ministry
New Bedford, Massachusetts

Christian Burial

“The liturgy for the dead is an Easter liturgy. It finds all its meaning in the resurrection. Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we, too, shall be raised. The liturgy, therefore, is characterized by joy, in the certainty that ‘neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.’ This joy, however, does not make human grief unchristian. The very love we have for each other in Christ brings deep sorrow when we are parted by death. Jesus himself wept at the grave of his friend. So, while we rejoice that one we love has entered into the nearer presence of our Lord, we sorrow in sympathy with those who mourn.” (Book of Common Prayer, page 507)

All of us will die. In the Episcopal Church, we believe that through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, at death, “… life is changed not ended; and when our mortal body lies in death, there is prepared for us a dwelling place eternal in the heavens.” (From the preface for the “Commemoration of the Dead”, page 382, The Book of Common Prayer)

Our burial services find their meaning in the Resurrection; because Jesus was raised from the dead, we too shall be raised. The services are characterized by joy in the eternal love of God in Jesus Christ, and by our human grief at the death of a loved one. While we rejoice that a loved one is now with God, we are sorrowful with those who mourn.

A death should be reported as soon as possible to the clergy of Grace Church, and all arrangements for burial services are made in consultation with the clergy. Burial services follow the rites authorized by the Episcopal Church. Christian burial services are customarily held in the church but for pastoral reasons may be held at the funeral home or graveside. When possible, burial services are to be held at a time and place when family, friends, colleagues, and the congregation of the deceased have the opportunity to be present. If cremation is to take place, burial services may be held prior to this, or if held afterwards, the ashes should be present at the service.

A memorial service, if desired, will often take place weeks, months, or a year after death has occurred.


Readings from Scripture

During the service, at least one lesson from the Gospels will always be read, but several additional readings from Holy Scripture may be chosen. You may choose a reading from the Old Testament, a Psalm, a reading from the New Testament, and a reading from the Gospel. The clergy can assist you in selecting the readings. A deacon, priest, or bishop always reads the Gospel lesson. Should you prefer, Lay Readers available from the church can read from the Old Testament and the New Testament and can lead the congregation in the reading of the Psalm. If able, we encourage family members or friends to read a lesson from Holy Scripture. Some of the suggested readings for a service are:

From the Old Testament:

From the New Testament:

The Gospel

Some hymns appropriate for the Burial of the Dead:

Note: Hymn numbers are from The Hymnal, 1982.

  • 208 The strife is o’er
  • 324 Let all mortal flesh keep silence
  • 335 I am the bread of life
  • 383 Fairest Lord Jesus
  • 429 I’ll praise my Maker while I’ve breath
  • 447 The Christ who died but rose again
  • 473 Lift high the cross
  • 526 Let saints on earth in concert sing
  • 608 Eternal Father, strong to save
  • 618 Ye watchers and ye holy ones
  • 620 Jerusalem, my happy home
  • 635 If thou but trust in God to guide thee
  • 645 The King of love my Shepherd is
  • 657 Love divine, all loves excelling
  • 662 Abide with me
  • 671 Amazing grace!
  • 680 O God, our help in ages past
  • 688 A mighty fortress is our God
  • 690 Guide me, O thou great Jehovah
  • 691 My faith looks up to thee
  • 708 Savior, like a shepherd lead us
  • 636,637 How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord

There is music from our Lift Every Voice and Sing hymnal that is also appropriate. Please discuss alternative hymns with the parish clergy or music director.


Ministration at Time of Death

The church also has a rite for the last stage of our life on this earth, called Ministration at the Time of Death (or commonly known as Last Rites). This is found on page 462 of the Book of Common Prayer. If this is desired, please contact the clergy or call the church office. If the church office is closed, you can contact clergy through dialing 6 for a pastoral emergency.

Depart, O Christian soul, out of this world;
In the Name of God the Father Almighty who created you;
In the Name of Jesus Christ who redeemed you;
In the Name of the Holy Spirit who sanctifies you.
May your rest be this day in peace,
and your dwelling place in the Paradise of God.

Book of Common Prayer, p. 464