In Eastern and medieval Western practice, many Major Feast Days had “octaves” – eight days of celebration and observance.  None of these survive in the Prayer Book tradition today (nor really in modern Roman Catholicism for that matter), though echoes are found in our observance of the Baptism of Christ on the Sunday after the Epiphany and the usual practice of observing All Saints’ Day on the Sunday following when November 1st is a weekday.

Today is the “octave day” of All Souls’ Day – that is, a full week has passed since the commemoration of the faithful departed.  To my knowledge, there was never any such thing as an “All Souls’ Octave;” rather, All Saints’ Day was and is the primary celebration going on in early November.  But, just for kicks, sometimes it’s worth re-visiting recent commemorations, and doing so a week later is a convenient time for doing that.  I’m not proposing anything crazy or complicated; how about just grabbing the hymnal off the shelf and adding once of the Burial hymns to the Daily Office today?  The following came to mind:

Now the laborer’s task is o’er;
Now the battle day is past;
Now upon the farther shore
Lands the voyager at last.
Father, in thy gracious keeping
Leave we now thy servant sleeping.

There the tears of earth are dried;
There its hidden things are clear;
There the work of life is tried
By a juster judge than here.
Father, in thy gracious keeping
Leave we now thy servant sleeping.

There the penitents, that turn
To the cross their dying eyes,
All the love of Jesus learn
At his feet in paradise.
Father, in thy gracious keeping
Leave we now thy servant sleeping.

There no more the powers of hell
Can prevail to mar their peace;
Christ the Lord shall guard them well,
He who died for their release.
Father, in thy gracious keeping
Leave we now thy servant sleeping.

“Earth to earth, and dust to dust,”
Calmly now the words we say,
Left behind, we wait in trust
For the resurrection day.
Father, in thy gracious keeping
Leave we now thy servant sleeping. 
Amen.

On a practical, unrelated, note, it is wise for ministers to have the “occasional services” like the Burial Rite periodically refreshed in memory whether we have any planned or not.  These are events that can crop up suddenly without warning, and it is very helpful when ministers have the liturgical mindset behind those services intuitively grasped ahead of time!

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