What is a Committal Service?

A guide to committal services and what they can contain.

Last updated: 2 June 2020

People standing at a graveside

What is a Committal service?

A committal service at a funeral is a Christian ritual, most commonly associated with Orthodox and Catholic denominations, though not exclusively. It follows the funeral and involves a selection of prayers and, in some cases, a farewell to the person who has died from the community.

It is often a graveside ritual at the time of the burial, but can also take place in a crematorium following a cremation or at the site of interment for a person’s ashes.

The service itself is meant to commit the person to their final resting place, which is where it gets its name. The rite of committal is traditionally the final rite of three associated with a Christian funeral. The first two are the vigil service and the funeral liturgy, which are performed before the funeral and during the funeral respectively.

The rite of committal traditionally closes a Christian funeral and comes when the person is being committed to their final resting place." "Depending on the denomination of the person who has died, there are a number of prayers that might be said at a committal. The officiating priest will choose appropriate bible readings and prayers, and will usually invite the gathered mourners to join in the Lord’s prayer to end the rite." } }

Some common committal prayers include those beginning:

  • Because God has chosen to call our brother/sister name from this life to himself, we commit his/her body to the earth/its resting place...
  • In sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life through our Lord Jesus Christ, we commend to Almighty God our brother/sister name, and we commit his/her body to the ground/its resting place…..
  • For a burial at sea - Lord God, by the power of your word you stilled the chaos of the primeval seas, you made the raging waters of the flood subside and calmed the storm on the sea of Galilee. As we commit the body of our brother/sister name to the deep grant him/her peace and tranquillity…

An example of the traditional commendation prayer would be as follows:

Into your hands, Father of mercies,
we commend our brother/sister name,
in the sure and certain hope,
that, together with all who have died in Christ,
he (she) will rise with him on the last day,

The committal service isn’t the only religious rite that might take place at a funeral. For more information about religious funerals, we have a wide range of guides. If you’re curious about the future of funerals then we’ve got that covered as well. We also have a look at some more alternative funeral ideas which people have chosen.