3. The Order for the Burial of the Dead (1549 Book of Common Prayer)

The priest meeting the corpse at the church style, shalt say: Or else the priests and clerks shalt sing, and so go either into the church, or towards the grave,

I am the resurrection and the life (saith the Lord): he that believeth in me, yea though he were dead, yet shall he live. And whosoever liveth and believeth in me: shall not die forever. John xi.

I know that my redeemer liveth, and that I shall rise out of the earth in the last day, and shall be covered again with my skin and shall see God in my flesh: yea and I myself shall behold him, not with other but with these same eyes. Job xix.

We brought nothing into this world, neither may we carry anything out of this world. The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away. Even as it pleaseth the Lord, so cometh things to pass: blessed be the name of the Lord.

When they come at the grave, while the corpse is made ready to be laid into the earth, the priest shall say, or else the priest and clerks shall sing,

Man that is born of a woman hath but a short time to live, and is full of misery: he cometh up and is cut down like a flower; he flieth as it were a shadow, and never continueth in one stay. 1 Tim. vi. Job i.

In the midst of life we be in death, of whom may we seek for succor but of thee, O Lord, which for our sins justly art moved? Yet O Lord God most holy, O Lord most mighty, O holy and most merciful Savior, deliver us not into the bitter pains of eternal death. Thou knowest, Lord, the secrets of our hearts: shut not up thy merciful eyes to our prayers: But spare us, Lord most holy, O God most mighty, O holy and merciful Savior, thou most worthy judge eternal, suffer us not at our last hour for any pains of death to fall from thee.

Then the priest casting earth upon the corpse, shall say,

I commend thy soul to God the Father Almighty, and thy body to the ground, earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust, in sure and certain hope of resurrection to eternal life, through our Lord Jesus Christ, who shall change our vile body, that it may be like to his glorious body, according to the mighty working whereby he is able to subdue all things to himself.

Then shall be said or sung,

I heard a voice from heaven saying, unto me: Write, blessed are the dead which die in the Lord. Even so saith the spirit, that they rest from their labors.

Let us pray.

We commend into thy hands of mercy (most merciful Father) the soul of this our brother departed, N. And his body we commit to the earth, beseeching thine infinite goodness, to give us grace to live in thy fear and love, and to die in thy favor: that when the judgement shall come which thou hast committed to thy well-beloved Son, both this our brother, and we, may be found acceptable in thy sight, and receive that blessing, which thy well-beloved Son shall then pronounce to all that love and fear thee, saying: Come ye blessed children of my Father: Receive the kingdom prepared for you before the beginning of the world. Grant this, merciful Father, for the honor of Jesus Christ our only Savior, Mediator, and Advocate. Amen.

This prayer shalt also be added,

Almighty God, we give thee hearty thanks for this thy servant, whom thou hast delivered from the miseries of this wretched world, from the body of death and all temptation. And, as we trust, hast brought his soul which he committed into thy holy hands, into sure consolation and rest: Grant, we beseech thee, that at the day of judgement his soul and all the souls of thy elect, departed out of this life, may with us and we with them, fully receive thy promises, and be made perfect altogether through the glorious resurrection of thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

These psalms with other suffrages following are to be said in the church either before or after the burial of the corpse,

Dilexi, quoniam. Psalm cxvi.

I am well pleased that the Lord hath heard the voice of my prayer.
That he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live.
The snares of death compassed me round about, and the pains of hell gat hold upon me: I shall find trouble and heaviness, and I shall call upon the name of the Lord, (O Lord,) I beseech thee deliver my soul.
Gracious is the Lord, and righteous, yea, our God is merciful.
The lord preserveth the simple: I was in misery and he helped me.
Turn again then unto thy rest, O my soul, for the Lord hath rewarded thee.
And why? thou hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, and my feet from falling.
I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living.
I believed, and therefore will I speak: but I was sore troubled. I said in my haste: all men are liars.
What reward shall I give unto the Lord, for all the benefits that he hath done unto me?
I will receive the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord.
I will pay my vows now in the presence of all his people: right dear in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.
Behold (O Lord) how that I am thy servant: I am thy servant, and the son of thy handmaid, thou hast broken my bonds in sunder.
I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the Name of the Lord.
I will pay my vows unto the Lord, in the sight of all his people, in the courts of the Lord’s house, even in the midst of thee, O Jerusalem.
Glory to the Father, etc.
As it was in the beginning, etc.

Lauda, anima, mea. Psalm cxlvi.

Praise the Lord, (O my soul), while I live will I praise the Lord: yea, as long as I have any being, I will sing praises unto my God.

