Every priest has the full Office for the Dead in his breviary, and for that reason, and also because the Office is practically never said at funerals in the U.S., only Vespers is given here, along with appropriate readings from Sacred Scripture and some prayers for the faithful departed.  As all of these are eminently suited for a wake, a priest may want to use them at least one night, particularly the night before the funeral; or he may read the scriptural parts after the rosary service.  The psalms appointed for Vespers are in general festive and joyous, thus sounding the note of Christian faith, hope, and confidence that characterizes the Church’s attitude toward death. A musical setting for the antiphons, psalms, and the Magnificat is provided in the music supplement.


P: Ant. I shall please the Lord * in the lands of the living.

Psalm 114

P: I love the Lord because He has heard * my voice in supplication.
All: Because He has inclined His ear to me * the day I called.
P: The cords of death encompassed me; the snares of the nether world seized upon me; *  
    I fell into distress and sorrow,
All: And I called upon the name of the Lord, * “O Lord, save my life!”
P: Gracious is the Lord and just; * yes, our God is merciful.
All: The Lord keeps the little ones; * I was brought low, and He saved me.
P: Return, O my soul, to your tranquillity, * for the Lord has been good to you.
All: For He has freed my soul from death, * my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling.
P: I shall walk before the Lord * in the lands of the living.
All: Lord, grant him (her) eternal rest.
P: And let perpetual light shine upon him (her).
All: Ant. I shall please the Lord * in the lands of the living.
P: Ant. Woe is me, O Lord, * that my sojourn is prolonged.

Psalm 119

P: In my distress I called to the Lord,    * and He answered me.
All: Lord, deliver me from lying lip, * from treacherous tongue.
P: What will He inflict on you, with more besides, * O treacherous tongue?
All: Sharp arrows of a warrior * with fiery coals of brushwood.
P: Woe is me that I sojourn in Mosoch, * that I dwell amid the tents of Cedar!
All: All too long have I dwelt * with those who hate peace.
P: When I speak of peace, * they are ready for war.
All: Lord, grant him (her) eternal rest.
P: And let perpetual light shine upon him (her).
All: Ant. Woe is me, O Lord, * that my sojourn is prolonged.
P: Ant. The Lord guards you from all evil; * may the Lord guard your life.

Psalm 120

P: I lift up my eyes toward the mountains; * whence shall help come to me?
All: My help is from the Lord, * who made heaven and earth.
P: May He not suffer your foot to slip; * may He not slumber who guards you;
All: Indeed He neither slumbers nor sleeps, * the guardian of Israel.
P: The Lord is your guardian; * the Lord is your shade;
    He is beside you at your right hand.
All: The sun shall not harm you by day, * nor the moon by night.
P: The Lord will guard you from all evil; * He will guard your life.
All: The Lord will guard your coming and your going, * both now and forever.
P: Lord, grant him (her) eternal rest.
All: And let perpetual light shine upon him (her).
All: Ant. The Lord guards you from all evil; * may the Lord guard your life.
P: Ant. If you, Lord, mark iniquities, * Lord, who can stand.

Psalm 129
(see p. 351 for this psalm)

After psalm 129:
All: Ant. If you, Lord, mark iniquities, * Lord, who can stand?
P: Ant. Forsake not * the work of your hands, O ord.

Psalm 137

P: I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart, *
    for you have heard the words of my mouth;
All: In the presence of the angels I will sing your praise; *
    I will worship at your holy temple.
P: And give thanks to your name, * because of your kindness and your truth.
All: For you have made great above all things * your name and your promise.
P: When I called, you answered me; * you built up strength within me.
All: All the kings of the earth shall give thanks to you, Lord, *
    when they hear the words of your mouth;
P: And they shall sing of the ways of the Lord: * “Great is the glory of the Lord.”
All: The Lord is exalted, yet the lowly He sees, * and the proud He knows from afar.
P: Though I walk amid distress, you preserve me;
    against the anger of my enemies you raise your hand; * your right hand saves me.
All: The Lord will complete what He has done for me;  
    your kindness, Lord, endures forever; * forsake not the work of your hands.
P: Lord, grant him (her) eternal rest.
All: And let perpetual light shine upon him (her).
All: Ant. Forsake not * the work of your hands, O Lord.

Antiphon for the Magnificat;
P: Only one whom the Father entrusts to me will come to me; *
    and when anyone comes to me, I will certainly not reject him.

