Commendation of the Dying

When a Christian is near death, the following Order may be used. If no Minister is present it may be used by the head of the family or by any other Christian.

Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

Then shall all present say:

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.


Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours now and for ever. Amen.

The Minister says:

O Lord God, our heavenly Father, graciously look on this your servant, [name]. Forgive him all his sins, mercifully defend him in the hour of his death, and grant him eternal life; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.


O Christ, Son of God, for [name] you bore the pain of the cross and died for his sins, have mercy on him, forgive him all his sins, and keep him steadfast in faith.

or the Litany for the Dying may be said:

God the Father in heaven, have mercy on him.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on him.
God the Holy Spirit, have mercy on him.

Be gracious to himSpare himgood Lord.
Be gracious to himHelp himgood Lord.

From your wrath,
from an evil death,
from the pains of hell,
from the power of the devil,
from all evil, good Lord, deliver him.

By your holy nativity,
by your agony and bloody sweat,
by your cross and passion,
by your glorious resurrection and ascension,
by the grace of the Holy Spirit, the Counselor, help himgood Lord.

In the hour of death,
and in the day of judgment, help himgood Lord.

We poor sinners pray, hear us, Lord God.
We pray that you would spare himHear us, good Lord.

Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

Then one or more Psalms or Scripture Lessons may be read.

Psalm 16 

Guard me, O God, for I take refuge in you.
2I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord.
I have no good apart from you.”
3The holy ones who are in the land are glorious.
All my delight is in them.
4Those who chase after another god will increase their sorrows.
I will not pour out their drink offerings of blood.
I will not take up their names on my lips.
5Lord, you are the cup that has been given to me.
You have secured an allotment for me.
6The property lines chosen for me fall in pleasant places.
Yes, a delightful inheritance is mine.
7I will bless the Lord, who guides me.
Even at night my heart instructs me.
8I have set the Lord always before me.
Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
9Therefore my heart is glad,
and my whole being rejoices.
Even my flesh will dwell securely
10  because you will not abandon my life to the grave.
You will not let your favored one see decay.
11You have made known to me the path of life,
fullness of joy in your presence,
pleasures at your right hand forever.

Psalm 23 (ESV)

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
3He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
or you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord

John 10:14-18, 27-30

14“I am the Good Shepherd. I know my sheep and my sheep know me 15(just as the Father knows me and I know the Father). And I lay down my life for the sheep. 16I also have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. Then there will be one flock and one shepherd. 17This is why the Father loves me, because I lay down my life so that I may take it up again. 18No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own. I have the authority to lay it down, and I have the authority to take it up again. This is the commission I received from my Father.” …  27My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. 28I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. 29My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all. No one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. 30I and the Father are one.”

John 14:1-4

“Do not let your heart be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2In my Father’s house are many mansions. If it were not so, I would have told you. I am going to prepare a place for you. 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and take you to be with me, so that you may also be where I am. 4You know where I am going, and you know the way.”

When the end is near, the Agnus Dei and/or the Nunc Dimittis may be said.

Agnus Dei

O Christ, Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world: have mercy on us.
O Christ, Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world: have mercy on us.
O Christ, Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world; grant us your peace. Amen.

Nunc Dimittis

Lord, now you let your servant
depart in peace according to your word.
For my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared before the face of all people,
a light to lighten the Gentiles
and the glory of your people Israel.

The Minister lays his hand on the head of the dying believer, and says:

Depart in peace, ransomed soul,
in the name of God the Father almighty who created you,
in the name of Jesus + Christ, the Son of the living God, who redeemed you,
in the name of the Holy Spirit, who sanctified you.

Come now to Mount Zion, the city of the living God;
to the heavenly Jerusalem;

to tens of thousands of angels in joyful assembly,
to the church of the firstborn whose names are written in heaven. (Hebrews 12:21-23)

The Lord will watch over your your coming and going both now and forevermore. Amen. (Psalm 121:8)

The Lord bless you and keep you.
The Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you.
The Lord look on you with favor and + give you peace.

When the soul has departed, the following Prayer may be said:

Lord Jesus, Prince of Life, we thank you that you kept our brother steadfast in repentance and faith, and that you have now taken him to yourself. Comfort us who remain. Help us to the end of life to bear its burdens and trials patiently, and when our last hour comes, be the strength of our heart and our portion forever; for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.


Almighty, eternal and most merciful God, you summon and take us out of this sinful and corrupt world to yourself  through death  so that we may not perish or continue in sin, but pass through death to life eternal. Help us to know and believe this with our whole heart that we may rejoice in our departure and at your call cheerfully enter your eternal kingdom; through Jesus Christ your Son, our Lord. Amen.

The blessing of almighty God, the Father, the + Son, and the Holy Spirit, be with us all. Amen.

Source: Modified from Common Service Book, 1888, 1917. Elements from other commendation rites are also included.

Litany for the Dying: 16th century Kirchenordnung, the Church Book, in Oremus, 1925, ed. by Paul Zeller Strodach, freely modified.

Scripture (except for Psalm 23 and Psalm 121:8) is taken from The Holy Bible, Evangelical Heritage Version,

“O Christ, Son of God, for _____ you bore…” “Depart in peace, ransomed soul…” through Psalm 121:8, and the prayer “Almighty, eternal and most merciful God…” are modified from The Lutheran Hymnal, p. 119

A version of this rite may be imported into Christian Worship: Service Builder.

A version of this rite is also available in Christian Worship: Service Builder with selectable options.

This is available as a pdf, formatted for printing as a booklet. The margins that appear uneven and wide make it possible to print as a booklet and insert it into the front or back cover of a small Bible or prayer book. After folding into a booklet, trim to about 4.25″ x 6″.

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Lutheran pastor and musician serving St. Stephen's in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin.

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