Funeral Readings: What to Say When You *Can’t Even*

What can you quote or read at a funeral that will honor your loved one and encapsulate how much they mean to you?

This is a difficult task to undertake, especially when you will be reading or reciting in front of a group of people. Your emotions are heightened; you want to say something relevant and meaningful. But what?

Take a deep breath and read on.

We have compiled a list of funeral readings for you. You are welcome to borrow one or two, combine them to make your own, or even read them verbatim.

What is a Funeral Reading?

A funeral reading is anything that is read, said, spoken, sung, or printed at a funeral or memorial service.

Funeral readings include:

  • Poems
  • Scriptures
  • Prayers
  • Eulogies
  • Tributes
  • Quotes
  • Songs and music
  • Hymns and other songs sung congregationally

You can write your own funeral readings, or use any of the selections below for inspiration.

10 Most Popular Funeral Readings

1. Psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
    He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
    for his name’s sake.

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.

You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord

2. Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep

Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow;
I am the diamond glints on the snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain;
I am the gentle autumn’s rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft star that shines at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry.
I am not there; I did not die.

3. Amazing Grace

Amazing grace
How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now I’m found
Was blind, but now I see

‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear
And grace my fears relieved
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed

The Lord has promised good to me
His word my hope secures
He will my shield and portion be
As long as life endures

The Earth shall soon dissolve like snow
The sun forbear to shine
But God, who called me here below
Will be forever mine

By John Newton

4. Crossing the Bar

Sunset and evening star,
      And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
      When I put out to sea,

   But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
      Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
      Turns again home.

   Twilight and evening bell,
      And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
      When I embark;

   For tho’ from out our bourne of Time and Place
      The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
      When I have crost the bar.

By Alfred, Lord Tennyson

5. John 14:1-3

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.

6. Funeral Blues

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message ‘He is Dead’.
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;

I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now; put out every one,
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun,
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

By W.H. Auden

7. Irish Funeral Blessing

May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of his hand.

8. Death Is Nothing at All

Death is nothing at all
I have only slipped away into the next room
I am I and you are you
Whatever we were to each other
That we are still
Call me by my old familiar name
Speak to me in the easy way you always used
Put no difference into your tone
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow
Laugh as we always laughed
At the little jokes we always enjoyed together
Play, smile, think of me, pray for me
Let my name be ever the household word that it always was
Let it be spoken without effort
Without the ghost of a shadow in it
Life means all that it ever meant
It is the same as it ever was
There is absolute unbroken continuity
What is death but a negligible accident?
Why should I be out of mind
Because I am out of sight?
I am waiting for you for an interval
Somewhere very near
Just around the corner
All is well.
Nothing is past; nothing is lost
One brief moment and all will be as it was before
How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting when we meet again!

By Canon Henry Scott-Holland

9. Matthew 11:28-30

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke on you and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy to bear, and my load is not hard to carry.”

10. For Whom the Bell Tolls

No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thine own
Or of thine friend’s were.
Each man’s death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.

By John Donne

5 Beautiful Funeral Poems

Sometimes poetry is the best way to express what you’re feeling.

1. There is No Night Without a Dawning

No winter without a spring
And beyond the dark horizon
Our hearts will once more sing ….
For those who leave us for a while
Have only gone away
Out of a restless, care worn world
Into a brighter day

By Helen Steiner Rice

2. Afterglow

I’d like the memory of me to be a happy one.
I’d like to leave an afterglow of smiles when life is done.
I’d like to leave an echo whispering softly down the ways,
Of happy times and laughing times and bright and sunny days.
I’d like the tears of those who grieve, to dry before the sun;
Of happy memories that I leave when life is done.

By Helen Lowrie Marshall

3. Not, How Did He Die, But How Did He Live?

Not, how did he die, but how did he live?
Not, what did he gain, but what did he give?
These are the units to measure the worth
Of a man as a man, regardless of his birth.
Nor what was his church, nor what was his creed?
But had he befriended those really in need?
Was he ever ready, with words of good cheer,
To bring back a smile, to banish a tear?
Not what did the sketch in the newspaper say,
But how many were sorry when he passed away?


4. After the Funeral

The funeral is over,
And everyone has gone home.
It’s just me and my thoughts now,
And I’m sitting here alone.

The house seems so quiet,
and I’m not sure what to do.
I can’t remember how I lived
Before the day that I met you.

Maybe I should just stop thinking.
And take myself to bed.
I’ll crawl beneath the covers,
And lay down my weary head.

Tomorrow is a new day,
The first of many that I’ll face
Without you here beside me,
Without your strength, your wit, your grace.

I’ll try to carry on
Or at least I’ll try to exist.
Until one day you reach for me,
And guide me into death’s mist.

By Kelly Roper

5. In Our Minds

We stand motionless,
consumed in grief.
Sorrow has arrived,
with smiles thief.

We’re gathered here,
to mourn and cry.
Our questions pointing,
at the clear blue sky.

Why did you go,
why did you leave,
Life without you,
is so hard to conceive.

Our hearts are damaged,
and scarred severely.
We shall miss you,
much more than dearly.

For having you in our lives,
we’ve all been blessed.
But now the time has arrived,
for you to rest.

We promise to cherish,
our memories of you.
You shall live in our minds,
and all that we do.

Author Unknown

More: 101 Funeral Poems

5 Meaningful Funeral Scriptures

These Bible passages have been read at funerals for generations, and still provide comfort and assurance to those who mourn.

1. Matthew 5:4

Blessed are those who mourn,
    for they will be comforted.