Canticle of the Magnificat (Luke 1.46-55)

P: “My soul * extols the Lord;
All: And my spirit leaps for joy * in God, my Savior.
P: How graciously He looked upon His lowly maid. *
    Oh, see, from this hour onward age after age will call me blessed!
All: How sublime is what He has done for me * the Mighty One, whose name is ‘Holy.’
P: From age to age He visits those * who worship Him in reverence.
All: His arm achieves the mastery; * He routs the haughty and proud of heart;
P: He puts down princes from their thrones, * and exalts the lowly;
All: He fills the hungry with blessings, * and sends away the rich with empty hands.
P: He has taken by the hand His servant, Israel, * and mercifully kept His faith,
All: As He had promised our fathers *
    with Abraham and his posterity forever and evermore.”
P: Lord, grant him (her) eternal rest.
All: And let perpetual light shine upon him (her).
All: Ant. Only one whom the Father entrusts to me will come to me; *
    and when anyone comes to me, I will certainly not reject him.

P: Our Father  the rest inaudibly until:
P: And lead us not into temptation.
All: But deliver us from evil.
P: From the gates of hell.
All: Deliver his (her) soul, O Lord.
P: May he (she) rest in peace.
All: Amen.
P; Lord, heed my prayer.
All: And let my cry be heard by you.
P: The Lord be with you.
All: May he also be with you.
Let us pray.
We entreat you, O Lord, to grant full pardon to the soul of your servant, N., that having died to the world he (she) may live only for you; and in your all loving mercy blot out the sins he (she) has committed during life through human frailty. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, forever and ever.
All: Amen.

Or in place of the above one may substitute the prayer given on 359, and then add any of those on pp. 359-61.  The concluding verses are always said in the plural:

P: Lord, grant them eternal rest.
All: And let perpetual light shine upon them.
P: May they rest in peace.
All: Amen.

Lesson From the Book of Job
7.16-21; 14.1-6; 17.1-3, 11-15; 19.20-27

    Spare me, Lord, for my days are but a breath. What is man, that you make much of him, or pay him any heed? You observe him with each new day and try him at every moment. How long will it be before you look away from me, and let me alone long enough to swallow my spittle?  Though I have sinned, what can I do to you, O watcher of men? Why have you set me up against you; or why should I be a burden to myself?  Why do you not pardon my offense, or take away my guilt?  For soon I shall lie down in the dust; and should you seek me in the morning, I shall be gone.
    Man, born of woman, is shortlived and full of trouble.  Like a flower he springs up and fades; he flees like a shadow, and never continues in the same state.  Upon such a one will you cast your eyes so as to bring him into judgment with you?  Who can make clean one that is conceived of unclean seed?  Who but you alone?  Short are the days of man.  You know the number of his months; you have fixed the limit which he cannot pass.  Look away from him and let him be, while like a hireling he completes his day.
    My spirit is broken, my lamp of life extinguished; my burial is at hand.  I have not sinned, and my eye rests on bitter sights.  Deliver me, Lord, and set me beside you, and it matters not whose hand fights against me.  My days are passed away, my plans are at an end, leaving my heart tormented.  Such men change the night into day; and after darkness I hope for light again.  If I wait, the nether world is my dwelling, and I have spread my couch in the darkness.  I have called corruption “my father,” and the maggot, “my mother” and “my sister.”  Where then is my hope, and who is concerned about my patience?
    The flesh has been consumed, and my bones cleave to my skin, and nothing but lips are left about my teeth.  Pity me, pity me, at least you my friends, for the hand of God has struck me!  Why do you hound me as though you were divine, and insatiably prey upon me?  Who will see to it that my words are written down?  Who will do me the favor of inscribing them in a record, engraving them with an iron chisel in a plate of lead or cutting them in stone?  But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and that on the last day I shall rise out of the earth and be clothed again with my skin, and in my flesh I shall see my God.  It will not be some other being, but I myself who see Him; my own eyes shall look upon Him.  This my hope lies deep in my heart.

Lesson From St. Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians
15.12 ff

