Preparing for a Funeral at Christ Church
Parish Office (Mon-Fri 9.30am - 4.00pm)
(03) 9866 4434
Preparing for a Funeral at Christ Church
In response to the mystery of living and dying, human beings in every culture have developed and observed rites of passage to mark life’s journey since time immemorial. With respect to the death of someone we love this is especially important, both to honour and commemorate the dead, and to give collective expression to grief and loss.
In the Church catholic, or universal – including the Anglican Church – the funeral service, in which we lay a person’s body to rest, is our rite of passage from life to death. The wounds of grief need time and care to heal. The funeral may help this process, by enabling us to acknowledge our loss, give thanks for the life of the person who has died, make our last farewell, and begin to take up life once more.
Christians believe in God, the source and giver of life. God’s good news proclaims Jesus Christ to be our living Lord, who knew death, yet triumphed over it, drawing its sting, and being raised by the One he called ‘Father’ to new life. Christians affirm the presence of the Holy Spirit, the divine Comforter, who does not remove suffering or sorrow, but helps us to bear it with grace and integrity, as we confront the reality of our mortality.
Christian funeral rites therefore proclaim the Church’s hope in the face of death.
Sections of these pages have been adapted from A Prayer Book for Australia, copyright 1995, TheAnglican Church of Australia Trust Corporation, published under the imprint of Broughton Books, and A Pastoral Handbook for Anglicans, edited by Charles Sherlock, copyright 2001, The Anglican Diocese ofMelbourne, published by Acorn Press.
Grief and Commemoration
Although everyone has a different experience of grief, soon after the death of arelative or friend, some people may feel overwhelmed by the many importantdecisions that have to be made in a short space of time. We hope that these pageswill help you to find your way, or at least point you in the right direction, during thisvery difficult time. Do not hesitate to ring Christ Church at any time – a member ofthe Ministry Team can provide counsel and/or pastoral care, according to your need.
Funeral Director / Undertaker
When someone dies, one of the first things the next of kin is asked to do is to contact a funeral director. This can be a confronting experience, but the choice is an important one. Although you may change funeral directors at any time, it is usualthat the same firm will be engaged to provide the following services:
remove the physical remains of the person who has died to another place, and
tend to the body in preparation for the funeral rites to be held;
seek a death certificate from the relevant authorities;
place a death and/or funeral notice in the newspaper;
help the family of the person who has died in planning a funeral rites (e.g. finding,
recommending and/or booking a church or chapel; organising flowers; providing
cars and drivers; providing a coffin or casket; finding a venue to provide post-
funeral hospitality; booking caterers etc.);
help the chief mourners in thinking about burial or cremation, and organising for
their wishes to be carried out, including (where applicable) returning cremated
remains to the family for interment, or laying them to rest in some other way;
arranging for a viewing of the body, where appropriate, as per the family’swishes.
Please contact us if you would like any assistance with choosing and/or contacting afuneral director.
Establishing a Day/Date and Time
Once in touch with a funeral director, they will make a time to meet with the next ofkin to discuss the funeral arrangements. There is no set number of days which shouldelapse between someone’s death and their funeral, and no set day of the week ortime that a funeral should be held. At Christ Church, we are unable to hold funeralson any Sunday or public holiday; or on Christmas Eve (24 December). Availability at other times is subject to existing services, bookings, and other commitments, but wewill endeavour to accommodate the family’s requests wherever possible.
There is no need to rush to select a date – indeed funerals can be delayed to allow forfamily members to fly in from overseas, or to assist in the grieving process. The funeral director and the clergy of the Parish will help you make such decisions.
If you plan to have a funeral at Christ Church (and this ministry is open to all, whetherregular churchgoers or not), the funeral director will contact us initially to check foravailable times and dates, organise a time for the family of the person who has diedto meet with us, and then will then usually hand arrangements for the service itselfover to the officiating clergy and other members of the Ministry Team.
We will arrange for one of the Parish clergy to be the Officiant at the funeral. Clergy ofother denominations are not normally able to officiate at funerals at Christ Church;however, where appropriate, they may assist in the service. The service will be conducted according to the funerary rites as stipulated by the Anglican Church ofAustralia’s A Prayer Book For Australia (1995), details of which will be discussed at your interview with the Officiant.
The Parish verger assists the funeral directors with seating those attending thefuneral, and assists the Officiant with preparing the church and resetting the spaceafterwards.
Unless you wish to have no music at the funeral (in which case the organist’s fee iswaived), an organist appointed by the Parish will play. If alternate musicians are used, the organist’s fee is still payable.
