ALL SAINTS' TIDE
The period around All Saints' Day directs the thoughts of Christians towards 'the
communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins and the life everlasting'. We have
included provision for this season in The Promise of his Glory
, partly for the practical reason that it falls within the period of the year we are
covering and has implications for the calendar in the pre-Advent period, but mainly
because there is an important theological connection between our celebration of the
saints and our reflection on God's Judgement on us. In other words, All Saints' and Advent
belong together, and the one informs the other.
While many people think of the saints as examples of 'virtuous and godly living',
this hardly does justice to the biblical insight that in our pilgrimage through this
world 'we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses'. Sanctity is not so much
about hero-worship as about accessibility; the saints are the real men and women of
every age in whose lives we can glimpse heaven in our midst. They are our partners
Before thy throne we daily meet
As joint-petitioners to thee;
In spirit each the other greet,
And shall again each other see.
But there is a dark side to our standing before the throne of God. While we are called
to be saints, we know ourselves to be sinners. We have tried to build on that and
to make All Saints' Day the turning point from the 'green season' of Pentecost to
the darker mood of the Commemoration of the Faithful Departed on 2 November, and the
month that follows. In November there are a number of commemorations, of which Remembrance
Sunday is the most obvious, which combine with the natural feeling of autumn days
to focus on a sense of the coming end. By linking All Saints-tide with Advent through
the provision made for the Sundays of the Kingdom in Chapter IV, we have continued
the theme of All Saints and the Commemoration of the Faithful Departed. By this means
there is a natural move from a season of reflection on the Church in time to one meditating
on the Church's destiny in eternity.
The Calendar for this period is set out in Chapter I, with the suggestion that the
last Sunday in October (which the ASB calendar calls The Ninth Sunday Before Christmas)
be kept as the Dedication Festival unless a particular date is known, or else, following the Lutheran tradition, as Reformation Sunday, with particular thanksgiving for
the Bible as the word of God. *** All Saints' Day may be kept on the Sunday following
if it is transferred from 1 November, or the first Sunday in November may be kept
as a Sunday in All Saints- tide. The remaining Sundays in November, of which Remembrance
Sunday is the first, are designated Sundays of the Kingdom, linking All Saints-tide
to Advent proper.
The principal service for All Saints-tide is the Eucharist of All Saints' Day, whether
kept on 1 November or the first Sunday in November. Although there is seasonal material
for use at many points in the service, the only structural change from Holy Communion Rite A is in the position of the penitential section. Biblical acclamations
lead into the Gloria at the beginning, making that an inappropriate place for the
Confession, and the special Intercession leads without interruption into the Peace,
making the Confession inappropriate at that point also. The rite allows for the omission
of the Prayers of Penitence entirely on this day but, for those who wish to retain
them, two places are suggested, either as a preparation before the rite begins or
before the Prayers of Intercession.
There is also provision for the Eucharist on 2 November, The Commemoration of the
Faithful Departed. There are those who are reticent about having a separate Commemoration
of the Faithful Departed on the day after All Saints' Day, and there is indeed a
danger if the dead are placed in supposedly neat categories. The All Saints' Day collect
affirms that God has knit together his elect 'into one communion and fellowship'.
Nevertheless, psychologically and liturgically, there is a need for a day that is
seen to be about our own departed, rather than the heroes of the faith, and that acknowledges
human grief and fragility in a way that would hardly find a place when we celebrate
the triumphs of the great ones on All Saints' Day.
For this reason a Eucharist for the Commemoration of the Faithful Departed has been
included. This is the context in which the unity of the living and the departed
in the body of the risen Christ is both celebrated and proclaimed, and while we are
sensitive to the theological difficulties that some have in relation to prayer for the Christian
dead, we have provided words and options that will enable everyone to use this service
with a good conscience. We have also tried to hold in a proper balance the confident proclamation of the Easter faith and the sobering reality of death and judgement
that brings us to our knees before the majesty of God, whose grace alone can save.
The distinctive feature of the rite is a Commemoration, which is placed immediately
after the Distribution of Communion (although we allow it at an earlier point).
Here there is provision for names to be read (and perhaps candles might be lit by
members of the congregation.) The Commemoration is placed here to emphasise our union with
the departed within the body of Christ: as we feed on his broken body, so we are
made one by his risen life.
Here is an opportunity for those who have been bereaved in the previous year
to remember their departed family and friends in prayer.
Conscious that a eucharistic setting will not always be appropriate in ministry to
the bereaved, we have provided another form for this season, a service of Word and
Prayer. In addition to its use at All Saints-tide, it provides a structure for use
at other times of the year, when there is a need for a non-sacramental form of commemoration.
In particular it provides an outline for a Memorial Service.
For many twentieth-century Christians the All Saints-tide period is extended to include
Remembrance Sunday. In the Calendar and Lectionary we have sought to make it easier
to observe this without cutting across a developing lectionary pattern, and we have reprinted the form of service approved ecumenically for use on that day.
As an alternative, the provision for the Commemoration of the Faithful Departed may
be suitable for use on Remembrance Sunday.