    If what is preached about Christ is that He was raised from the dead, how is it that some of you say there is no resurrection from the dead?  If there is no resurrection from the dead, Christ was not raised.  If Christ was not raised, then there is nothing to our preaching, there is nothing to your faith.  Further, it is discovered that we are guilty of misrepresenting God, because we testified that God raised Christ when He did not raise Him, if it is true that the dead are not raised.  If the dead are not raised, Christ has not been raised.  But if Christ has not been raised, your faith is groundless; you are still in your sins.  It follows also that those who have fallen asleep in death in Christ are lost.  If in view merely of this present life we have nothing but hope in Christ, we are more to be pitied than all other men.
    But Christ has been truly raised from the dead.  He is the first fruits of those that have fallen asleep in death, because since man is the cause of death, so man is the cause of the resurrection from the dead. Just as in Adam all men die, so too in Christ all men are brought to life.
    But someone will ask, “How can the dead be raised? With what kind of body will they come back?”  Senseless man!  What you sow is not brought to life unless it dies. And when you sow, you do not sow the body that is to be, but a bare grain, perhaps of wheat or something else.... It is the same with the resurrection of the dead.  What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable.  What is sown is sordid; what is raised is glorious.  What is sown is weak; what is raised is mighty.  The body sown is natural; the body raised is glorified.  As surely as there is a natural body, so surely is there a glorified body.
    But I affirm this, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, any more than what is perishable can inherit what is imperishable.  Here I tell you a mystery.  We shall not all fall asleep in death, but we shall all be changed.  In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet call, when the trumpet sounds, then the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.  Because this perishable nature of ours is destined to be clothed in imperishable glory, and this mortal nature of ours must be clothed in immortality.  When this perishable nature is clothed in imperishable glory, and this mortal nature is clothed in immortality, then will be realized the words of Scripture, “Death is swallowed up in victory.  O Death, where is your victory?  O Death, where is your sting?”  Death’s sting comes from sin; sin’s force comes from the Law.  But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Holy Gospel According to St. John
11.11 ff

    At that time Jesus said to His disciples: “Lazarus, our friend has fallen asleep. Well, then, I will go and wake him from his sleep.”  “Master,” the disciples said to Him, “if he has fallen asleep, he will be all right.”  But Jesus had spoken of his death, whereas they imagined he had referred to the restfulness of sleep.  Jesus now told them plainly: “Lazarus is dead.  For your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe.  Come now; let us go to him.” … When Jesus arrived, He found that Lazarus had already been four days in the tomb.  Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles away; and many Jews had called on Martha and Mary to express their sympathy with them in the loss of their brother.
    As soon as Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went to meet Him, while Mary remained at home.  Martha said to Jesus: “Master, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.  And even now I know that whatever you ask of God, God will grant you.”  Jesus replied: “Your brother will rise again.”  “I know,” Martha said to Him, “he will rise again at the resurrection on the last day.”  Jesus said to her: “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me will live even if he dies; and no one that lives and believes in me shall be dead forever.  Do you believe this?”  “Yes, Master,” she replied; “I firmly believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who was to come into the world.”
    With this, she returned and called her sister Mary privately.  “The Master is here and asks for you,” she said.  As soon as Mary heard this, she rose quickly and went to meet Him.  Jesus had not yet entered the village, but was still at the spot where Martha had gone to meet Him.  Then the Jews who were with her in the house to offer their sympathy, on seeing Mary rise hurriedly and go out, followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb, there to give vent to her tears.  When Mary came where Jesus was, she threw herself down at His feet as soon as she saw Him, and said to Him: “Master, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”  She was weeping; and weeping, too, were the Jews who accompanied her.  The sight of them stirred Jesus deeply and shook His inmost soul.  “Where have you laid him to rest?” Jesus asked.  “Come, and see, Master,” they replied.  Jesus burst into tears; and the Jews remarked: “Look, how dearly He loved him.”  But some of them said: “He opened the eyes of the blind man; was He not able to prevent this man’s death?”
Then Jesus, His inmost soul shaken again, made His way to the tomb.  It was a cave, and a stone lay against the entrance. “Remove the stone,” Jesus said.  Martha, the dead man’s sister, said to Him, “Master, his body stinks by this time; he has been dead four days.”  Jesus replied, “Did I not tell you that, if you have faith, you will see the glory of God?”  So they removed the stone.  Then Jesus lifted up His eyes and said: “Father, I thank you for listening to me.  For myself, I knew that you always hear me; but I said it for the sake of the people surrounding me, that they might believe that I am your ambassador.”
    Having said this, He cried out in a strong voice: “Lazarus, come forth!”  And he who had been dead came forth, wrapped hand and foot with bands, and his face muffled with a scarf.  Jesus said to them: “Unwrap him and let him go.”  Now many of the Jews – those who had called on Mary and witnessed what He did – believed in Him.  Some of them, however, went to see the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done.  Thereupon the chief priests and the Pharisees convened a meeting of the Supreme Council.  “This man,” they urged, “is giving many proofs of power.  What, then, are we to do?  If we let him go without interference, all the world will believe in Him; and then the Romans will come and put an end to our rank and race alike.” … On that day, accordingly, they passed a resolution to put Him to death.

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