Pentecost -- Ordinary Time -- Service Prayers

"Oh, When the Saints Come Marching In!" [PDF]

Service Prayers for All Saints Day,
following the readings for the 22nd Sunday after Pentecost

Ruth 1:1-18, Psalm 146, Hebrews 9:11-14, Mark 12:28-34

Centering Meditation

Oh, when the saints go marching in,
Oh, when the saints go marching in
Oh, how I want to be in that number
When the saints go marching in !

Text: Katharine Purvis
Tune: James Milton Black

Call to Worship

One:    Oh when the saints go marching in
            We will meet friends and family of courage and faith:

Many:             Where you go, I will go; where you live, I will live;
                        your people shall be my people and your God, my God.

Where you die, I will die— there will I be buried.
                        Even death will not part me from you!

                                                (Ruth 1:16, 17 paraphrase)

One:    O when the saints go marching in
            We will meet prophets and leaders who have called us
            to God’s ways:

Many:             Happy are those whose help is our faithful God
                        of justice and courage, of welcome and healing!

                                            (Psalm 146 paraphrase)

One:    Oh when the saints go marching in
            We will meet the wise ones who dwell in God’s reign:

Many:             They rejoice to love God
                        with all heart and soul and mind and  strength;
                        and to love their neighbors….
(Mark 12: 33 paraphrase)

One:    Oh when the saints go marching in,
            Let us join with them in joyful procession
            to worship and praise our God!

Prayer of Invocation

                        Oh God, in whose hands are life, death and eternal life,  
                        we thank you for all the saints,
                        all those who have been baptized in the spirit
                        and whom you have justified by grace and faith.
                        We rejoice that their faithfulness
                        has paved the way for our lives to follow.
                        Thank you for the small and large saints
                        who have given us love and care and challenge:
                        (Invite congregation to call out names
                        of loved ones, mentors, leaders).

            We give thanks that all these beloved saints
            now live with you in eternal life.                                                                                                                                                 

Prayer of Confession

We ask for forgiveness, God of Mercy, for all the times we have not followed in the ways of your saints and loved you with all our heart and soul, mind and strength.             
(Silence to reflect on what we need to confess)

Assurance of Pardon

Through Christ, God forgives us our failings, and continues to call us into a community of mutual love and forgiveness.  Let us celebrate this mercy of God by greeting each other with a sign of Christ’s peace.

Call to Offering

 The saints point us to a way of generosity, in which we may share the gifts God has given us with the whole community.  Let us gather our gifts together and offer them to God with heartfelt gratitude, commitment and praise.


Change our lives, O God, and let these gifts change the world into which we send them.  Take them and multiply them to be a blessing of justice and peace in the world you love!


“Oh, when the saints come marching in
Oh, when the saints come marching in
Oh yes, I want to be in that number
When the saints go marching in!”

Let us go forth to join the procession of saints in our world,
loving our God with heart and soul, mind and strength!

Day of the Dead Celebration:  Children’s Sermon and Holy Communion 

Invite the children ahead of time to bring photographs of any of their loved ones who have died and their loved ones’ favorite foods.

Create  a small altar with marigolds ands candles and explain the Mexican cultural tradition of “Dias de Muerta” or Day of the Dead, where families clean the graveyard and have a party in celebration of their deceased loved ones who have died and remember them while sharing their  favorite foods. Bring your own photograph and favorite food of someone whom you loved who has died and bring enough food to share with the children. For example, if your father died and he liked olives, bring enough olives to share.   Tell a story about your father--what you loved about him, and what he taught you.

Talk about the importance of remembering those who have gone before us; remind the children--and their parents--that our communities extend through time, stretching all the way back to the community of Jesus.  Generation by generation the stories of Jesus have been told--especially around communion tables where Christians have shared the bread and cup in Jesus’ memory.   When we gather at our congregation’s communion table, we gather there with all the “saints” who have gone before us, who have been faithful to Jesus--we share a meal with them and with Jesus himself.

Consider having Holy Communion on this day, and including the children in a special way, along with all the saints.


“Oh, When the Saints Come Marching In”: Service prayers for All Saints Day, following the readings for the 22nd Sunday after Pentecost, was written by the Rev. Bonnie Tarwater, pastor of the Congregational Church of Lincoln City, Lincoln City, Oregon.
Copyright 2009 Local Church Ministries, Congregational Vitality and Discipleship Ministry Team, United Church of Christ, 700 Prospect Avenue, Cleveland, OH  44115-1100.  Permission granted to reproduce or adapt this material for use in services of worship or church education.  All publishing rights reserved.


Rev. Susan A. Blain
Minister for Worship, Liturgy and Spiritual Formation
700 Prospect Ave.
Cleveland, Ohio 44115