Orthodox funerals are rooted with traditional customs, including those from the 5th Century. From start to finish, the Orthodox funeral service is filled with spiritual items such as prayers, hymns and blessings. Complementary to these often passion driven funeral services are cherished customs for before and after the ceremony. One of these rituals is a brief custom called the the Trisaigon service.
The Trisagion is an abbreviated memorial that begins with a three repetitions of a familiar prayer:
“Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us.”
The repetition of these prayers is what makes the service to be also known as “Thrice-Holy”. Other brief prayers, including their Lord’s Prayer, then accompany the Thrice-Holy.
The singing of four hymns, called “Troparia”, is commences afterwards. The hymns ask their Lord to give rest to the deceased among Christians already perfected in the faith. These hymns are essentially abbreviated versions of the closing hymns of the same service.
Following this, a litany for the departed is presented and faithful attendees respond, “Lord, have mercy” three times after each petition. This is essentially where attending Christians ask for forgiveness for the deceased’s sins.
The priest then offers a final blessing for the deceased, asking their Lord to grant the departed “rest in the bosom” of key holy figures. Christians attending then sing, “May your memory be eternal” prior to the conclusion of the service.
The Trisaigon usually takes place before and after an Orthodox funeral service. Before the funeral service, the Trisagion is served at the place where the deceased lies. This could be at the funeral home or in the church, on the evening before or on the actual day of the funeral. For after the funeral service and memorial services, the Trisagion is chanted at the graveside, while the body is being committed to the grave. At this time, those of the Orthodox faith sing the prayer to await the return of their Lord and the resurrection of the dead.
Complementary to the Trisaigon, the Orthodox funeral service is an emotional and spiritual way to send off a faithful deceased with great respect.