Sunday, 26th October, 2014
Planning Ahead: Readings and Funeral Poems

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Here are the most loved poems and readings for funerals. The choice is very personal but we hope you find an appropriate poem, reading or prayer in our collection

Religious Text

Sorted alphabetically by title or first line

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A

A Gaelic blessing

May the road rise gently at your feet;
May the sun shine warmly upon your face;
May the wind be always at your back;
May the rain fall softly upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

Gaelic blessing

And I saw a new heaven and a new earth

And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.

And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of Heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself will be with them, and be their God.

And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new.And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.

And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.

He that overcometh shall inherit all things: and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.

Revelations 21: 1-7

And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain

And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him:

And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying,

Blessed are the poor in spirit: for their's is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed are they who do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for their's is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you, for my sake.

Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

Matthew 5: 1-12

B

Bring us, O Lord God

Bring us, O Lord God, at our last awakening into the house and gate of heaven to enter into that gate and dwell in that house, where there shall be no darkness nor dazzling, but one equal light; no noise nor silence, but one equal music; no fears nor hopes, but one equal possession; no ends nor beginnings, but one equal eternity, in the habitation of thy glory and dominion, world without end. Amen.

John Donne, Jacobean poet, preacher, MP and Dean of St Paul's Cathedral (1572 - 1631)

C

Collects from the First Prayer Book of Edward VI

Almighty God, which doest make the minds of all faithful men to be of one will: grant unto thy people, that they may love the thing which thou commandest, and desire that which thou doest promise, that among the sundry and manifold changes of the world, our hearts may surely there be fixed, where true joys are to be found: through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Almighty God, the fountain of all wisdom, which knowest our necessities before we ask, and our ignorance in asking: we beseech thee to have compassion upon our infirmities, and those things, which for our unworthiness we dare not, and for our blindness we cannot ask, vouchsafe to give us for the worthiness of thy son Jesu Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

D

E

F

For this corruptible shall have put on incorruption

For this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.

O Death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?

The sting of Death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.

But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

1 Corinthians 15: 53-end

For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself

For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself.

For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lordís.

Romans 14: 7, 8

G

God is our refuge and our strength

God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore will not we fear,
though the earth be removed,
and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
though the waters thereof roar and be troubled,
though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof.

There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God,
the holy place of the tabernacles of the Most High.
God is in the the midst of her,
she shall not be moved:
God shall help her, and that right early.
The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved:
he uttered his voice, the earth melted.
The LORD of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our refuge.

Come, behold the works of the LORD,
what desolations he hath made in the earth.
He maketh wars to cease unto the ends of the earth;
he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder;
he burneth the chariot in the fire.
Be still and know that I am God:
I will be exalted among the heathen,
I will be exalted in the earth.
The LORD of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our refuge.

Psalm 46


 

H

I

I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills

I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills:
from whence cometh my help.
My help cometh even from the Lord:
who hath made heaven and earth.
He will not suffer thy foot to be moved:
and he that keepeth thee will not sleep.
Behold, he that keepeth Israel:
shall neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord himself is thy keeper:
the Lord is thy defence upon thy right hand;
So that the sun shall not burn thee by day:
neither the moon by night.
The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil:
yea it is even he that shall keep thy soul.
The Lord shall preserve thy going out, and thy coming in:
from this time forth for evermore.
Glory be to the Father, and the Son,
and the Holy Ghost.
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
World without end. Amen.

Psalm 121

Indian prayer

When I am dead
Cry for me a little
Think of me sometimes
But not too much.
Think of me now and again
As I was in life
At some moments it's pleasant to recall
But not for long.
Leave me in peace
And I shall leave you in peace
And while you live
Let your thoughts be with the living.

Unknown

I commend my soul to God my Maker

I commend my soul to God my Maker, who created me from nothing; to Jesus Christ my Saviour, who redeemed me with His blood; to the Holy Ghost, who sanctified me in Baptism. Into thy hands, O Lord, I comment my spirit.

I renounce, from this moment, and for all eternity, the Devil and all his works. I abhor all his suggestions and temptations. Suffer not, O Lord, this mortal enemy of my soul to have any power over me, either now or at my last hour. Let thy holy Angels ever keep and defend me against all the powers of darkness.

