Solemn or Low Mass set-up. (Verify color with clergy – either white, black, or purple.) The celebrant will wear a chasuble if it is a mass, otherwise, he will wear surplice and tippet. Provide extra stoles in the appropriate color for assisting clergy.
If the liturgy is a low mass, the chalice should be placed in the center of the altar on the unfolded corporal. The veil should be arranged neatly and the burse should be laid flat on the altar.

Lectionary on lectern – check lessons in service leaflet. They may not be in the lectionary. Use the Bible or ask office staff to print them up on the computer.

Service leaflets at sedilia, on the altar, in the clergy stalls.

Missal on the altar set for the Preface of the Dead. There is a separate version of the canon with the prayer for the departed already included.

Gospel book on table below credence or in crucifer’s stall.

Transfer the Sacrament to the High Altar and place the tabernacle veil on the Sacrament House.

Paschal candle at head of coffin or table for ashes.

If the body is present:

  • Pall for coffin (either white or purple)
  • Four bier lights and coffin stand

If the body has been cremated:

  • Two bier lights
  • Table covered with child’s pall and extra chalice veil for container with ashes

Aspersorium with Holy water

Thurible with lighted coals (be sure sextons have turned off fire alarm)

Light all candles and hanging lamps at least 15 minutes prior to the service.

Families often bring extra flowers. Be prepared to place them discreetly in visible places. Good places are the crossing, the floor in front of the table for the ashes, and the table at the back of the church by the guest book. Flower stands are behind reredos and in flower room.

Cloak, biretta, and container of earth at back of church if Cel is to accompany body to cemetery.

The festal brass cross is customarily used at funerals.

Determine if the All Saints’ Altar will be used for a communion station. If so, remove the dust cover and light the candles and lamp.
Prayer book for Cel and all assisting. The collect is NOT in the missal.

If the tailors are to be rung, the MC or appointed server must ring the altar gong, Sanctus bell in the fleche, or the hand carillon. Verify the correct times to ring during the canon.

Sextons should place service leaflets at the doorways. They may also move the cushion at the altar rail into place after the invitation to communion if there are no ushers. Count people attending before the service begins.

Check to see that the family or people requesting the funeral have arrived. It is a good idea to start just a few minutes late. Family members or friends may read a lesson. Show them the lectern and explain when they will get up to read. Remember that they are grieving and also may be unchurched. They may need prompting. If a friend or family member is to say a few words about the departed, they may do this either in place of the homily or after the post communion prayer and before the hymn. They will likewise need instruction.

The clergy and servers enter from Moseley Hall door. The body is received at the back of the church and covered with the pall. The celebrant may invite the people to stand for these prayers.

Cel begins to read the anthems, as Cr leads procession down the main aisle. Choir clergy follow Cr (and AA), Cel, (preceded by SMs and MC) and then pallbearers with the coffin.

Crucifer and choir clergy go to their stalls. AA, MC and SMs go to pavement to wait for Cel. Cel waits at bier until coffin is placed on stand, and then proceeds to pavement. MC cues ALL, including pallbearers to genuflect. MC and AA go to sedilia and credence.

Cel goes to footpace, kisses the altar, turns to congregation for salutation, goes to epistle horn and reads collect. Cel then goes to sedilia.


Cel may lead the liturgy of the word from the choir and go to altar at the offertory.

The person appointed reads the first lesson.

The psalm or hymn is then led by Cel or assisting person.

Second lesson if appointed.

Psalm or hymn.

During the last verse of this hymn, the Gospeler and the person appointed to hold the book make a procession to the choir steps. Be careful not to take up position until the person reading the second lesson has returned to the choir. The person with the book stands down one step and faces east. The Gospeler reads the Gospel in the customary manner.

The Sermon is often preached from same place. The Creed and prayers may be led from this position also.

