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St Peter and St Paul, Old Brampton

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A funeral in the Church of England


I said to the man who stood at the Gate of the Year, `Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown’. And he replied, `Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way!’     Minnie Louise Haskins, God Knows.

The funeral of a loved one acknowledges the end of a life on earth. A funeral service is an opportunity to gather before God to express your grief, to give thanks in celebration of a life, and to commend the soul of the departed into God’s keeping. The service may be short and quiet with only a few family members, or it may be an occasion of great solemnity with music and hymns. There may be a eulogy offered by one of the mourners, some favourite readings, and a full church. It can be an occasion of great joy in honour of a life lived to the full. Another option is for the body of the departed to be received in church the day before the funeral, and for a Requiem Eucharist to be held as part of the ceremonies.


The Choices you and your family have

The person who has died may have left instructions. Naturally, the family will want to keep to such arrangements as far as possible.

Everyone in England has the right to a funeral in the local parish church, even if they have not been church-goers. The Parish Church of St Peter and St Paul is the spiritual ‘home’ of everyone who lives within the parish of Old Brampton (click here for details ) and we at the church will do what we can to help you with the funeral.

Taking funerals is important part of the work for parish clergy. They give time to visiting families, comforting those who are facing loss, and helping them to arrange the service. If the priest did not know the deceased person, it helps if relatives provide some details, especially if there is to be an address.

The funeral Vicar plays an important part in coordinating arrangements and will want to know what you are planning. They will advise you on the fees for a funeral service in church, at a cemetery, or at a crematorium.

For a service at Old Brampton church, the options are:

The first part of the service (readings, address, prayers) takes place in church, and then we go either to the cemetery or crematorium for the brief committal service. Some families prefer the whole service to take place in church, with just the minister accompanying the coffin to the crematorium. The Committal is sometimes a private occasion when the family wish to have the opportunity of saying their own personal goodbyes to the departed.

If you have a family grave in the parish churchyard that has space within it, you have the choice of either a burial or interment of ashes. The church also has a Garden of Remembrance where the ashes of loved ones can be interred (please see the section below for further details).

If you don’t have a family grave in the churchyard, I’m afraid you can’t be buried there: Old Brampton Churchyard is closed to new burials.


The Crematorium

It’s possible to have the funeral service entirely at the crematorium, conducted by a priest from Old Brampton Church.


The Cemetery

Although this is rare nowadays, the service can be conducted entirely at the graveside.


The Funeral Service

The service begins with the priest or other minister reading aloud such reassuring sentences from the scriptures as: ‘I am the resurrection and the life,’ saith the Lord; ‘he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die,’ and: ‘I know that my Redeemer liveth ...’

The service can include hymns, psalm (often The Lord is my shepherd), reading(s) from Holy Scripture, and a brief address. Early in the service, there’s the opportunity for a family member or friend to give a brief eulogy, but it’s difficult to do this well when you are in a delicate emotional state, so don’t feel pressured to do this if you don’t feel up to it. Discuss it with the minister. The prayers that follow recall the promise of resurrection, entrust the dead person to the love and mercy of God and ask for comfort and strength for those who mourn. Then comes the commendation: we commend the soul of the departed to the mercy and protection of God. This is a moment of great beauty.

If the family wish it, a Eucharist (Mass) can be part of these ceremonies.

The committal that follows is a solemn moment. It takes place either at the graveside, in the crematorium chapel, or in church before the hearse leaves. In the cemetery or churchyard, the family gather round the open grave into which the coffin is lowered and they will hear the words: ‘We therefore commit his (or her) body to the ground; earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust; in the sure and certain hope of the Resurrection to eternal life.’ Handfuls of earth are scattered on the coffin. In a crematorium, the words of committal may be accompanied by the closing of a curtain to hide the coffin from view or the coffin is moved slowly out of sight. The committal can be a very emotional moment. Many who are suffering grief find that, even in their sadness, the words of prayer can lift them towards the experience of Christian rejoicing in the knowledge of life beyond death. The offering of prayer and the trust that the person is in God’s safe hands can begin the process of healing the grief of loss.


The Christian View of Death

The funeral service reflects the personality of the one who has died and the circumstances of the death. Feelings of grief, gratitude, joy, guilt and sadness often intermingle. Sometimes, there is an overwhelming sense of tragedy, as when a young person has died, and sometimes of thanksgiving for a long life lived well. There are times when the death of a faithful Christian is the consummation of all they have lived for and the funeral service is a triumphant end of earthly life.