Canon Carter, Victorian theologian (1808 - 1901)

Note: from The Treasury of Devotion

J

Let not your heart be troubled

Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.

In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you.

I go to prepare a place for you.

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.

Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

From the New Testament

John 14: 1-6

K

L

Life must go on

Grieve for me, for I would grieve for you.
Then brush away the sorrow and the tears
Life is not over, but begins anew,
With courage you must greet the coming years.

To live forever in the past is wrong;
Can only cause you misery and pain.
Dwell not on memories overlong,
With others you must share and care again.

Reach out and comfort those who comfort you;
Recall the years, but only for a while.
Nurse not your loneliness; but live again.
Forget not. Remember with a smile.

A Navaho Prayer in the American Indian tradition

Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations

Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations.

Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.

Thou turnest man to destruction; and sayest, Return, ye children of men.

For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.

Thou carriest them away as with a flood; they are as a sleep: in the morning they are like grass which growth up.

In the morning it growth up; in the evening it is cut down, and withereth.

The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off and we fly away.

So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.

O satisfy us early with thy mercy; that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.

Let thy work appear unto thy servants, and thy glory unto our children.

And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us; and establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it.

Psalm 90

Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth

Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:

But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:

For where your treasures is, there will your heart be also.

Matthew 6: 19-21

Let us now praise famous men

Let us now praise famous men, and our fathers that begat us.

The Lord hath wrought great glory by them through his great power from the beginning.

Such as did bear rule in their kingdoms, men renowned for their power, giving counsel by their understanding, and declaring prophecies: leaders of the people by their counsels, and by their knowledge of learning meet for the people, wise and eloquent in their instructions: such as found out musical tunes, and recited verses in writing: rich men furnished with ability, living peaceably in their habitations:

All these were honoured in their generations, and were the glory of their times.

There be of them, that have left a name behind them, that their praises might be reported.

And some there be, which have no memorial; who are perished as though they had never been; and their children after them. But these were merciful men, whose righteousness hath not been forgotten. Their bodies are buried in peace; but their name liveth for evermore.

Ecclesiastes 44

M

Celtic prayer

May God make safe to you each step
May God make open to you each pass
May God make clear to you each road,
And may He take you in the clasp of His own two hands.

Celtic Prayer

N

O

Oh Lord, support us all the day long until the shadows lengthen

Oh Lord, support us all the day long, until the shadows lengthen,
the evening comes, the busy world is hushed,
the fever of life is over, and our work is done.
Then, in thy mercy, grant us a safe lodging
and a holy rest and peace at last. Amen.

Prayer

P

Prayer of St Francis of Assisi

Lord makes us instruments of Thy peace,
Where there is hatred, let us sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that we may never seek
So much to be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive:
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
And it is in dying,
That we are born to eternal life. Amen.

Saint Francis of Assisi, Roman Catholic Friar and patron saint of animals, birds and the environment (1181 - 1226)

Prayer of faith

We trust that beyond absence there is a presence.
That beyond the pain there can be healing.
That beyond the brokeness there can be wholeness.
That beyond the anger there may be peace.
That beyond the hurting there may be forgiveness.
That beyond the silence there may be the word.
That beyond the word there may be understanding.
That through understanding there is love.

Unknown

Prayer for wisdom

Almighty God, the giver of wisdom, without whose help resolutions are vain, without whose blessing study is ineffectual; enable me, if it be thy will, to attain such knowledge as may qualify me to direct the doubtful, and instruct the ignorant; to prevent wrongs and terminate contentions; and grant that I may use that knowledge which I shall attain, to thy glory and my own salvation, for Jesus Christ's sake. Amen.

Prayer for a sick friend

Almighty and most merciful Father, whose loving kindness is over all thy works, behold, visit, and relieve this thy servant, who is grieved with sickness. Grant that the sense of her weakness may add strength to her faith, and seriousness to her repentance. And grant that by the help of thy Holy Spirit, after the pains and labours of this short life, we may all obtain everlasting happiness, through Jesus Christ our Lord, for whose sake hear our prayers. Amen.