The Apostles’ Creed, intercessions for the departed, (and Confession of Sin) may also be led from the foot of the altar steps.
Offertory Hymn. Cel and assisting clergy move to the altar in correct processional order, line up at the foot of the steps and genuflect. Cel will normally go directly to the footpace while assisting clergy take up position on either side of the altar. MC will need to place kneeling cushions for them. AA bring up the flagon, ciborium and water cruet at this time. An assisting priest may assist with preparing the table. AA assist at the lavabo as usual.

Canon of the mass (Preface of the Dead) Interpolation in the canon.

The peace is said as the fraction anthem.

Agnus Dei – grant them rest/rest everlasting.

If there are no ushers, MC or the A not needed to assist with the chalice must move center cushion at the communion rail. MC appoints a server to count communions. Servers licensed to administer the chalice will be needed if there are not enough clergy.
As soon as communion starts, the thurifer goes to the smoke sacristy to prepare the thurible. There are usually a small number of communions, so there is not much time. It may be wise to light some coals before the service and just add an additional one at this time. The thurifer may need to be communicated after the service. The MC is responsible for asking the celebrant or assisting priest to do this.

The ablutions take place as usual. If there is no SD an A brings the cruet to the altar, pours water into the vessels, and cleanses the Cel’s fingers. If there is only one server, he or she may need to make two trips. Cel or MC may move book to epistle horn for the post-communion prayer.

Proper post-communion prayer.

Hymn, during which Cel, MC (AA, SMs) line up at foot of altar steps. Server enters with lighted thurible and joins line up. MC brings aspersorium. After laying on, they genuflect on MC’s cue, turn, and led by thurifer, proceed in ceremonial order to east end of choir. CEL in center, thurifer on side closest to smoke sacristy and MC to other side. Other assisting clergy may take places in front of choir stalls. AA stand at west end of choir in front of clergy stalls and face across until joined by crucifer. If there is a crucifer in addition to the thurifer, s/he moves to the west end of the bier after the commendation is said.

At conclusion of hymn, Cel walks around coffin counter-clockwise, sprinkling with holy water, then hands off aspersorium, takes thurible and repeats circuit around coffin, while censing. (ALL say the Lord’s Prayer softly during censing.) If there are ashes only, Cel may remain on the east side of the table and sprinkle from that position. Cel walks around table for censing.

Commendation follows as in BCP. Servers join in saying antiphon.

At conclusion of commendation, thurifer returns thurible to smoke sacristy, and then takes up cross and stands at west end of choir. This is the cue for the person in the tower to begin ringing the tailors. There will be a pause while the bell gains momentum.
Nine tailors, (or six, or three) is rung.

Upon conclusion, Cel bids people to go forth in peace. Cr turns and leads altar party down to floor of nave, where ALL turn and wait for pallbearers to retrieve coffin. ALL genuflect with palbearers.

When pallbearers are ready, Cel begins reading anthems, and ALL turn and exit church the long way, led by Cr.
ALL go to hearse, and wait until body is placed within and door is shut.

Cel may accompany body to cemetery. Black cloak, biretta, and container of earth should be ready at back of church.


These notes may be used in combination with the above notes, or used alone in the case of a requiem or memorial service without the body present.

In this parish, it is customary to use the term requiem to refer to a mass celebrated with black vestments. If the color is white, it is called a Mass of the Resurrection.

If the color of the mass is white, flowers are appropriate, and all the ritual follows custom, with torches carried and incense used at entrance, Gospel and offertory.

If the color of the mass is black flowers are not appropriate. Incense is used only at the offertory and only the celebrant is censed. Acolytes carry torches at the entrance and exit only, but not at the Gospel.

The flagon and ciborium are placed at the credence.

The American Missal is used for this mass. The text for the canon with the interpolation may be placed in the Altar Book instead if desired. The collect is not in the Altar Book, so a service leaflet must be placed on the altar or the collect placed in the Altar Book.
If required by the musical setting, the MC places a note in the missal reminding Cel to wait for the singing of the Pie Jesu after the Great Amen and before the Pater Noster.


