An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church


A vigil or watch in the presence of the body of a deceased person prior to burial. It may be in the church, a funeral parlor, or a home. The observance of this funeral custom is separate from the funeral or burial liturgy. Prayers may be offered for the deceased and the grieving. The wake may also include shared food and drink and may involve festivity. The BCP states that it is appropriate for the family and friends of the deceased to come together for prayers prior to the funeral. Psalms, lessons, and collects from the burial service or other suitable psalms, lessons, and collects may be used. Prayers for a vigil or the Litany at the Time of Death may be said (BCP, pp. 465-466).

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from “An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians,” Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.