Stichera for the Dead by St. John of Damascus
Sung during the Orthodox Funeral Service and during Friday Vespers during Great Lent.
First, recite the list of names of your departed loved ones. Then (these are sung in stichera tones, or simply chanted - contact me if you want help):
What pleasure in this life remains unmarked by sorrow? What glory can endure upon this earth unchanged? All is feebler than a shadow, more deceptive than a dream; for death in a single moment takes all things away. But in the light of Thy countenance, O Christ, and in the joy of Thy beauty, give rest to those whom Thou hast chosen, for Thou lovest mankind.
As a flower withers and a dream passes away, so is each man’s flesh dissolved at death. But at the sounds of the trump all the dead as in an earthquake shall rise up again to meet Thee, Christ our God. Then, Master, grant to all Thy servants whom Thou has taken from us, that they may dwell forever in the tabernacles of Thy saints.
Woe is me! How great a struggle the soul endures at its parting from the body. Woe is me! How many tears it sheds, but there is nothing to pity it. Turning to the angels, it supplicates in vain; stretching out its hands to men, it finds no-one to help. Therefore, my beloved brethren, reflecting on the shortness of our life, let us ask Christ to give rest to the departed and to grant our souls great mercy.
All human things are in vain, which endure not after death. Our wealth will not remain, our glory will not go with us upon the way: for when death comes, all these things will disappear. Therefore let us cry to Christ who is immortal: Give rest to our departed brethren and make them dwell with the joyful.
Where are all the attractions of this world? Where is the vain show of passing things? Where are the silver and the gold? Where are the crowds of servants and their clamour? All are dust, all ashes, all a shadow. Come, then, and let us cry to the Immortal King: O Lord, count worthy of eternal joy those whom Thou hast taken from us, and give them rest in the blessedness that grows not old.
I called to mind the Prophet’s words, “I am dust and ashes.” I went also to the tombs, and saw the naked bones, and said: “Which now is the king or the soldier, the rich man or the beggar, the upright or the sinner?” But give rest, O Lord, unto Thy servants with the righteous, for Thou lovest mankind.
Thy creative ordinance was my beginning and foundation. For Thou has willed to fashion me as a living creature from natures visible and invisible: Thou hast made my body from the earth, and given me a soul by Thy divine and quickening breath. Therefore, O Saviour, grant rest to Thy servants in the land of the living, in the tabernacles of the righteous.
Thou hast formed man in the beginning according to Thine image and Thy like-ness, and Thou has made him dwell in Paradise as ruler over Thy creation. But through the envy of the devil he was deceived and ate the fruit, transgressing Thy commands. Therefore, O Lord, Thou hast condemned him to return again unto the earth when he was taken, and to ask for rest.
I lament and weep whenever I see death and look upon our beauty, formed ac-cording to God’s image, lying in the grave disfigured and inglorious, its outward form destroyed. O strange wonder! What mystery is this concerning us? How have we been delivered to corruption? How have we been yoked to death? All this, so it is written, is by the ordinance of God, who grants rest to the departed.