The order of service is arranged in consultation with the Rector. St John’s clergy are able to produce a template of the order of service in MS Word format containing the text of the readings and hymns as selected in consultation with those planning the funeral, together with the prayers said by all, and to supply this by email to a printer or funeral director for printing.
Some families request that there be a viewing of the deceased in the Church prior to the commencement of the service. Whilst this is usually best done at the Funeral Director’s facilities, if circumstances are such that it is requested this take place in the Church, this can be arranged with the clergy and Funeral Director. Generally, the viewing will be scheduled to conclude well before the commencement of the service.
There is no need for family members to arrive at the church early on the day of the funeral as seats will be reserved for the immediate family at the front of the Church. Many families like to gather in the Chapel prior to the service, and to be escorted into the church and to their reserved seats just prior to the commencement of the service.
These notes proceed in the usual order of each element of the funeral service, as determined by A Prayer Book for Australia 1995. References are made throughout to further resources available on this website to assist those preparing the service. Funerals and memorial services at St John’s normally follow the format described below, although there is considerable flexibility and the clergy are always willing to incorporate any special wishes of the deceased, and of those arranging the service. The Order of Service will be developed collaboratively between the clergy and the family.
BEFORE THE SERVICE
Music is played as the congregation arrive and gather. Those planning the funeral may select the preludes in consultation with their musicians music or the organist may play appropriate selections from their repertoire.
If desired, family members may place symbols on the casket as the service begins. These may be symbols of special relevance and importance to the deceased and / or Christian symbols such as a cross, a bible, a prayer book.
GATHERING & WELCOME
The clergy greet the congregation and welcome them.
A hymn may be sung.
For a collection of hymns, go to the music & hymns page.
One of the Psalms below, or another, is used. The Psalm may be said together by all, or read by one as a reading. The Psalm may also be sung (e.g. the hymn ‘The Lord’s my Shepherd’ is a version of the 23rd Psalm sung to the tune of Crimond).
(i) Psalm 23 (traditional)
(ii) from Psalm 90
(iii) Psalm 121
(iv) Psalm 139.1-11
One or more present may speak in honour of the deceased. The eulogy (from two Greek words meaning literally ‘good words’) might be described as a personal reminiscence of the deceased or a personal tribute to the life of the deceased. There are no rules or formula as to how a eulogy ought to be delivered or by whom. Frequently the details of the life of the deceased are rehearsed (i.e. birthplace and date, education, working life, family life, achievements). Anecdotes or stories are sometimes told. Memorable characteristics, personal traits, or significant events in the life of the deceased are often recounted. The total amount of time for all of the eulogies should be around 20 minutes.
There may be further readings at this point, from poems or passages other than the Bible. See the collection of poems and passages on the readings page.
REFLECTION (OR HYMN)
There may be a pause for reflection at this point; a piece of music may be performed by the organist or other musician/s; an anthem, aria or other musical item may be performed by a soloist or choir; or a hymn may be sung by all.
THE MINISTRY OF THE WORD
One or more readings from the Bible are read. A family member or friend may read the passage/s. Or the clergy may read. One or more of the passages below are especially suitable.
(i) Ecclesiastes 3.1-8
(ii) John 14.1-6
(iii) from 1 Corinthians 15
(iv) Revelation 21.1-7
THE HOMILY & PRAYERS
A brief address (the homily) is given by the clergy. The prayers are then led by the clergy.
The prayers conclude with the Lord’s Prayer said by all.
If it is the request of the deceased, or of those planning the service, Holy Communion (the Mass, Eucharist) may be included.
A hymn may be sung. For a collection of hymns, go to the music & hymns page.
The prayer of farewell is said by the clergy.
The committal is always part of the Christian funeral service and is said by the cleric leading the service, facing the coffin, with the congregation standing.
The committal takes place either –
1. In the Church, at this point of the service
2. Before the service at the graveside or crematorium
3. After the service at the graveside or crematorium
The Prayer of Committal
The service ends with the blessing, said by the clergy.
A piece of music is normally played as the congregation leave the church; this may be a piece played by the organist, or another.
An invitation to refreshments or to ‘the wake’ may be added.
St John’s Director of Music Dr Brett McKern is available to play the organ at funerals and memorial services in the church. Those arranging the service are invited to have as much input into the selection of the music and hymns as they wish to, and may also arrange for other musicians and vocalists to be involved, in consultation with St John’s.
There is normally music as the congregation gather (for approximately 15mins prior to the service commencing), and as the congregation leave (the postlude). There may also be a musical reflection during the service.
There may be one or more hymns (usually not more than three).
Click below to listen to our collection of hymns for the funeral service.
Some popular hymns
Praise, my soul, the King of Heaven
Dear Lord and Father of Mankind
‘And did those feet’ (Jerusalem)
Abide with me
I vow to thee my country
The Lord’s my shepherd
Guide me O thou great Jehovah
Eternal Father, strong to save
Immortal, invisible, God only wise
Be still my soul
Make me a channel of your peace
Thine be the glory
Solists and the Choir
St John’s has several excellent choirs. A choir, vocal soloist or instrumentalists may be engaged to lead the singing of hymns at the service and / or to provide musical items, anthems, or reflective pieces, as desired – in consultation with the Director of Music
The recessional music is the music played as the congregation leave the church at a funeral following the casket of the deceased. It is an important moment in the ceremony. Some examples:
March from ‘Scipio’ (Handel)
Largo from ‘Xerxes’ (Handel)
Nimrod from ‘Enigma variations’ (Elgar)
‘Sheep may safely graze’ (Bach)
Where the deceased served in the armed forces, the RSL rites may be included at an appropriate point in the service. Usually, a member of the RSL will lead this part of the service immediately prior to the committal. If the service is followed by a burial or cremation, the RSL rites will take place at the cemetery or crematorium. The church has no objection to national flags adorning the coffin and considers this entirely appropriate for a person who served their country in the armed forces.
Please contact the church office for current fees.