Note that this psalm is to be said after the others that followeth,

O put not your trust in princes, nor in any child of man, for there is no help in them.
For when the breath of man goeth forth, he shall turn again to his earth, and then all his thoughts perish.
Blessed is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help: and whose hope is in the Lord his God.
Which made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that therein is: which keepeth his promise forever.
Which helpeth them to right that suffer wrong, which feedeth the hungry.
The Lord looseth men out of prison, the Lord giveth sight to the blind.
The Lord helpeth them up that are fallen, the Lord careth for the righteous.
The Lord careth for the strangers, he defendeth the fatherless and widow: as for the way of the ungodly, he turneth it upside down.
The Lord thy God, O Zion, shall be king for evermore, and throughout all generations.
Glory to the Father, etc.
As it was in the beginning, etc.

Domine, probasti. Psalm cxxxix.

O Lord, thou hast searched me out, and known me. Thou knowest my down-sitting, and mine up-rising: thou understandest my thoughts long before.
Thou art about my path, and about my bed, and spiest out all my ways.
For lo, there is not a word in my tongue, but thou (O Lord) knowest it altogether.
Thou hast fashioned me, behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me.
Such knowledge is to wonderful and excellent for me: I cannot attain unto it.
Whither shall I go then from thy spirit? or whither shall I go then from thy presence?
If I climb up into heaven, thou art there: If I go down to hell, thou art there also.
If I take the wings of the morning, and remain in the uttermost parts of the sea;
Even there also shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.
If I say: peradventure the darkness shall cover me, then shall my night be turned to day.Yea the darkness is no darkness with thee: but the night is all clear as the day, the darkness and light to thee are both alike.
For my reins are thine, thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb: I will give thanks unto thee, for I am fearfully and wondrously made: marvelous are thy works, and that my soul knoweth right well.
My bones are not hid from thee, though I be made secretly, and fashioned beneath in the earth.
Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect: and in thy book were all my members written.
Which day by day were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.
How dear are thy counsels unto me, O God? O how great is the sum of them?
If I tell them, they are more in number then the sand; when I wake up, I am present with thee.
Wilt thou not slay the wicked, O God? depart from me, ye bloodthirsty men.
For they speak unrighteously against thee: and then enemies take thy name in vain.
Do not I hate them, O Lord, that hate thee: and am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee?
Yea I hate them right sore, even as though they were mine enemies.
Try me, O God, and seek the ground of mine heart: prove me and examine my thoughts.
Look well if there be any way of wickedness in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
Glory to the Father, etc.
As it was in the beginning, etc.

Then shall follow this lesson, taken out of the XV. Chapter to the Corinthians, the first Epistle,

Christ is risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For by a man came death, and by a man came the resurrection of the dead. For as by Adam all die: even so by Christ shall all be made alive, but every man in his own order. The first is Christ, then they that are Christ’s, at his coming. Then cometh the end, when he hath delivered up the kingdom to God the Father, when he hath put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign till he have put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed, is death. For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he sayeth all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him. When all things are subdued unto him, then shall the son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all. Else what do they, which are baptized over the dead, if the dead rise not at all? Why are they then baptized over them? yea, and why stand we alway then in jeopardy? By our rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily. That I have fought with beasts at Ephesus after the manner of men, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not again? Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we shall die. Be not ye deceived: evil words corrupt good manners. Awake truly out of sleep, and sin not. For some have not the knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame. But some man will say: how arise the dead? with what body shall they come? Thou fool, that which thou sowest, is not quickened, except it die. And what sowest thou? Thou sowest not that body that shall be; but bare corn as of wheat, or of some other: but God giveth it a body at his pleasure, to every seed his own body. All flesh is not one manner of flesh: but there is one manner of flesh of men, another manner of flesh of beasts, another of fishes, another of birds. There are also celestial bodies, and there are bodies terrestrial. But the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one manner glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars. For one star differeth from another in glory. So is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption, it riseth again in incorruption. It is sown in dishonor, it riseth again in honor. It is sown in weakness, it riseth again in power. It is sown a natural body, it riseth again a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body: as it is also written: The first man Adam was made a living soul, and the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. Howbeit, that is not first which is spiritual: but that which is natural, and then that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy: The second man is the Lord from heaven (heavenly). As is the earthy, such are they that are earthy. And as is the heavenly, such are they that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly. This say I brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God: Neither doth corruption inherit uncorruption. Behold, I shew you a mystery. We shall not all sleep: but we shall all be changed, and that in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye by the last trump. For the trump shall blow, and the dead shall rise incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption: and this mortal must put on immortality. When this corruptible hath put on incorruption, and this mortal hath put on immortality: then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: Death is swallowed up in victory: Death where is thy sting? Hell where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin: and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be unto God, which hath given us victory, through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brethren, be ye steadfast and unmovable, always rich in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain, in the Lord.