What happens after we die is a mystery. Some Anglicans believe in Christ’s continuing power beyond death to cleanse us of our sins and bring us into the closer presence of God. That is why those of the Catholic tradition pray for those who are dead. Holy Scripture affirms that in God’s kingdom we shall delight in the presence and love of God and of the whole company of heaven. Whatever is wonderful about life here on earth is only a glimpse of the glory of the life that is to come. The comfort we need to find strength to come to terms with death and bereavement is to be found in the promises of Jesus Christ, in the hope of the Resurrection and in the belief that the departed are in the hands of God.

In the days before and after the funeral there may not be much of an opportunity to reflect on these things, but parish clergy and others involved in the service will be glad to offer longer-term help in supporting you over the days and months following, maybe even years, for grief can last a long time.


Prayers and readings


Old Brampton church is open during daylight hours (until lunchtime in the winter months) and you are welcome to visit and take time to feel the presence of God. The name of your loved one will be remembered during the services before and after the funeral service. The prayer corner in church has candles for you to light and cards on which to record your prayer requests. Flowers can also be left here.

On a Sunday around the time of All Souls’ Day (November 2) a service of Thanksgiving and Commemoration for the Departed is held in church – an opportunity for you to reflect in which the name of loved ones may be read out during prayers. You are welcome.


Prayers of Commendation


N, go forth upon your journey from this world, in the name of God the Father almighty, who created you; in the name of Jesus Christ, who suffered death for you; in the name of the Holy Spirit, who strengthens you; in communion with the blessed saints, and aided by angels and archangels, and all the armies of the heavenly host. May your portion this day be in peace, and your dwelling the heavenly Jerusalem. Amen

God of mercy, into whose hands your Son Jesus Christ, commended his spirit at his last hour, into whose same hands we now commend your servant……, that death may be for him/her the gate to life and to eternal fellowship with you; this we ask in the name of Christ, our Lord. Amen


Prayers for those who mourn


Gracious God, surround us and all who mourn this day
with your continuing compassion. Do not let grief overwhelm your children, or turn them against you. When grief seems never-ending, take them one step at a time along your road of death and resurrection in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Merciful Father, hear our prayers and comfort us; renew our trust in your Son, whom you raised from the dead; strengthen our faith that [N and N] all who have died in the love of Christ will share in his resurrection; who lives and reigns with you, know and for ever. Amen

Heavenly Father, you have not made us for darkness and death, but for eternal life. Without you we have nothing to hope for; with you we have nothing to fear. Speak to us now your words of eternal life. Lift us from anxiety and guilt to the light and peace of your presence, and set the glory of your love before us; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen


Some readings


Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling-places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way to the place where I am going.’ Thomas said to him, ‘Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:1-14


The Lord is my shepherd; therefore can I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures and leads me beside still waters. He shall refresh my soul and guide me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You spread a table before me in the presence of those who trouble me; you have anointed my head with oil and my cup shall be full. Surely goodness and loving mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever. Psalm 23

One night I had a dream. I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord. Across the sky flashed scenes from my life. For each scene I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand: one belonged to me, and the other to the Lord. When the last scene of my life flashed before me, I looked back at the footprints in the sand. I noticed that many times along the path of life, there was only one set of footprints. I also noticed that it happened at the very lowest and saddest times in my life. This really bothered me and I questioned the Lord about it: "Lord, you said that once I decided to follow you, you would walk with me all the way. But I have noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life, there is only one set of footprints. I don’t understand why in times when I needed you most, you would leave me.” The Lord replied: my precious, precious child, I love you and I would never leave you. During your times of trial and suffering, when you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you." Anonymous

When I am dead, my dearest,
Sing no sad songs for me;
Plant thou no roses at my head,
Nor shady cypress tree:
Be the green grass above me
With showers and dewdrops wet;
And if thou wilt, remember,
And if thou wilt, forget.
I shall not see the shadows,
I shall not feel the rain;
I shall not hear the nightingale
Sing on, as if in pain:
And dreaming through the twilight
That doth not rise nor set,
Haply I may remember,
And haply may forget.


Christina Rossetti


Bring us, O Lord God, at our last awakening
into the house and gate of heaven,
to enter that gate and dwell in that house,
where there shall be no darkness nor dazzling, but one equal light;
no noise nor silence, but one equal music;
no fears nor hopes, but one equal possession;
no ends or beginnings, but one equal eternity;
in the habitations of your glory and dominion, world without end.

John Donne

There is an old belief,
That on some solemn shore,
Beyond the sphere of grief
Dear friends shall meet once more.

Beyond the sphere of Time and Sin
And Fate’s control,
Serene in changeless prime
Of body and of soul.

That creed I fain would keep
That hope I’ll ne’er forgo,
Eternal be the sleep,
If not to waken so.


J G Lockhart

They shall grow not old as we that are left grow old. Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, We will remember them.
Lawrence Binyon

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come; thy will be done; on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen

May the souls of the departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace, and rise in glory. Amen

Cross image


God's Acre


God’s Acre’ is the old description of the English parish churchyard and evocative of much that we feel and value for those places set apart for the resting place of the departed.

A parish churchyard is not just a place where the dead are buried. At the centre and heart stands the parish church which proclaims an eternal message to both the living and the dead, a message of hope in the truth and reality of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

In the churchyard of St Peter and St Paul you will find gravestones going back to the 17th century. The stones are not just a record of names, but also of occupations and relationships within the local communities. They tell us much about the history and development of our local villages, and the town of Chesterfield.

A parish churchyard is not a public park or playing field, nor does it aim to resemble a nicely mowed lawn or perfectly trimmed garden. At the same time, no one wants or likes an untidy or completely wild and overgrown churchyard! At St Peter & St Paul, we try to keep the churchyard in such a condition that relatives can visit graves without the need of a machete to fight long grass!

Please note that the Churchyard at Old Brampton is closed for any burials in new graves.

In order to help parish churches keep their churchyards well maintained and in good order, the Diocese of Derby provides directions and guidelines which we are obliged to follow. A copy of these Rules and Directions may be found on display in the church porch. Briefly, they state that:

Relatives and friends are encouraged to tend and care for the graves of loved ones, and to place flowers and wreaths on a grave. The Rules allow for the planting of bulbs in a grave (though not beyond it without permission).

The Rules allow for stone flower containers, wreaths, cut flowers and greenery to be lain on graves. However, please remove and take away withered flowers. The Vicar and Churchwardens will remove any flowers, wreaths etc that have passed their best.
There is an tap along the back wall of church. Watering cans are also available.

Please note that artificial flowers, greenery and other decorations are not encouraged. The Regulations also do not permit containers of any kind, nor freestanding vases.

The Tower area


Some years ago an area around the Church Tower was designated for the interment of cremated remains. The special faculty (permission) from the Chancellor of the Diocese allowed relatives to place over the place of interment a stone tablet, level with the ground and displaying a suitable inscription.

Under the same faculty flowers or wreaths are permitted to be placed on or near the tablets. These should be fresh flowers, and removed when withered. Again, no shrubs or containers dug into the ground are permitted.

This area is now full and closed for any new interments. Burials of cremated remains in existing plots where there is room can continue.


The Garden of rest

There is an area for the interment of cremated remains to the east of the church building. Under the terms of the faculty (special permission) for this area, new important changes to the practice of interring ashes and marking interment plots have been introduced.

Unlike the Tower Area, the cremated remains of a loved one will no longer be interred in a casket, but are interred directly into the consecrated earth. This is Diocesan policy, and reflects concern for the environment. It means that our cremated remains area will be used for many generations to come.

Please note that under the terms of the faculty NO stone tablet, flowers or wreaths are permitted to be placed on the cremated remains area. However, you are welcome to place flowers and wreaths around the large memorial stone that faces the Garden of Rest.

Whilst this may seem a hard rule, it was made so that the cremated remains area reflects both an ordered and simple dignity, and the love we hold for all who rest in Christ.

Please help us to respect the conditions of the faculty.


The book of Rememberance

'Loves' last gift -rememberance



Relatives may wish to remember their loved ones, especially at certain times of year. This is why we have within the parish church a Book of Remembrance in which the names of those who are interred in the Garden of Rest are contained. A leaflet explaining how a name can be added to the book after the interment of their cremated remains is available from the Churchwardens. There is also an opportunity for loved ones to be remembered during a Sunday service. A book on the church ‘welcome table’ is available for you to record the name(s) on the day in the year which has significance for you.


Church Burial Records


Records of burials within the churchyard have been kept for several hundred years and these can be helpful in tracing family histories. Some years ago Parish Churches were required to deposit old record books in the County Archives Office in Matlock and you can access the records of Old Brampton Parish Church there. The church still has in its possession burial register books that go back to the early 20th century.

In addition, a few years ago, a plan was made of the churchyard marked graves, together with a record of the grave inscriptions. These are available for inspection, but we do ask you to contact the Churchwardens to arrange an appointment. A charge to go through the church register books is usually made.


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