An Orthodox Funeral is ingrained with traditions and beliefs of the Orthodox Church. With the readings, prayers and hymns included in the service, the ceremony demonstrates how Orthodox theology contributes to a healthy perspective of life and death.
Psalm 119 (LXX 118)
The Orthodox Funeral service begins with chanting verses from Psalm 119 (LXX 118) in three stanzas. A small litany, with petitions for the departed, is said following the first stanza and in the case that more than one priest is officiating, the litany is said after each stanza.
Blessings for the deceased are expressed in Evlogetaria, meaning “hymns of praise”. The hymns highlights the deep theological content of the Orthodox faith, and are chanted in a solemn tone. In the case of Orthodox funerals, two additional blessings, Evlogetaria, are included for each member of the clergy present.
Kontakion and Hymns in each of the Eight Tones
The Kontakion of the funeral service is a hymn that asks assurance that the deceased’s soul is with “no pain, nor sorrow, nor suffering, but life everlasting”. Following this, Idiomela are chanted. The eight hymns differ in melody and and sung in order of the eight modes of Byzatine chant. The different hymns express mixed emotions of grief and consolation associated with the loss of a loved one.
Two scripture lessons are incorporated in the service to emphasise the Church’s belief in the benefits of the resurrection of our body on the last day and the promise of truth and immortality, which is believed to derive from the reality of Christ’s death and resurrection. Typically, the lessons would come from the Apostolos and another from the Evangelion.
Prayers and Dismissal
The small litany that accompanied the verses Psalms 119 earlier are then repeated, and the priest facilitating the service offers a prayer for the repose of the deceased. The Dismissal prayer reintroduces the hope of resurrection for the deceased, and the priests calls upon prayers of holy figures to grant rest for the deceased.
The Kiss of Peace and the anointing of the body
Following the offering of final greetings by attendees, the facilitating priest anoints the body while reciting passages from Psalm and Genesis to purify the deceased.