Recorded music (including CDs) is not normally permitted, and all music to beperformed at the funeral, and those performing it, must be approved by the Director of Music. Please note that there is to be no amplification of musical instruments or of singers.
The Director of Music, Michael Fulcher, can provide professional soloists, choirs andother ensembles as required. After your initial meeting with the Officiant, he or shewill contact Michael to discuss your wishes. Unfortunately, due to the short period oftime usually available to prepare for the funeral, it may not always be possible to fulfilall of your musical wishes.
Please understand that non-sacred music is more suited to a non-liturgical funeral rite(such as a wake) than at the service itself. It is not necessary to have hymns, but ifyou believe one or more would be appropriate (and that the congregation will sing it), please discuss this with the Officiant. A list of suitable hymns is provided at the end ofthis booklet, and the Officiant will be happy to suggest alternatives beyond thoselisted.
You will find online recordings of some hymns and organ pieces on YouTube. Words ofhymns may be found at a website such as CyberHymnal.
If you wish to have Holy Communion at the funeral, this can be arranged with theOfficiant.
Printing Orders of Service
Copies of a special Order of Service will printed for you by the Parish or its preferredprinting firm. This will be discussed with the Officiant at your meeting.
Eulogies or Tributes
A Christian funeral service seeks to honour the dead within the context of a corporateact of worship, the focus of which is upon God. Whilst it is important to remember theachievements and character of the person who has died, this represents only one partof the service. A Prayer Book for Australia states that, close to the beginning of aservice, ‘A member of the family or a friend may speak about the person who hasdied.’ We recommend that the family appoints someone who is used to publicspeaking, to prepare a brief summary of the life and qualities of the person who hasdied. This may be formal or informal in style, but should reflect the nature of theperson who has died as well as the dignity of the occasion. We also recommend that the eulogy is written out in full, so that if the person appointed to deliver it becomesoverly upset and unable to continue, someone else may read it.
Whilst it is possible to have more than one eulogy, a multiplicity of speakers is bestavoided, as unduly long services can be physically and emotionally taxing for those in grief. We would recommend that the eulogy/-ies run for no more than 15 minutes in total, which – in our experience, amounts to around 1500 words (another advantageof having the text(s) typed out in advance. Other tributes are often best left to a less formal, non-liturgical gathering, such as the post-funeral hospitality, or a quiet familygathering. It is customary for the Officiant to deliver a short sermon or homily at theappointed time in the service.
A list of suitable Bible readings for funerals is provided in this document. You will needto select one or more most appropriate for your service. Again, this will discussed at your interview. Appropriate readings from other sources may also be included, in consultation with the Officiant.
As a matter of course, flowers are placed in Christ Church for funeral services, andthese tend to be predominantly white in colour. If you have special requirements, youshould discuss this with the funeral director and with the Officiant. Floral tributes sent to the church will be placed on garden areas near the main entrance. The funeral director will ask you what you would like done with them following the service.
Old Vicarage Parish Centre
This gracious and convivial ‘home’ (only the upper floor is now used as a dwelling)contains two large public rooms, which are available as a venue for hospitality afterthe funeral, for up to 100 people (or more if the weather is fine and the outdoorcourtyard can be used). We can help by putting you in touch with professionalcaterers who are used to working in this space and our kitchen, and who can provideanything from a cup of tea and a sandwich to wine and extensive finger food,depending on your wishes. Please discuss this with the Officiant at your interview.
As Christ Church Grammar School shares our site, on weekdays during school term weare unable to provide on-site parking other than for official funerary vehicles. Limited parking is available for chief mourners and the disabled. South Yarra train station is a short walk along Toorak Rd to the east of the church, and the number 8 tram stopsdirectly across the road coming from either direction.
The fee for funerals at Christ Church is currently approximately $1,085. This varies at the discretion of the Vicar according to requirements and pastoral circumstances, butalways includes the services of the office secretary, clergy, verger, bell ringer,organist, provision of flowers, compilation and (onsite) printing of Orders of Service. No charge is made for the use of the church as such, but additional costs may beincurred for the use of the Old Vicarage Parish Centre. The choir and/or othermusicians are available at an additional fee (which is negotiated with the Director ofMusic).
