Bible Readings, Prayers and Blessings
If your loved one was a member of the Christian faith and it was their wish to have a religious funeral, Bible readings can form an important part of the service. Verses from the Bible can help acknowledge the loss of someone and bring comfort for Christians mourning the death of a friend or relative.
For Everything There Is a Season
For everything there is a season, and time for every matter under heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die;
A time to plant, and a time to pluck up what 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 throw 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 throw away;
A time to tear, 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 time for peace.
Rejoice and be Glad, for your Reward will be Great in Heaven
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew
Seeing the crowds, Jesus went up the hill. There he sat down and was joined by his disciples. Then he began to speak. This is what he taught them:
“How happy are the poor in spirit; theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Happy the gentle: they shall have the earth for their heritage.
Happy those who mourn: they shall be comforted.
Happy those who hunger and thirst for what is right: they shall be satisfied.
Happy the merciful: they shall have mercy shown them.
Happy the pure in heart: they shall see God.
Happy the peacemakers: they shall be called sons of God.
Happy those who are persecuted in the cause of right: theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Happy are you when people abuse you and persecute you and speak all kinds of calumny against you on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.”
He will Transfigure these Wretched Bodies of Ours into Copies of his Glorious Body
A reading from the letter of St Paul to the Philippians 3:20–21
For us, our homeland is in heaven, and from heaven comes the saviour we are waiting for, the Lord Jesus Christ, and he will transfigure these wretched bodies of ours into copies of his glorious body. He will do that by the same power with which he can subdue the whole universe.
The Lord is My Shepherd
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures;
He leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul;
He leadeth 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 the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.
Let us Live a New Life
A reading from the letter of St Paul to the Romans 6:3–9
When we were baptised in Christ Jesus we were baptised in his death; in other words, when we were baptised we went into the tomb with him and joined him in death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the Father’s glory, we too might live a new life.
If in union with Christ we have imitated his death, we shall also imitate him in his resurrection. We must realise that our former selves have been crucified with him to destroy this sinful body and to free us from the slavery of sin. When a man dies, of course, he has finished with sin.
But we believe that having died with Christ we shall return to life with him: Christ, as we know, having been raised from the dead will never die again. Death has no power over him anymore.
There are Many Rooms in my Father’s House
A reading from the holy Gospel according to John 14:1–6
Jesus said to his disciples:
“Do not let your hearts be troubled.
Trust in God still, and trust in me.
There are many rooms in my Father’s house;
If there were not, I should have told you.
I am going now to prepare a place for you,
And after I have gone and prepared you a place,
I shall return to take you with me;
So that where I am
You may be too.
You know the way to the place where I am going.
Thomas said, ‘Lord, we do not know where you are going, so how can we know the way?’
‘I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.
No one can come to the Father except through me.”
I Want Them to be With Me Where I Am
A reading from the holy Gospel according to John 17:24–26
Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said:
I want those you have given me
To be with me where I am,
So that they may always see the glory
You have given me
Because you loved me
Before the foundation of the world.
Father, Righteous One,
The world has not known you,
But I have known you,
And these have known
That you have sent me.
I have made your name known to them
And will continue to make it known
So that the love with which you loved me may be in them,
And so that I may be in them.”
Lazarus, Come Out
A reading from the holy Gospel according to John 11:32–45
Mary the sister of Lazarus went to Jesus, and as soon as she saw him she threw herself at his feet, saying, Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.’ At the sight of her tears, and those of the Jews who followed her, Jesus said in great distress, with a sigh that came straight from the heart, ‘Where have you put him?’ They said, ‘Lord, come and see’. Jesus wept; and the Jews said, ‘See how much he loved him!’ But there were some who remarked, ‘He opened the eyes of the blind man, could he not have prevented this man’s death?’ Still sighing, Jesus reached the tomb: it was a cave with a stone to close the opening. Jesus said, ‘Take the stone away.’ Martha said to him, ‘Lord, by now he will smell; this is the fourth day.’ Jesus replied, ‘Have I not told you that if you believe you will see the glory of God?’ So they took away the stone. Then Jesus lifted up his eyes and said:
“Father, I thank you for hearing my prayer. I knew indeed that you always hear me, but I speak for the sake of all these who stand round me, so that they may believe it was you who sent me.’
When he had said this, he cried in a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, here! Come out!’ The dead man came out, his feet and hands bound with bands of stuff and a cloth round his face. Jesus said to them, ‘Unbind him, let him go free.”
Many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary and had seen what he did believed in him.
If a Wheat Grain Dies, it Yields a Rich Harvest
A reading from the holy Gospel according to John 12:23–26
Jesus said to his disciples:
“Now the hour has come
For the Son of Man to be glorified.
