The remembrance of the departed faithful is an old custom in the Christian church. Here is some commentary on this day taken from the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod website:
The Commemoration of All Saints has been observed by Christians since at least the 4th century after Christ, although not always on November 1. Christians then as now desire to follow the encouragement of the writer to the Hebrews: "Remember your leaders who spoke the Word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith" (Heb 13:7).
The original purpose of remembering the saints and martyrs was blurred during the medieval ages, as saints became the objects of prayers and petitions for merit before God. Pointing to Christ as the only source of forgiveness, Luther cleansed the church of this abuse of the saints. Lutherans did not remove All Saints Day from the church calendar, however.
Luther posted his 95 Theses on the Wittenberg church door on October 31, 1517 precisely because he wanted the document to be seen by the throngs that would services on November 1, All Saints Day. Lutherans eventually chose October 31 as the day on which to remember Luther's legacy to the church, and All Saints Day in the Lutheran Church has forever after been overshadowed by Reformation services.
|All Saints Day, Krakow, Poland|
The Prayer of the Day:
Almighty God, you have knit your people together in one holy Church, the body of Christ our Lord. Grant us grace to follow the examples of your blessed saints in lives of faith and willing service and with them at last inherit the inexpressible joys that you have prepared for those who love you; through Jesus Christ our Lord....
Our music for this day is Ralph Vaughan Williams's setting - Sine Nomine- for the processional hymn, For All the Saints, written by William Walsham How.
Most versions omit several verses that I believe are most relevant to our time. They are:
Who bearing forth the Cross o’er land and sea,
Shook all the mighty world, we sing to Thee:
For the Evangelists, by whose blest word,
Like fourfold streams, the garden of the Lord,
Is fair and fruitful, be Thy Name adored.
For Martyrs, who with rapture kindled eye,
Saw the bright crown descending from the sky,
And seeing, grasped it, Thee we glorify.
O may Thy soldiers, faithful, true and bold,
Fight as the saints who nobly fought of old,
And win with them the victor’s crown of gold.
And when the strife is fierce, the warfare long,
Steals on the ear the distant triumph song,
And hearts are brave, again, and arms are strong.
For All the Saints entry, en.wikipedia.org