2. Psalm 34:18

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
    and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

3. Job 19:25-27

I know that my redeemer lives,
    and that in the end he will stand on the earth.
And after my skin has been destroyed,
    yet in my flesh I will see God;
I myself will see him
    with my own eyes—I, and not another.
    How my heart yearns within me!

4. Romans 8:28

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose for them.

5. Lamentations 3:31-33

For no one is cast off by the Lord forever.
Though he brings grief, he will show compassion,
    so great is his unfailing love.
For he does not willingly bring affliction
    or grief to anyone.

5 Quotes for a Eulogy

These famous quotes provide incredible insight in just a few words.

1. Love Never Dies

The song is ended, but the melody lingers on…

By Irving Berlin

2. Memories

God gave us memory so we may have
roses in December.

By J.M. Barrie

3. Create a Legacy

The idea is not to live forever
but to create something that will.

By Andy Warhol

4. A Shattered Heart Still Beats

“I am living proof that a shattered heart can still beat.”

By Maryellen Dennis

5. Turning the Page

It’s hard to turn the page when you know someone won’t
be in the next chapter, but the story must go on.

Author Unknown


5 Beautiful Funeral Prayers

Writing out a thoughtful prayer is a wonderful way to bring your loved one and the community’s grief before the Lord.

1. We Live to the Lord Prayer

Father, remind us as we gather for this memorial that none of us lives to himself and none of us dies to himself. We are yours, whether we are living in this life or whether we have passed into the life beyond. If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord, for they rest from their labor. You give, and you take away. Blessed be your name, our Creator and our Sustainer. Amen.

2. Comfort Prayer

Lord, we thank you for enabling us to gather here today so that we can celebrate a life well-lived. As we start this funeral service, we ask for the presence of the Holy Spirit in this place. May he bring comfort to every one of us so that we can be able to mourn as believers. Holy Spirit, take full control and help us do this unto God and not as unto ourselves. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

3. Thanksgiving for the Resurrection

God of all grace, we lift up thanksgiving for the provision of your Son, Jesus, our Savior. Truly, Christ has indeed been raised from the dead as the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. As in Adam, all die, so in Christ, all will be made alive. We thank you for the hope that our dear one belongs to you and will be resurrected when you return in glory. And now, as we celebrate the life of our loved one, we celebrate the immortality that is our confident expectation. Amen.

4. Praise That Death Is Under His Feet

Merciful Lord, we gather in this time of bereavement, giving thanks that the last enemy to be destroyed is death. We praise you that death is under your feet. You have conquered death, and in you, we also are victors. We weep now, but we rejoice that our loved one is in your presence and that we will not be parted forever. We look forward to that final day when you return in glory, and the dead in Christ shall rise first, and we shall all meet you in the sky. Amen.

5. Praise for Immortality

Father, we thank you for the mystery that is our confident expectation. We thank you that in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet, we will all be changed. We thank you that our temporary bodies will be clothed with eternal, immortal, glorified bodies. May we find comfort in this promise, even as we grieve the passing of our beloved from this life. May anyone here who does not know you take hold of this promise and finds redemption in Christ. Amen.

More: Funeral Prayers for a Christian’s Funeral Service

5 Inspirational Tributes

No one has touched my life as you have. From the cradle to now, you have been my strength. No one will love me unconditionally as you have loved me. Mom, you will be missed.

My one true comfort is that we will meet again; Jesus has promised us this. So, I will see you again, my sweet friend.

To My Father: You taught me the most important things in life; how to fish, how to drive, how to change a tire, and fill the tank with gas. But most of all, you taught me to love and accept, to be patient and kind. I will miss you always, Dad, until we meet again.

Uncle Michael was a great man. Not in a way that the world sees greatness, but the way a child does. Uncle Mike loved us kids, and he loved animals. There is something great about a man that loves kids and animals.

It’s so hard to say goodbye. But what a fantastic reunion we will have!

Related: 10 Creative Memorial Tributes

More: Funeral Toasts: What to Say When You Raise a Glass in Memory

5 Popular Funeral Songs

  1. You Raise Me Up – Josh Grobin
  2. Wind Beneath My Wings – Bette Midler
  3. Candle In The Wind – Elton John
  4. Supermarket Flowers – Ed Sheeran (For Mom)
  5. Go Rest High – Vince Gill

More: The Best Funeral Songs of All Time

5 Famous Funeral Hymns

Each of these classic hymns have multiple verses, which often cover a broad brushstroke of life on earth and our relationship with God in heaven. We’re including the most resonant verses for mourners.

How Great Thou Art

When Christ shall come, with shout of acclamation
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart
Then I shall bow, in humble adoration
And then proclaim, my God, how great Thou art

The Old Rugged Cross

To the old rugged cross I will ever be true
It’s shame and reproach gladly bear
Then he’ll call me some day to my home far away
Where his glory forever I’ll share

Beautiful Savior

Fair is the sunshine, Fair is the moonlight, 
Bright the sparkling stars on high; 
Jesus shines brighter, Jesus shines purer 
Than all the angels in the sky.

Just As I Am

Just as I am, Thou wilt receive
Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve
Because Thy promise I believe
O Lamb of God, I come, I come

Abide With Me

I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless
Ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness
Where is death’s sting?
Where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still, if Thou abide with me

More: 21 Beautifully Christ-Centered Funeral Hymns

Now that you have finished reading this our collection of funeral readings, you should have some good ideas for prayers, songs, Scriptures, and tributes.

All of these pieces are a common part of a funeral. Use something that your loved one has told you is their favorite; it doesn’t have to be a typical funeral song or reading. It would be best if you made it appropriate for a general audience. The main point is to honor your loved one.

Read Next: The 50 Best ‘In Loving Memory’ Quotes

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