The eschatological themes of Advent have traditionally been summarised under the title: The Four Last Things -- Death, Judgement, Heaven and Hell. Our Calendar and Lectionary proposals (see Introductory Outline and Appendix) make it possible for these themes to be treated at any time between the First Sunday of the Kingdom and the Second Sunday in Advent, thus avoiding the last two Sundays before Christmas with their incarnation and annunciation themes. While the readings provided on those Sundays signal some treatment of the Four Last Things, there should be provision for particular liturgies which highlight them.

We offer here the outline of such a liturgy. It is modelled on the form of a Vigil, but it may be adapted to the form of Ante-communion, or the Office, or it may be combined with the Eucharist, or shaped to make a Service of Penitence.


  1. If it is desired to combine this service with the Holy Communion, it may end at section 9 and the Holy Communion begin immediately at the Peace.
  2. At a Service of Penitence the service is used as far as section 6. Then follows an Act of Penitence (sections 7 and 8 or Appendix B), suitable prayers, and the conclusion (sections 10 and 11).
  3. Hymns may be sung at any suitable point.



  1. The Book of the Gospels is brought into the church and placed on the holy table or a reading desk.
  2. The minister greets the people

    Blessed be God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
    And blessed be his kingdom, now and for ever. Amen.


    Grace and peace from God our Father
    and the Lord Jesus Christ.
    And also with you.

  3. The minister addresses the people in these or similar words:

    In Advent we look forward. We rekindle the eager hope and fear with which the Old Testament prophets looked forward to the coming of the promised Messiah; we prepare ourselves to celebrate his birth at Christmas.

    When the Lord Christ came to live among us, he taught us to look forward to the hour when we shall each be called from this world through death: the crowning point of every life, when we appear before him for judgement.

    He taught us also, and above all, to see our lives in his divine perspective, to long for the day when he will come again, the point beyond which all looking forward will cease, for time will have come to an end. Then all will be united and perfected in heaven, save what has been lost to hell.

    Today let us meditate on these four last things: death, judgement, heaven and hell. Let us examine our preparation for death and eternal life, in order that we may be strengthened in hope, moved to thank God for his grace, and inspired to deeper penitence and greater love.

  4. THIS RESPONSORY, or one from Chapter VII (11-14) is used:

    Let us call on God's loving mercy:

    Turn to us again, O God our Saviour,
    and let your anger cease from us:

    Lord have mercy.
    Lord have mercy.

    Show us your mercy, O Lord,
    and grant us your salvation:

    Christ have mercy.
    Christ have mercy.

    Your salvation is near for those who fear you,
    that glory may dwell within our land:

    Lord have mercy.
    Lord have mercy.

  5. Stir up your power, Lord,
    and with great might come among us;
    and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins,
    let your bountiful grace speedily help and deliver us;
    through Jesus Christ our Lord,
    who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
    one God, now and for ever. Amen.


    Grant us, Lord,
    the wisdom and the grace to use aright
    the time that is left to us here on earth.
    Lead us to repent of our sins,
    the evil we have done and the good we have not done;
    and strengthen us to follow the steps of your Son,
    in the way that leads to the fullness of eternal life;
    through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


  6. Readings, together with psalms, canticles and hymns and prayers are used as required. The final reading is from the Gospels. Silence should be kept after each reading, and then follows the psalm, biddings and prayer. A sermon may be preached.


    Old Testament

    1. Job 19 : 21-27
    Psalm 27 (1-10, 16-end)
    Collect: 38
    3. Wisdom 3 : 1-9
    Psalm 116 (1-9)
    Collect: 31
    2. Isaiah 25 : 6-9
    Psalm 23
    Collect: 24
    4. Wisdom 4 : 7-15
    Psalm 25 (10-end)
    Collect: 32

    New Testament

    1. Romans 8 : 14-23
    Psalm 42 (1-7)
    Collect: 22
    6. Philippians 3 : 10-end
    Psalm 139 (1-11,17-18,23-24)
    Collect: 39
    2. Romans 8 : 31b-39
    Psalm 130
    Collect: 36
    7. 1 Thessalonians 4 : 13-18
    Psalm 121
    Collect: 35
    3. Romans 14 : 7-12
    Psalm 103 (8-17)
    Collect: 30
    8. Revelation 20 : 11-end
    Psalm 143 (1-10)
    Collect: 40
    4. 1 Corinthians 15 : 20-26
    Psalm 118 (14-21)
    Collect: 34
    9. Revelation 21 : 1-7
    Psalm 63 (1-9)
    Collect: 31
    5. 2 Corinthians 4 : 16-5, 10
    Psalm 90 (1-6,10-12,14,16-17)
    Collect: 37
    10. Revelation 21 : 22-22. 5
    Psalm 122
    Collect: 23


    1. Matthew 25 : 1-13 4. John 5 : 19-25
    2. Matthew 25 : 31-end 5. John 14 : 1-6,27
    3. Luke 12 : 35-40    



    This act of penitence is used, or a selection made from Appendix B, pp.124-127.

    Man that is born of woman
    has but a short time to live;
    We have our fill of sorrow.
    We blossom like a flower, and then wither.
    We slip away like a shadow, and do not endure.
    *or: Those born of woman
    have but a short time to live.
    We have our fill of sorrow...

    Holy God, holy and mighty,
    holy and merciful Saviour,
    abandon us not to the bitterness of eternal death.

