Prayer at the Burial of the Dead at Sea

Prayers

Prayer at the Burial of the Dead at Sea

We therefore commit their body to the deep, looking for the general Resurrection in the last day, and the life of the world to come, through our Lord Jesus Christ; at whose second coming in glorious majesty to judge the world, the sea shall give up her dead; and the corruptible bodies of those who sleep in him shall be changed, and made like unto his glorious body; according to the mighty working whereby he is able to subdue all things unto himself.

The tradition of burial at sea is an ancient one. As far as anyone knows this has been a practice as long as people have gone to sea. In earlier times, the body was sewn into a weighted shroud, usually sailcloth. The body was then sent over the side, usually with an appropriate religious ceremony. Many burials at sea took place as recently as World War II when naval forces operated at sea for weeks, and months at a time. Since World War II many U.S. service members, veterans, and family members have chosen to be buried at sea.
Both British and U.S. ships likely used the prayer above in the 1800’s

The same Office may be used; but instead of the Sentence of Committal, the Minister shall say,

UNTO Almighty God we commend the soul of our brother departed, and we commit his body to the deep; in sure and certain hope of the Resurrection unto eternal life, through our Lord Jesus Christ; at whose coming in glorious majesty to judge the world, the sea shall give up her dead; and the corruptible bodies of those who sleep in him shall be changed, and made like unto his glorious body; according to the mighty working whereby he is able to subdue all things unto himself.

I AM the resurrection and the life, saith the Lord: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and who soever liveth and believeth in me, shall never die. I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: and though this body be destroyed, yet shall I see God: whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not as a stranger. We brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. The LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.

-1928 BOOK OF COMMON PRAYER

The American Episcopal Church produced a Book of Common Prayer and included these prayers for sailors at the Burial of their Dead at Sea.

The Office in the Common Prayer Book may be used; only instead of these words, [We therefore commit his/her body to the ground, earth to earth, &c.] say,

We therefore commit his body to the deep,
to be turned into corruption,
looking for the resurrection of the body
(when the sea shall give up her dead,)
and the life of the world to come, through our Lord Jesus Christ;
who at his coming shall change our vile body, that it may be like his glorious body, according to the mighty working whereby he is able to subdue all things unto himself.

In the 1892 BCP, this Committal appears at the end of the Burial Rite.