The Orthodox Pages





























Question: 9

Dear Father Christopher,
Christ is in our midst!
On Soul Saturdays and on Thomas Sunday, the Greeks in our parish ask me to go to the cemetery to sing the Trisagion over the loved ones graves. I have been singing the complete Trisagion prayers of Mercy over every grave, sometimes over a couple of dozen. I almost lose my voice! Would it be proper to sing the Trisagion once upon arrival at the cemetery and saying an individual prayer over each grave? If so, what prayer? How do you do this?
In Christ,
Fr. Polycarp

Answer to Question 9
Dear Father Polycarp,
Christ is in our midst!
I don’t understand the custom of Thomas Sunday. In Cyprus memorials for the dead are forbidden from and including Lazarus Saturday until Thomas Sunday. Thus in Church we do not perform memorials on these days even if it is for the 3rd, 9th, or 40th day. In such cases, and only on these occasions that tradition says we must pray for the recently departed, we do sing the Resurrection Trisagion over the grave. In Cyprus, at least, we do not have a custom of saying Trisagia at the cemetery on Thomas Sunday and theologically it would be wrong. On Saturday of the Souls one would expect to have many requests for Trisagia. In Limassol, apart from the local area cemeteries, we have two main cemeteries. These are served by permanent Priests who cater for the many visitors who visit the cemeteries during the day. A few years ago I was one of the two Priests that performed the Limassol funerals (most funerals are performed at the Church near the Old Cemetery) and on occasions I had to help out with the Trisagia as the Cemetery. What we did was the following: the first Trisagion was said with the opening blessing and everything else except for the closing “By the prayers of our holy fathers…” With the other Trisagia we would sing only the last of the four verses to the Mother of God and all the prayers without the closing “By the prayers…” This we continued until the end of the day where we would finish with the last Trisagion by saying “By the prayers…” But this is at the cemetery. In the Parishes we do something completely different on Saturdays of the Souls. In our parish, where the population is around 15,000, we expect to receive anything from 500 to 1000 plates of Kolyva with lists of names to commemorate. As this would take forever to say so many names at the Vespers service, we begin about two to three hours before Vespers where the women bring their plates of Kolyva to be commemorated. As the first few plates arrive we say the first Trisagion complete, as other plates arrive we only say the petitions leaving out the bigger prayer. Thus we say:
“Have mercy upon us, O God, according to Thy great mercy; we pray Thee, hear us and have mercy.
Again we pray for the repose of the souls of the departed servants of God [Names], and for the forgiveness of his [her, their] every transgression, voluntary and involuntary.
Let the Lord God establish their souls where the just repose; the mercies of God, the kingdom of the heavens, and the remission of their sins, let us beseech of Christ, our immortal King and our God.
For Thou art the resurrection, the life and the repose of Thy departed servants [without repeating the names], O Christ our God, and to Thee we ascribe glory, together with Thine eternal Father and Thine all-holy, good and life-giving Spirit, now and for ever: world without end.
Everlasting be your memory, O our brethren, who art worthy of blessedness and eternal memory. [3]
I would think that if you have many Trisagia to say at the graveside then this format could easily be adapted.

With love in Christ
Fr. Christopher.