A Service for the Time of Passage through Death to Life

March 2nd, 2020

Pastors, family members, and friends may use this service when a loved one is dying. Prayers anchored in tradition have power to carry us in difficult moments. This service uses familiar words of comfort like the 23rd Psalm, Psalm 31:5 and Simeon's Song (Luke 2:29-32). It can also be used at the time of death, or when there is need for a memorial other than a Service of Death and Resurrection (The United Methodist Hymnal, 870).

This resource is ©2020 by The Order of Saint Luke. Adapted from A Lukan Book of Feasts and Holy Days, OSL Publications, 2017. Permission granted for reproduction in print or on the web by including this permission statement. If you find this resource helpful, you may wish to order a copy from Amazon or directly from oslpublications@gmail.com. A PDF download of this text is available below.

We believe that death is not an end but a transition, a passage through death to Life. This service [1] is a marker on our pilgrimage, a journey we make in solidarity with our brothers and sisters.  As John Wesley observed on his death bed, The best of all is this: God is with us. To which we add: Our brothers and sisters are with us, too.

This service may be used in three different ways:

(1) prior to death as a sending forth (components of the service used only in this way are marked with a P),

(2) just after the time of death as a committal of our brother or sister to God (components of the service relevant to this use are marked with a D), or

(3) when commemorating the death of a member (components of the service relevant to this use are marked with an M)

Those parts of the service which are not marked are included in all three of the options above.



 O God, come to our assistance.

     O Lord, hasten to help us.

Glory to the holy and blessed Trinity
who is now, ever was, and every shall be for endless ages.


Hear these words of Holy Scripture:

Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil for you are with me,
Your rod and staff comfort me.
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. 

If we live, we live to the Lord,
and if we die, we die to the Lord.
Whether therefore we live or die,
we belong to the Lord. 

Blessed be the God of our Lord Jesus Christ,
by whose great mercy we have been born anew to a living hope
by the resurrection of Jesus Christ form the dead.[2]

[P/D] [Here the sign of the cross with oil may be made on the forehead of the person with the words:  “Remember that you were sealed by the Holy Spirit at your baptism and marked as Christ’s own forever” or, in the case of one who has died: “You were sealed by the Holy Spirit at your baptism and marked as Christ’s own forever.]  [3]


The Holy One be with you.
     And also with you.
Let us pray:
Jesus, Lamb of God,
     have mercy on us.
Jesus, Lamb of God,
     have mercy on us.
Jesus, redeemer of the world,
     grant us your peace. [4]

O Lord, support us all the day long of this troublous life, until the shadows lengthen and the evening comes, and the busy world is hushed, and the fever of life is over, and our work is done. Then in your mercy, grant us a safe lodging, and a holy rest, and peace at the last. Amen.

— (John Henry Newman, 1801-90)

[P] [At the bedside of one who is dying, the reserved sacrament may be shared with all present, or a brief service of Holy Communion may take place.]

[M] [At a memorial celebration]:

  • a) Witness is given about each life whose transition is being celebrated.

  • b) After each time of witness, the presider says: “May his/her soul, and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace,” to which the community responds: “Merciful God, we thank you for this witness of faith and service.”

  • c) At the conclusion of this time of naming, the presider says: “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord and their works do follow them,” to which the community responds, “Amen.


In peace we will lie down and sleep.

In the Lord alone we safely rest.

Guide us waking, O Lord, and guard us sleeping,

that awake we may watch with Christ,
and asleep we may rest in peace.

May the divine help remain with us always.

And with those who are absent from us.

     - silence -

Into your hands, O Lord,
we commend the spirit of our Brother/Sister N or our Brother(s) and Sister(s)

For you have redeemed us, O Lord,
O God of Truth.

— (Sarum Breviary, Ps. 4:8 and 30:5, adapted)

Receive him/her/them into the arms of your mercy,
     into the blessed rest of eternal peace,
     and into the glorious company of the saints in light.


Canticle of Simeon (The Nunc Dimittis; Luke 2:29-32)

(Spoken or sung in unison to Psalm Tone One, United Methodist Hymnal, 737)

Lord, you have now set your servant free
     to go in peace as you have promised;

for these eyes of mine have seen the Savior,
     Whom you have prepared for all the world to see.

A Light to enlighten the nations,
     And the glory of your people Israel.

     Glory to you, O Trinity, most holy and blessed,
     One God, now and for-ever. A-men.

[P/D] [Here the person whose transition is being celebrated, or in the case of recent death, the body of the same, may be anointed with oil in the name of the holy and blessed Trinity, and the following benediction be accompanied with the laying on of hands.)



The holy and blessed Trinity + bless you and keep you.
The face of God shine on you and be gracious to you.
God look on you with kindness and give you peace. [5] 


The holy and blessed Trinity + bless us and keep us.
The face of God shine on us and be gracious to us.
God look on us with kindness and give us peace. [6] 


Let us bless the Lord.
     Thanks be to God.

May the souls of the faithful departed,
through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

[1] Adapted from The Book of Offices and Services of the Order of Saint Luke, copyright ©2012 by the Order of Saint Luke. Used with permission. This material may be used for individual, domestic, or congregational worship and for educational purposes by including the following credit line and copyright notice: Adaptation ©2020 by The Order of Saint Luke; based on The Book of Offices and Services of The Order of Saint Luke, copyright  ©2012 by the Order of Saint Luke. Used with permission.

[2] Adapted from Psalm 23, Romans 1:4-8, and I Peter 1:3 as used by A New Zealand Prayer Book.

[3] The Book of Common Prayer 1979, alt.

[4] The Agnus Dei, as found in The Book of Common Prayer 1979.

[5] Adapted from Numbers 6:24-26.

[6] Adapted from Numbers 6:24-26.

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