    In the midst of life we are in death;
    where can we turn for help?
    Only to you, O Lord,
    justly angered by our sins.

    Holy God, holy and mighty,
    holy and merciful Saviour,
    abandon us not to the bitterness of eternal death.

    Lord, you know the secrets of our hearts;
    shut not your ears to our prayers,
    but spare us, O Lord, and forgive us.

    Holy God, holy and mighty,
    holy and merciful Saviour,
    abandon us not to the bitterness of eternal death.

    O eternal and merciful Judge,
    in life and when we come to die,
    let us not fall away from you.

    Holy God, holy and mighty,
    holy and merciful Saviour,
    abandon us not to the bitterness of eternal death.

  8. The minister prays:

    O Lord God,
    whose mercies are sure and full and ever new
    grant us the greatest of them all,
    the Spirit of your dear Son;
    that in the day of judgement
    we may be presented to you
    if not blameless, yet forgiven,
    if not successful, yet faithful,
    if not holy, yet persevering,
    deserving nothing but accepted in him
    who pleads our cause and redeemed our lives,
    even Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

  9. Other prayers may be said. The Litany for Holy Dying (appended to this service) is particularly appropriate. If it is not used, other intercessions and thanksgivings may be appropriate, and the Lord's Prayer is said.


  10. God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
    bring us to the dwelling which your Son
    is preparing for all who love you.
    Give us the will each day
    to live in life eternal.
    Let our citizenship be in heaven
    with your blessed and beloved,
    the whole company of the redeemed;
    and with countless angels,
    praising, worshipping and adoring him
    who sits upon the throne for ever and ever. Amen.

  11. To him who is able to keep us from falling and to present us without blemish before the presence of his glory with rejoicing, to the only God, our Saviour through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and for ever. Amen.


  12. May the God of peace himself sanctify you wholly; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ; and may the blessing of God almighty, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, come down upon you and remain with you always. Amen.


    God the Father
    have mercy on us.

    God the Son
    have mercy on us.

    God the Holy Spirit
    have mercy on us.

    Holy, blessed, and glorious Trinity
    have mercy on us.

    God, who took the form of a servant, and shared the life of suffering and sorrow,
    have mercy on us.

    God, who raised the daughter of Jairus, the son of the widow of Nain, and Lazarus at Bethany,
    have mercy on us.

    God, who bore our weaknesses and healed our sicknesses,
    have mercy on us.

    God, who became obedient unto death, even death on a cross,
    have mercy on us.

    God, who at the beginning breathed into us life, and appointed the hour of our death,
    have mercy on us.

    Hear our prayers, good Jesus, and grant that, dying to sin here, we may live for you in heaven:
    Good Jesus, hear us.

    May we, remaining your faithful soldiers and servants here, receive hereafter the crown of glory:
    Good Jesus, hear us.

    May we accept with joy all the suffering of sickness and death as no more than we deserve:
    Good Jesus, hear us.

    Be with us in the valley of the shadow of death:
    Good Jesus, hear us.

    Let us not, at our last hour, fall away from you.
    Good Jesus, hear us.

    Forgive us our sins, and strengthen us with the Bread of Life:
    Good Jesus, hear us.

    Let us die in your faith and fear, in sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life:
    Good Jesus, hear us.

    Deliver us, Lord, at our last hour; as you delivered Enoch and Elijah from the death which must come to all,
    Save and deliver us.

    As you delivered Noah from the flood,
    Save and deliver us.

    As you delivered Job from his affliction,
    Save and deliver us.

    As you delivered Isaac from the knife,
    Save and deliver us.

    As you delivered Lot from Sodom,
    Save and deliver us.

    As you delivered Daniel from the lions' den,
    Save and deliver us.

    As you delivered the three young men from the fiery furnace,
    Save and deliver us.

    As you delivered Esther and her people from the power of Haman,
    Save and deliver us.

    As you delivered Susanna from false condemnation and stoning,
    Save and deliver us.

    As you have always delivered from evil those who put their trust in you,
    Save and deliver us.

    Deliver us, Lord, on that fearful day, when the heavens and the earth shall pass away, when you shall come to judge the world by fire;
    Save and deliver us.

    In the day of judgement, when the books are opened, and the dead, great and small, shall stand before you;
    Save and deliver us.

    Holy God, holy and strong, holy and immortal:
    have mercy on us.

    Jesus, Lamb of God:
    have mercy on us.

    Jesus, bearer of our sins:
    have mercy on us.

    Jesus, redeemer of the world;
    Give us your peace.

    Let us pray with confidence to the Father in the words our Saviour gave us:
    Our Father in heaven,
    hallowed be your Name,
    your kingdom come,
    your will be done,
    on earth as in heaven.
    Give us today our daily bread.
    Forgive us our sins
    as we forgive those who sin against us.
    Lead us not into temptation
    but deliver us from evil.

    Deliver us, Lord, from every evil,
    and grant us peace in our day.
    In your mercy keep us free from sin
    and protect us from all anxiety
    as we wait in joyful hope
    for the coming of our Saviour Jesus Christ.

    For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours,
    now and for ever. Amen.

    Happy are the dead:
    Who die in the faith of Christ.

    Father, you made us in your image
    and your Son accepted death for our salvation.
    Help us to keep watch in prayer at all times.
    May we be free from all sin
    when we leave this world,
    and rejoice in peace with you for ever;
    through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.