I tell you, most solemnly,
Unless a wheat grain falls on the ground and dies,
It remains only a single grain;
But if it dies,
It yields a rich harvest.
Anyone who loves his life loses it;
Anyone who hates his life in this world
Will keep it for the eternal life.
If a man serves me, he must follow me,
Wherever I am, my servant will be there too.
If anyone serves me, my Father will honour him.”
Whoever Believes in the Son has Eternal Life and I shall Raise Him Up on the Last Day
A reading from the holy Gospel according to John 6:37–40
Jesus said to the crowd:
‘All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I shall not turn him away; because I have come from heaven, not to do my own will, but to do the will of the one who sent me. Now the will of him who sent me is that I should lose nothing of all that he has given to me, and that I should raise it up on the last day. Yes, it is my Father’s will that whoever sees the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and that I shall raise him up on the last day.’
I am the Resurrection and the Life
A reading from the holy Gospel according to John 11:21–27
Martha said to Jesus, ‘If you had been here, my brother would not have died, but I know that, even now, whatever you ask of God, he will grant you’. ‘Your brother,’ said Jesus to her, ‘will rise again.’ Martha said, ‘I know he will rise again at the resurrection on the last day’. Jesus said: ‘I am the resurrection and the life. If anyone believes in me, even though he dies he will live, and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?’
‘Yes, Lord,’ she said, ‘I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who was to come into this world.’
The Bridegroom is Here! Go Out and Meet Him
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew 25:1–13
Jesus spoke this parable to his disciples:
‘The kingdom of heaven will be like this; Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were sensible: the foolish ones did take their lamps, but they brought no oil, whereas the sensible ones took flasks of oil as well as their lamps. The bridegroom was late and they all grew drowsy and fell asleep. But at midnight there was a cry. “The bridegroom is here! Go out and meet him.”
At this, all those bridesmaids woke up and trimmed their lamps, and the foolish ones said to the sensible ones,” Give us some of your oil: our lamps are going out”. But they replied, “There may not be enough for us and for you; you had better go to those who sell it and buy some for yourselves”. They had gone off to buy it when the bridegroom arrived. Those who were ready went in with him to the wedding hall and the door was closed. The other bridesmaids arrived later. “Lord, Lord,” they said, “open the door for us.” But he replied, “I tell you solemnly, I do not know you”. So, stay awake, because you do not know either the day or the hour.’
Anyone who Eats this Bread has Eternal Life, and I shall Raise Him Up on the Last Day.
A reading from the holy Gospel according to John 6:51–58
Jesus said to the crowd:
‘I am the living bread which has come down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live for ever; and the bread that I shall give is my flesh, for the life of the world.’
Then the Jews started arguing with one another: ‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat?’ they said. Jesus replied: ‘I tell you most solemnly, if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you will not have life in you. Anyone who does eat my flesh and drink my blood has eternal life, and I shall raise him up on the last day.
For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood lives in me and I live in him. As I, who am sent by the living Father, myself draw life from the Father, so whoever eats me will draw life from me. This is the bread come down from heaven; not like the bread our ancestors ate: they are dead, but anyone who eats this bread will live for ever.’
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Luke 12:35–40
Jesus said to his disciples: ‘See that you are dressed for action and have your lamps lit. Be like men waiting for their master to return from the wedding feast, ready to open the door as soon as he comes and knocks.
Happy those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes. I tell you solemnly, he will put on an apron, sit them down at table and wait on them. It may be in the second watch he comes, or in the third, but happy those servants if he finds them ready.
You may be quite sure of this, that if the householder had known at what hour the burglar would come, he would not have let anyone break through the wall of his house. You too must stand ready, because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.’
Come to Me, and I Will Give you Rest
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew 11:25–30
Jesus exclaimed, ‘I bless you, Father, Lord of heaven and of earth, for hiding these things from the learned and the clever and revealing them to mere children. Yes, Father, for that is what it pleased you to do. Everything has been entrusted to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, just as no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
‘Come to me, all you who labour and are overburdened, and I will give you rest. Shoulder my yoke and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Yes, my yoke is easy and my burden light.’
Whoever Listens to my Words and Believes has Passed from Death to Life.
A reading from the holy Gospel according to John 5:24–29
Jesus said to the Jews:
I tell you most solemnly, whoever listens to my words, and believes in the one who sent me has eternal life; without being brought to judgement he has passed from death to life. I tell you most solemnly, the hour will come — in fact, it is here already — when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and all who hear it will live. For the Father, who is the source of life, has made the Son the source of life; and, because he is the Son of Man, has appointed him supreme judge.
