May we remember them – All Souls Day


2 Nov 2017

The origin of All Souls Day (2 November) seems to date to 1048 when Abbot St Odilo of the monastery of Cluny declared this celebration to commemorate departed Christians. In the course of several hundred years, the feast spread across Europe to England and finally, in the fourteenth century Rome made it an official feast.

Edward Hayes in The Old Hermit’s Almanac (p.312) tells us that ‘this millennium-old celebration is an expression of the Christian belief in the Communion of Saints, the mystical solidarity uniting all of the Body of Christ living on earth with those who have died and are now one with God. This web allows spiritual energy to flow between the living and the dead by way of prayer, various good works and especially Holy Communion, which unites the Head and all the Body of Christ.’

Many cultures have taken on this observance and keep it in various ways. In some places, cemeteries are given special attention so that graves might be decorated with candles or flowers. In Latin America, this is known as the ‘Day of the Dead’ and is an occasion of great festivity.  Bakeries sell sweets and cakes in the shapes of skulls, skeletons, and coffins. In some Mediterranean cultures, children receive gifts of candy. It is also common to set up shrines to remember those we have died.

Christians have been praying for their departed friends and relatives since the earliest days of Christianity. Early liturgies and inscriptions on catacomb walls attest to this. Praying for the dead is actually borrowed from Judaism, as indicated in 2 Maccabees 12:42-42.

Setting the scene

Leader:  On All Souls Day we remember those who have died – friends, colleagues, relatives.  People we have studied with, worked with, laughed with, cried with, and walked with.  Many of them are not famous.  There are no statues of them on the streets or in the churches but their pictures are in our homes and their stories are alive in our community and in us.

Opening prayer

God of comfort may our hearts be open to your healing touch.  May our spirits be prepared to acknowledge the glory of your heavenly kingdom. We ask this through Jesus your Son and our brother in love. Amen

Leader: We will sing together ‘The Lord is my Shepherd


The Lord is my Shepherd and I want to follow wherever he leads me, wherever he goes.

Over the mountains, the waters and byways, valleys and highways, he’s waiting for me.  


I want to go to meet him there, to lay myself down in his love. 

The Lord is my Shepherd and I want to follow wherever he leads me, wherever he goes.  

And while on the journey to where we are going he promised to be there to help us along. 

And over the mountains we’ll walk on together, know all the wonders he’s given to me. 


Reader: Isaiah 25:6-9

On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-matured wines, of rich food filled with marrow, of well-matured wines strained clear.

And he will destroy on this mountain the shroud that is cast over all peoples, the sheet that is spread over all nations; he will swallow up death for ever.

Then the Lord God will wipe away the tears from all faces, and the disgrace of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken.

It will be said on that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, so that he might save us. This is the Lord for whom we have waited; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.

This is the word of the Lord

All:  Thanks be to God

Reader: Matthew 11:25-30

Jesus Thanks His Father

At that time Jesus said, ‘I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

‘Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.’

This is the Gospel of the Lord.

All:  Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ.


Reader: We look to you

All:  We look to you with praise

Reader:  For the blessing of the lives of our departed loved ones,

All:  In praise

For opening your arms to receive our families

All:  In praise

For the home of peace and love in which they now reside,

All:  In praise

For the welcome you give to all your cherished children.

All:  We look to you in hope

Reader:  For healing amidst our sorrow for your loss,

All:  With hope

For an abating of our mourning with knowledge that our love ones res in you.

All:  With hope

For the promise of tomorrows without grief and heartache,

All:  With hope

For serenity that will return to our hearts in your time.

All:  We look to you in remembrance

Reader:  Of the life of our loved ones,

All:  In remembrance,

Of their patience and strength,

All:  In remembrance,

Of their love and support,

All:  In remembrance,

Of their humour and companionship

All:  We look to you in thanksgiving

Reader:  For our fond memories,

All:  In thanksgiving

For the sharing of gifts,

All:  In thanksgiving

For your everlasting love,

All:  In thanksgiving

Closing prayer

Leader:  Compassionate God,

May we open our hearts

to receive your blessing.

May we open our souls

in witness to your grace.

May we open our lives

to welcome your love.

We ask this through your Son,

our companion, Jesus Christ.


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