ALL enter the short way via the north door (thurifer enters without thurible and follows verger.)

ALL lineup at foot of altar steps and genuflect on MC’s cue as usual.

SMs go to footpace and kiss altar, and then immediately go into center “I” formation and turn right and form slanted “I” formation for Introit, Collect for Purity and Summary of the Law. SMs then turn left and move to center for Kyrie. At conclusion of Kyrie, SMs split into open “I” for salutation and move to epistle horn as usual for collect(s). (Depending upon the musical setting, the Introit and Kyrie may be one movement. The intervening portions of the mass are then omitted. SMs kiss the altar and D and SD go into place behind the celebrant as at the end of the Gloria. They remain in this position through the end of the Kyrie.)

Since there are usually only two lessons, the subdeacon will go immediately to center, genuflect and go to lectern to read. ALL remain seated for the singing of the Gradual and Tract.

If the Dies Irae is to be sung, the SD returns to the altar and moves the book, and then returns by the epistle horn to the sedilia to await the MC’s cue to move. At the appropriate point, (usually Libera me, Domine, or Worthless are my tears and sighing), MC cues ALL to stand, A1, without candle, leads out SD, D, MC, A2, without candle. MC cues ALL to genuflect, and Gospel procession is as usual, except without thurifer and censing.

The Sermon may be preached from the pulpit.

The Apostles’ Creed follows, as is proper for Requiem Masses.

Intercessions for the departed, followed by the confession of sin.

The celebrant may make announcements after the absolution.

At the offertory, D takes chalice to altar and sets table as per custom. When finished, D steps to usual position at altar, (right of center) and Cel and SD go to center, genuflect and ascend steps. SD goes behind Cel to epistle horn to be met by AAs with ciborium of people’s wafers, flagon of wine and cruet of water. SD takes ciborium and hands it to D, who hands it to Cel. SD takes flagon, places it on altar, and takes cruet for commixture. D then places pours wine into the chalice and places flagon on corporal. SD returns cruet to A, bows to AAs, and returns to Cel’s left. AAs return to credence together.

Thurifer enters with thurible containing lighted coals, genuflects at center, and proceeds to footpace by epistle horn for laying on. TH hands thurible to Cel and goes to sedilia.

The elements, cross and altar are censed as usual, except that after Cel is censed, D and SD are not censed. ALL take positions for beginning of canon.

The canon proceeds as usual (preface for the departed). If it is to be sung, the Pie Jesu follows the Great Amen and precedes the Lord’s Prayer.

Instead of the Pascha nostrum, the fraction anthem is “the Peace.”.

In the Agnus Dei, the words “have mercy upon us” are changed to “grant them rest”, and the final line is “grant them rest everlasting.”

In some musical settings, the Communion sentence follows immediately on the Agnus Dei. The Invitation to communion is given after the sentence has been sung.

There is a proper post-communion prayer, and then the blessing, which may be omitted. The CEL, facing the people, says, “May they rest in peace,” to which the people respond, “Amen.” There is no dismissal. The altar party lines up at the steps, genuflects on MC’s cue and turns to leave the short way via processional door.


It is possible to celebrate the funeral liturgy using an MC, thurifer, and two AA. The thurifer may act as crucifer at the entrance and exit. The AA may attend the Gospeler, with or without torches, as appropriate. The thurifer may hold the book at the Gospel, or, if incense is used at this point, the MC will hold the book.

If the altar is to be censed at the offertory, an assisting priest and the thurifer will hold the edges of the chasuble, while the MC removes the missal and stand.. If there is no assisting priest, an A and thurifer hold the chasuble.

AA stand with crucifer at coffin. They accompany crucifer during entrance and exit processions.

Further variations are possible depending upon servers available. A crucifer, additional chalice ministers, and torches may be added as appropriate. There is usually not a collection or offertory procession at a funeral, however. CMs are necessary only if there are insufficient clergy. In cases of necessity, the celebrant may assign an unlicensed person to administer the chalice, but this should be avoided.