Do not be surprised at this, for the hour is coming when the dead will leave their graves at the sound of his voice; those who did good will rise again to life; and those who did evil, to condemnation. I can do nothing by myself; I can only judge as I am told to judge, and my judging is just, because my aim is to do not my own will, but the will of him who sent me.’
Untarnished Life, This is Ripe Old Age
A reading from the Book of Wisdom 4:7–15
The virtuous man, though he die before his time, will find rest. Length of days is not what makes age honourable, nor number of years the true measure of life; understanding, this is man’s grey hairs, untarnished life, this is ripe old age. He has sought to please God, so God has loved him; as he was living among sinners, he has been taken up.
He has been carried off so that evil may not warp his understanding or treachery seduce his soul; for the fascination of evil throws good things into the shade, and the whirlwind of desire corrupts a simple heart. Coming to perfection in so short a while, he achieved long life; his soul being pleasing to the Lord, he has taken him quickly from the wickedness around him. Yet people look on, uncomprehending; it does not enter their heads that grace and mercy await the chosen of the Lord, and protection, his holy ones.
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”
“For I am sure that neither death nor life … nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
Prayers or a Blessing Often Bring Great Comfort
A memorial prayer is a beautiful way to express what just what the person meant to the people mourning them. The Lord’s Prayer is often part of the order of service at ceremonies centred around the Christian faith, but there are other prayers and non-religious blessings that are suitable for a friend or relative to offer up at a memorial or celebration of life. These blessings and prayers to say at a service may inspire you.
The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever.
Funeral Blessing for a Loved One
May you always walk in sunshine,
and God around you flow.
For the happiness you gave us,
No one will ever know.
It broke our hearts to lose you,
But you did not go alone.
A part of us went with you
The day God called you home.
A million times we needed you
A million times we cried.
If love could only have saved you
You would have never died.
The Lord be with you and may you rest in peace.
A Celtic Death Blessing
I pray that you will have the blessing of being consoled.
May you know in your soul that there is no need to be afraid.
When your time comes, may you be given every blessing and shelter that you need.
May there be a beautiful welcome for you in the home that you are going to.
You are not going somewhere strange.
You are going back to the home that you never left.
May you have a wonderful urgency to live your life to the full.
May you live compassionately and creatively and transfigure everything that is negative within you and about you.
When you come to die may it be after a long life.
May you be peaceful and happy and in the presence of those who really care for you.
May your going be sheltered and your welcome assured.
May your soul smile in the embrace of your anam cara (soul friend).
Christian Prayer for a Loved One
We are so grateful that you have made us all in your own image, giving us gifts and talents with which to serve you.
Thank you for (loved one’s name) life, and all the years we shared with him/her. We lift him/her to you today, in honour of the good we saw in him/her and the love we felt from him/her.
Please give us the strength to leave him/her in your care, in the knowledge of eternal life through Jesus Christ.
Catholic Funeral Prayer
O God, Creator and Redeemer
Of all Your faithful people
Grant to the souls of all our faithful departed
Your mercy, light and peace
Lord, we pray that those we love
Who have gone before us in faith
May know Your forgiveness for their sins
And the blessings of everlasting life
In the company with the Virgin Mary
And all the angels and saints in ancient Heaven
An Apache Grief Blessing
May the sun bring you energy every day, bringing light into the darkness of your soul.
May the moon softly restore you by light bathing you in the glow of restful sleep and peaceful dreams.
May the rain wash away your worries and cleanse the hurt that sits in your heart.
May the breeze blow new strength into your being, and may you believe in the courage of yourself.
May you walk gently through the world, keeping your loved one with you always, knowing that you are never parted in the beating of your heart.
Non-religious Funeral Blessing
Be free, be strong, be proud of who you have been, know that you will be mourned and missed, that no one can replace you, that you have loved and are beloved.
Move beyond form, flowing like water, feeding on sunlight and moonlight, radiant as the stars in the night sky.
Rest, heal, grow young again.
A Prayer for a Grieving Friend
Today I ask you to help (friend’s name). I ask you to be with them while they struggle in the darkness of grief. May he/she recognise joy in the memories, hope in your love, and peace in the pain. May you walk beside him/her in his/her journey to recovery, filling the void and emptiness with your presence.
An Irish Blessing
May the road rise to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sunshine warm upon your face.
May the rains fall upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the hollow of His hand.
Prayer of Thanks
God our Father,
We thank you that you have made each of us
in your own image, and given us gifts and talents with which to serve you.
We thank you for [Name], the years we shared with him/her, the good we saw in him/her, the love we received from him/her.
Now give us strength and courage to leave him/her in your care, confident in your promise of eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.