After the Funeral
A member of our Ministry Team, often the Officiant at the funeral, is available tocontinue the funeral ministry at the graveside or crematorium if requested; a furtherfee may apply. Cremated remains may be interred at a later date, as part of a regularservice, in the beautiful Garden of Remembrance at Christ Church. Whilst individualplots are not reserved or available, the ashes are interred into the earth, the name ofthe person who has died and been interred is recorded in the Memorial Book, and theyare remembered annually by name in the prayers on the Sunday before theanniversary of their death. There is normally a fee levied for interment into theMemorial Garden, which is significantly less than that charged by a cemetery or publicmemorial garden. Please discuss your wishes with the Officiant.
CONTACT Parish Office (Mon-Fri 9.30am - 1.00pm):
(03) 9866 4434
Selected Bible Readings for Funerals
If you do not own a Bible, various online sites allow you to search and display bibletexts. The translation of the Bible normally read at Christ Church is the New RevisedStandard Version. Here is provided the most recognisable sections of the readings:
Psalm 23 ‘The Lord is my shepherd: therefore can I lack nothing.’ … (either read or sung)
Psalm 46 ‘God is our refuge and strength: a very present help in trouble.’ …
Sections of Psalm 90 ‘Lord, you have been our refuge: from one generation to another.’ …
Psalm 121 ‘I lift up my eyes to the hills: but where shall I find help?’ …
Psalm 139:1-11 ‘O Lord, you have searched me out and known me:’ …
Ecclesiastes 3:1-13 ‘For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time tobe born, and a time to die;’ …
Isaiah 65:17-25 ‘For I am about to create new heavens and a new earth; the former things shall not beremembered or come to mind.’ …
Matthew 5:1-12a ‘When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, hisdisciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying: “Blessed arethe poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.’ …
Mark 10:13-16 ‘People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them; and thedisciples spoke sternly to them. But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said tothem, “Let the little children come to me; do not stop them;’ …
John 6:35-40 ‘Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never behungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.’ …
John 11:17-27 ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, willlive, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.’ …
John 14:1-6 ‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’shouse there are many dwelling-places.’ …
‘Mary Magdalene said to them, ‘They have taken away my Lord, and I do not knowwhere they have laid him.’ When she had said this, she turned round and saw Jesusstanding there, but she did not know that it was Jesus.’ …
Romans 6:3-9 ‘Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus werebaptized into his death? Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism intodeath, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, sowe too might walk in newness of life.’ …
Romans 8:31-39 ‘For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor thingspresent, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in allcreation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.’ …
1 Corinthians 13 ‘Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. Andnow faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.’ …
Philippians 4:4-9‘Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication withthanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, whichsurpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.’ …
Revelation 21:1-7 ‘Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth hadpassed away, and the sea was no more.’ …
Selected Hymns for Funerals
If you do not own a hymn book, various online sites allow you to search and display hymn texts, and hear their tunes.
Abide with me, fast falls the eventideAll things bright and beautifulAlleluia, sing to JesusAll creatures of our God and kingAll my hope on God is foundedAmazing grace, how sweet the soundBe still my soul, the Lord is on thy sideBe thou my vision, O Lord of my heartBlest are the pure in heartChrist be my leader by night as by dayComfort, comfort all my peopleDear Lord and Father of mankind Do not be afraid, I am with youEternal Father, strong to saveFarewell. We come to send you on the wayFor all the saints who from their labours rest God is love, let heav’n adore himGoodness is stronger than evilGuide me, O thou great redeemerHow sweet the name of Jesus sounds I heard the voice of Jesus sayI to the hills will lift my eyesImmortal, invisible, God only wiseIn faith and hope and loveIn the bulb there is a flower Jerusalem the golden, with milk andhoney blestJesus lives! thy terrors now can no more,O deathappal usJesus, my Redeemer, livesJust as I am, without one plea Lead us, heavenly Father, lead usLet saints on earth in concert singLove divine, all loves excellingLove’s redeeming work is doneLord, keep us steadfast in your wordLord of all hopefulness, Lord of all joyLord of creation, to you be all praiseLord of the living, in your name assembledMay flights of angels lead you on your wayNearer my God to theeNow thank we all our God O God, our help in ages pastO God, you search me and you know meO Jesus, I have promisedO Lord my God, when I in awesomewonder (How great thou art)Praise, my soul, the King of heavenRejoice in God’s saints, today and all daysRock of ages, cleft for meThe day thou gavest, Lord, is endedThe king of love my shepherd isThe Lord’s my shepherd, I’ll not wantThe strife is o’er, the battle doneThine be the glory, risen, conquering SonWhat a friend we have in Jesus When human voices cannot sing andhuman hearts are breakingWhen I survey the wondrous crossYe holy angels brightYe watchers and ye holy ones