Dr Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)

Prayer at the burial of a child

O God, whose ways are hidden and thy works most wonderful, who makest nothing in vain and lovest all that thou hast made: Comfort thou thy servants, whose hearts are sore smitten and oppressed; and grant that they may so love and serve thee in this life, that together with this thy child, they may obtain the fullness of thy promises in the world to come; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Prayer at the burial of the dead

O Father of all, we pray to thee for those whom we love, but see no longer. Grant them thy peace; let light perpetual shine upon them; and in thy loving wisdom and almighty power work in them the good purpose of thy perfect will; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Prayer for those who mourn

Almighty God, Father of all mercies and giver of all comfort: Deal graciously, we pray thee, with those who mourn, that casting every care on thee, they may know the consolation of thy love; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

From the 1928 Edition of the Book of Common Prayer

Q

R

Requiem

May the angels lead you to heaven,
May the saints receive you at your arrival,
And take you into the holy city, Jersualem.
May choirs of angels receive you,
And with Lazarus who once was poor,
May you have eternal rest.

Gabriel Faure, French composer and organist (1845 - 1924)

Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away

My beloved spake, and said unto me, Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away.

For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone.

The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land;

The fig tree putteth forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell. Arise , my love, my fair one, and come away.

Song of Solomon 2: 10-13

Remember now thy Creator

Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them;

While the sun, or the light, or the moon, or the stars, be not darkened, nor the clouds return after the rain:

In the day when the keepers of the house shall tremble, and the strong men shall bow themselves, and the grinders cease because they are few, and those that look out of the windows be darkened,

And the doors shall be shut in the streets, when the sound of the grinding is low, and he shall rise up at the sound of the bird, and all the daughters of music shall be brought low;

Also when they shall be afraid of that which is high, and fears shall be in the way, and the almond tree shall flourish, and the grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire shall fail: because man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets:

Or ever the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern.

Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.

Ecclesiastes 12: 1-7

Rejoice in the Lord always

Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.

Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.

Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

Philippians 4: 4-8

S

T

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want

The Lord is my shepherd: I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:
He leadeth me beside still waters.
He restoreth my soul: He leads me in the
paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow
of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me;
thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence
of mine enemies; thou anointest my head
with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all of the days of my life; and I will dwell
in the house of the Lord for ever.

Psalm 23

To everything there is a season

To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: a time to be born and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.

Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8

The serenity prayer

God, give us grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
courage to change the things that should be changed,
and the wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.

Reinhold Niebuhr, American Protestant theologian (1892 - 1971)

The Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces

He will swallow up death for ever, the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth; for the Lord has spoken.

It will be said on that day, "Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the Lord; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation."

Thou dost keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee, because he trusts in thee. Trust in the Lord for ever, for the Lord is an everlasting rock.

Isaiah 25: 8-9, 26: 3-4

The Lord giveth, the Lord taketh away

The Lord giveth, the Lord taketh away, blessed be the name of the Lord. As we recall the beloved ones who have passed away, these words bring healing to the hurt that death has wrought. Our loved ones have answered the summons that sounds for all men, for we are sojourners upon earth and our times are in His hands.

We loose our hold upon life when our time is come, as the leaf falls from the bough when its day is done. The deeds of the righteous enrich the lives of men as the fallen leaf enriches the soil beneath. The dust returns to the earth, the spirit lives on with God's eternal years.

Like the stars by day, our beloved dead are not seen with mortal eyes, but they shine on in the untroubled firmament of endless time. Let us be thankful for the companionship that continues in love that is stronger than death and spans the gulf of the grave. Cherishing their memory, let us, in the presence of the congregation, sanctify the name of God.

From the Union Prayerbook for Jewish Worship

 

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.

And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity , I am nothing.

And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and although I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,

Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;

Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;

Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.

For we know in part, and we prophesy in part,

But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.

When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man I put away childish things,

For now we see through a glass darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

1 Corinthians 13: 1-end

U

V

W

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.

For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come

Nor height, nor depth, nor any othe,other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8: 35, 37-end

Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?

At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?

And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them,

And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.

Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.

Matthew 18: 1-5

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