The lesson ended then shall the Priest say,

Lord, have mercy upon us.
Christ, have mercy upon us.
Lord, have mercy upon us.
Our Father which art in heaven, etc.
And lead us not into temptation.
Answer. But deliver us from evil. Amen.

Priest. Enter not (O Lord) into judgement with thy servant.
Answer. For in thy sight no living creature shall be justified.
Priest. From the gates of hell.
Answer. Deliver their souls, O Lord.
Priest. I believe to see the goodness of the Lord.
Answer. In the land of the living.
Priest. O Lord, graciously hear my prayer.
Answer. And let my cry come unto thee.

Let us pray.

O Lord, with whom do live the spirits of them that be dead: and in whom the souls of them that be elected, after they be delivered from the burden of the flesh, be in joy and felicity: Grant unto us thy servant, that the sins which he committed in this world be not imputed unto him, but that he, escaping the gates of hell and pains of eternal darkness: may ever dwell in the region of height, with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in the place where is no weeping, sorrow, nor heaviness: and when that dreadful day of the general resurrection shall come, make him to rise also with the just and righteous, and receive this body again to glory, then made pure and incorruptible, set him on the right hand of thy Son Jesus Christ, among thy holy and elect, that then he may hear with them these most sweet and comfortable words: Come to me ye blessed of my father, possess the kingdom which hath been prepared for you from the beginning of the world: Grant this we beseech thee, O merciful Father: through Jesus Christ our mediator and redeemer. Amen.

The Celebration of Holy Communion when there is a Burial of the Dead

Quemadmodum. Psalm xlii.

Like as the hart desireth the water-brooks, so longeth my soul after thee, O God.
My soul is athirst for God, yea, even for the living God: when shall I come to appear before the presence of God?
My tears have been my meat day and night, while they daily say unto me, Where is now thy God?
Now when I think thereupon, I pour out my heart by myself: for I went with the multitude, and brought them forth unto the house of God, in the voice of praise and thanksgiving, among such as keep holyday.
Why art thou so full of heaviness, (O my soul): and why art thou so unquiet within me?
Put thy trust in God, for I will yet give him thanks for the help of his countenance.
My God, my soul is vexed within me: therefore will I remember thee concerning the land of Jordan, and the little hill of Hermon.
One deep calleth another, because of the noise of thy water pipes, all thy waves and storms are gone over me.
The Lord hath granted his lovingkindness on the day time, and in the night season did I sing of him, and made my prayer unto the God of my life.
I will say unto the God of my strength, why haste thou forgotten me? why go I thus heavily, while the enemy oppresseth me?
My bones are smitten asunder, while mine enemies (that trouble me) cast me in the teeth, namely while they say daily unto me: where is now thy God?
Why art thou so vexed, (O my soul) and why art thou so disquieted within me?
O put thy trust in God, for I will yet thank him which is the help of my countenance, and my God.
Glory to the Father, etc.
As it was in the beginning, etc.


O merciful God the father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the resurrection and the life: In whom whosoever believeth shall live though he die: And whosoever liveth, and believeth in him, shall not die eternally: who also hath taught us (by his holy Apostle Paul) not to be sorry as men without hope for them that sleep in him: We meekly beseech thee (O Father) to raise us from the death of sin, unto the life of righteousness, that when we shall depart this life, we may sleep in him (as our hope is this our brother doeth), and at the general resurrection in the last day, both we and this our brother departed, receiving again our bodies, and rising again in thy most gracious favor: may with all thine elect Saints, obtain eternal joy. Grant this, O Lord God, by the means of our advocate Jesus Christ: which with thee and the Holy Ghost, liveth and reigneth one God for ever. Amen.

The Epistle. 1 Thess. iv.

I would not brethren that ye should be ignorant concerning them which are fallen asleep, that ye sorrow not as other do, which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died, and rose again: even so them also which sleep by Jesus, will God bring again with him. For this say we unto you in the word of the Lord: that we which shall live, and shall remain in the coming of the Lord, shall not come ere they which sleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, and the voice of the Archangel, and trump of God. And the dead in Christ shall arise first: then we which shall live (even we which shall remain) shall be caught up with them also in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air. And so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort yourselves one another with these words.

The gospel. John vi.

Jesus said to his disciples and to the Jews: All that the Father giveth me, shall come to me: and he that cometh to me, I cast not away. For I came down from heaven: not to do that I will, but that he will, which hath sent me. And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me, I shall lose nothing: but raise them up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me: that every one which seeth the son and believeth on him, have everlasting life: And I will raise him up at the last day.[1]

  1. Original text from the 1549 Book of Common Prayer, with modernized spelling.


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