In the New Testament, “saints” are all the baptized, the entire membership of the Body of Christ, and in the Collect for All Saints’ Day the word “elect” is used in a similar sense. But from early times, the word “saint” came to be applied particularly to persons whose lives bore exemplary witness to the grace of God in Christ, whose witness was recalled with gratitude by later generations of believers.
Beginning in the tenth century, it became customary to set aside another day, as a kind of extension of the feast of All Saints, on which the Church commemorated that vast body of the faithful who, though no less members of the company of the redeemed, are unknown to the wider fellowship of the Church. At first a commemoration of the departed of the monastic orders, under Odilo of Cluny (†1049) it was extended to include “all the dead who have existed from the beginning of the world…until the end of time”. Evidence for its English celebration is found in the Monastic Constitutions of Archbishop Lanfranc (†1089) and in at least four ancient dedications of churches and a college at Oxford. All Souls is also a day for particular remembrance of faithful departed family members and friends.
The observance of the day was abolished at the Reformation because of its association with the doctrine of purgatory and the abuses associated with Masses offered for the dead, but a renewed understanding of its meaning has led to a widespread reclamation of this commemoration among Anglicans and to its inclusion in the calendars of the Church of England, The Episcopal Church, and the Anglican Church of Canada, among others.
adapted from Lesser Feasts and Fasts (1980) – reposted from Todd Granger’s Blog
O God, the Maker and Redeemer of all believers: Grant to the faithful departed the unsearchable benefits of the passion of your Son; that on the day of his appearing they may be manifested as your children; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
A Prayer For All The Faithful Departed
In peace let us pray to the Lord.
Almighty God, who have knit together your elect in one communion and fellowship, in the mystical body of your Son Christ our Lord: Grant to your whole Church in paradise and on earth, your light and your peace.
Grant that all those who have been baptized into Christ’s death and resurrection may die to sin and rise to newness of life, and that through the grave and gate of death we may pass with him to our joyful resurrection.
Grant to us who are still in our pilgrimage, and who walk as yet by faith, that your Holy Spirit may lead us in holiness and righteousness all our days.
Grant to your faithful people pardon and peace, that we may be cleansed from all our sins, and serve you with a quiet mind.
Grant to all who mourn a sure confidence in your fatherly care, that, casting all their grief upon you, they may know the consolation of your love.
Give courage and faith to those who are bereaved, that they may have strength to meet the days ahead in the comfort of a reasonable and holy hope, in the joyful expectation of eternal life with those they love.
Help us, in the midst of things we cannot understand, to believe and trust in the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, and the resurrection to life everlasting.
Grant us, with all who have died in the hope of the resurrection, to have our consummation and bliss in your eternal and everlasting glory, and, with all your saints, to receive the crown of life which you promise to all who share in the victory of your Son Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
Father of all, we pray to you for those we love, but see no longer: Grant them your peace; let light perpetual shine upon them; and in your loving wisdom and almighty power, work in them the good purpose of your perfect will; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, we pray you to set your passion, cross, and death, between your judgement and our souls, now and in the hour of our death. Give mercy and grace to the living, pardon and rest to the dead, to your holy Church peace and concord, and to us sinners everlasting life and glory; who with the Father and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest, one God, now and ever.
Lord Jesus Christ, who by your death have taken away the sting of death: Grant to us your servants so to follow in faith where you have led the way, that we may at length fall asleep peacefully in you, and awake after your likeness; for your tender mercies’ sake.
O Almighty God, the God of the spirits of all flesh, who by a voice from heaven proclaimed, Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord: Multiply, we pray, to those who rest in Jesus the abundant blessings of your love, that the good work which you have begun in them may be made perfect unto the day of Jesus Christ. And of your mercy, O heavenly Father, grant that we, who now serve you on earth, may at last, together with them, be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light; for the sake of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord.
A Prayer For Those Who Mourn
Lord, Jesus Christ, the Resurrection and the Life:
You consoled Martha and Mary in their distress; draw near to us who mourn, and dry the tears of those who weep.
You wept at the grave of Lazarus, your friend; comfort us in our sorrow.
You raised the dead to life; give to our (brother/sister) eternal life.
You promised paradise to the thief who repented; bring our (brother/sister) to the joys of heaven.
Our (brother/sister) was washed in Baptism and annointed with the Holy Spirit; give (him/her) fellowship with all thy saints.
(He/She) was nourished with your Body and Blood; grant (him/her) a place at the table in your heavenly kingdom.
Comfort us in our sorrows at the death of our (brother/sister); let our faith be our consolation, and eternal life our hope.
Almighty God, Father of all mercies and giver of comfort: Deal graciously, we pray, with all who mourn; that, casting all their care upon you, they may know the consolation of your love; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Almighty God, look with pity upon the sorrows of your servants for whom we pray. Remember them, Lord, in mercy; nourish them with patience; comfort them with a sense of your goodness; lift up your countenance upon them; and give them peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord.