All Saints' Day Eucharist
November 1, 2020 10:00am
Each November 1, we come to the liturgical year’s final Principal Feast in All Saints’ Day, a part of Allhallowtide, a three-day commemoration including All Hallows’ Eve (Halloween), All Saints’ Day (All Hallows’ Day), and All Souls’ Day. So, what is this feast day all about and how will we commemorate it this year at St. Mark’s?
During the Middle Ages, “saints” came to be defined quite narrowly as that word was applied primarily to persons of heroic sanctity, whose deeds and exemplary witness to the Gospel were being recalled with gratitude by later generations. While those saints identified over the centuries by the church are still honored and celebrated with their own feast and fast days during the liturgical year, we now use All Saints’ Day for remembering “saints” as the New Testament describes them - the entire membership of the Christian community, the whole Body of Christ. On this day, we rejoice in the communion of all the saints, here and now: the folks who have been beacons of Christ’s light in our own lives, and the person who sits in the pew next to us (even if six feet away). And that word “communion” is an important one to note as well. We believe that as we pray and sing, as we participate in the Eucharist, and as we strive to live our lives according to Christ’s teachings and example, that we “saints” are in spiritual union with one another, with all those who came long before us, and with all those who will come after us. So, this feast of All Saints’ is our liturgical commemoration and reminder that you and me are not in this alone, that we are encouraged and supported by a great cloud of witnesses, and that the Body of Christ is infinitely bigger and broader than me and you.
As we celebrate this year, you’ll notice some special offerings for this feast day. We’ll use a different Eucharistic Prayer than we are used to - Eucharistic Prayer D. Not only does it include the petitions we’d typically hear during the Prayers of the People, but also provides space for the prayerful recitation of the Necrology. Gathered around the altar, you’ll hear our clergy name out loud all those who have died and that we have prayed for since last All Saints’ Day. By calling these names and tolling the bell, we remember that they join us around Christ’s table, and that we continue to be surrounded by their witness and holiness in our lives. You’ll hear the St. Mark’s choirs sing the liturgical settings of Gabriel Fauré’s Requiem (more information on the next page). In our own homes we’ll sing some favorite hymns including For All The Saints, Who From Their Labors Rest, and Ye Holy Angels Bright. And we will all have the opportunity to renew our Baptismal promises in the Covenant that binds us all together in this communion of saints. I pray you’ll be able to join us online at 10.00am. But lo! There breaks a yet more glorious day; the saints triumphant rise in bright array; the King of Glory passes on his way. Alleluia! Alleluia! (For All the Saints, William Walsham How)