The Feast of All Saints has been celebrated as such since the ninth century, but its roots are even earlier, in a festival in honor of All Martyrs celebrated in Syria in the mid-fourth century, and in the rededication of the Pantheon in Rome. The Pantheon was originally dedicated as a pagan temple in 27 b.c. to the gods of the seven known planets; it was re-dedicated by Boniface IV in a.d. 610 as a Christian basilica in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary and all martyrs.
The Feast of All Saints, therefore, recalls the memories of the faithful departed and the triumph of Christ over all false gods. Being thus a Christological feast, the color of the paraments is white.
After the Reformation, Lutherans continued to observe All Saints’ Day, while rejecting the additional Feast of All Souls the following day because of its unscriptural underpinnings in commemorating the souls in Purgatory who were not yet saints.
Collect for the Feast of All Saint—Almighty and everlasting God, You knit together Your faithful people of all times and places into one holy communion, the mystical body of Your Son, Jesus Christ. Grant us so to follow Your blessed saints in all virtuous and godly living that, together with them, we may come to the unspeakable joys You have prepared for those who love You; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Prayer for a blessed death: Almighty God, grant Your unworthy servants Your grace, that in the hour of our death the adversary may not prevail against us but that we may be found worthy of everlasting life; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Prayer for blessedness of heaven: Almighty, everlasting God, You gave Your only Son to be a High Priest of good things to come. Grant unto us, Your unworthy servants, to have our share in the company of the blessed for all eternity; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Prayer for hope of eternal life in Christ: Almighty, everlasting God, Your Son has assured forgiveness of sins and deliverance from eternal death. Strengthen us by Your Holy Spirit that our faith in Christ may increase daily and that we may hold fast to the hope that on the Last Day we shall be raised in glory to eternal life; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Prayer for joy in life and hope of the resurrection: O Lord, the refuge of every generation, we fade like withered grass as You sweep us away in the sleep of death. Make us glad for as many days as You have afflicted us, be gracious to us for Jesus' sake, and awaken us in the joy of the resurrection to eternal life with Him who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Monday, 26 October 2015—
Psalm 31:1, 3, 5; Antiphon, Rev 7:14b—The antiphon is the description of a
portion of the vision which the Holy Apostle and Evangelist John received from
our Lord Jesus. In it, he sees those saints who have received the beatific
vision of God by virtue of their having been baptized, having washed their robes and made them white in
the blood of the Lamb, that is,
Jesus Christ our Savior. This is the blessed existence that awaits all the
elect, for which we yearn even while we groan in this vale of tears.
Tuesday, 27 October 2015—
psalm of high praise unto the Lord to be offered up in the assembly of the
godly. He has taken pleasure in his people and adorned the humble
with salvation. For this, we His saints do not cease to give Him the glory
and praise due His name.
Wednesday, 28 October 2015—
is the vision whence the antiphon for the Introit is drawn. These are the
saints who never cease praising God and the Lamb for the salvation which has
been accomplished by the Lamb of God having shed His blood for the remission of
all our sins and for our salvation. In the Lord’s Supper, we join with those
saints who have gone before, with palm branches in their hands, in
singing the Sanctus: ‘Holy Holy, Holy…Blessed is he who cometh in the
name of the Lord!’ With those saints, we also partake of the marriage feast of
the Lamb which has no end.
Thursday, 29 October 2015—
1 John 3:1–3—What
an amazing thing it is to be able to pray the Lord’s Prayer, where we address
the Holy and Almighty God as Our Father! This we can do because we are
the children of God, as St John tells us in the Epistle reading for
Sunday. We are His children because, being baptized into Christ, we are
Christ’s, and heirs with Him. By the redemption we have by the blood of Jesus,
God has made us His children.
Friday, 30 October 2015—
Matthew 5:1–12—The Beatitudes are
not some new kind of Law given by a new Lawgiver, Jesus. Rather, they are a
description of those who are in Christ. The Beatitudes describe both who Jesus
is and what He gives to all who, by faith, have been incorporated into Him. You,
dearly baptized, are blessed: the Kingdom of Heaven is yours,
you shall see God, you are called sons of God, for you belong to
Saturday, 31 October 2015—Sunday’s hymn of the day, For All the Saints (LSB 677) is a song of high praise, not to the saints, but by us saints, for the grace of God shown to the saints who have gone before. As they now enjoy eternity with their Lord and Redeemer, so we, too, look forward to that more glorious day, when saints triumphant rise in bright array, and sing Alleluias to Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
Prayer for joy in the promise of bodily resurrection: Merciful Father and Lord of life, with whom live the spirits of those who depart in the faith, we thank You for the blessings of body and soul that You granted this departed loved one, whose earthly remains we now lay to rest. Above all, we rejoice at Your gracious promise to all Your servants, both living and departed, that we shall be raised from death at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Prayers from Lutheran Service Book, © 2006 Concordia Publishing House.
Historical background adapted from The Lutheran Liturgy by Luther D. Reed, ©1947, Muhlenberg Press, p. 510.
Artwork by Ed Riojas, ©Higher Things.