Program for the funeral of N. A. Petersen, 1937.
2008-117 - Gift of Grace Johnson.
Program for the funeral at sea of Leo M. Nielsen, age 7, September 22, 1915.
Gift of Ronald Nielsen.
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The majority of Danish people belong to the Danish Lutheran Church. When they die, therefore, they have the right to burial with Church rites.
A burial in Danish is jordfæstelse while a cremation isbisættelse. Both are marked by a church ceremony.
Before the funeral the bereaved meet with a minister to make decisions about what the ceremony will be like. It is decided whether there will be a burial or cremation and what hymns will be sung at the ceremony.
As it is traditional that songs are sung together during the Danish church service a program is printed for the occasion with the text of the hymns. The organist then plays them and the congregation sings along. Despite modern ideas the organist is only obligated to play from the Lutheran Hymnal and any other songs requested can be denied.
The program also informs the church-goer of which texts will be read and when.
A funeral program can give one the date and place of the funeral, which will lead to the next step in your research, the parish burial record. Death and burial records will help identify the age and residence of an ancestor. At times, if rarely, the records may also identify the cause of death, whether the person was a widow or widower, or record other family information.
In the case of N.A. Petersen the church book spelling reveals an alternative spelling of the name as he is listed as Nils Albut Pedersen. The alternative spelling is by no means uncommon on official document so when searching for your ancestors be sure to try more than one.
Furthermore the personal information about Niels Pedersen tells us the names of his parents, his birthdate and the fact that he was a resident of the local nursing home, that he was a carpenter by trade and that he was divorced from his wife. A very unusual piece of information in 1937.