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Readings and Poems for a Funeral Service

A funeral usually features a range of readings. Inviting close family and friends to deliver a funeral reading is a lovely way of including others in the remembrance process. By touching on different themes, each reading serves to honour the memory, interests and beliefs of the deceased.

At Bethel, we know that there are a multitude of decisions to be made when planning a funeral. We have put together this selection of memorial poems and quotes to help families with the task of choosing funeral readings.

Poems

Poetry is a heart-warming way to share memories and honour the deceased. Listening to a loved one read poetry aloud can be a very moving experience. Here are three popular examples that you can use to invite remembrance through poetry readings.

Remember

Remember me when I am gone away,
gone far away into the silent land;
when you can no more hold me by the hand,
nor I half turn to go yet turning stay.

Remember me when no more, day by day
you tell me of our future that you planned:
only remember me; you understand
it will be late to counsel them or pray.
Yet if you should forget me for a while
and afterwards remember, do not grieve:
For if the darkness and corruption leave
a vestige of the thoughts I once had,
better by far you should forget and smile
than that you should remember and be sad.

Christina Rossetti

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.

W H Auden

God’s Garden

God looked around his garden
And found an empty place,
He then looked down upon the earth
And saw your tired face.
He put his arms around you
And lifted you to rest.
God’s garden must be beautiful
He always takes the best.
He knew that you were suffering
He knew you were in pain.
He knew that you would never
Get well on earth again.
He saw the road was getting rough
And the hills were hard to climb.
So he closed your weary eyelids
And whispered, ‘Peace be thine’.
It broke our hearts to lose you
But you didn’t go alone,
For part of us went with you
The day God called you home.

Anonymous

 

Readings

Scripture, prayers, song lyrics and even excerpts from favourite movies and books can be included as funeral readings. Try to let the passions and interests of your loved one guide you when you are choosing memorial readings for a funeral. Here is a selection of popular choices for funeral service readings.

A Prayer for the Deceased

Receive in tranquillity and peace, O Lord, the souls of your servants who have departed this present life to come to you.

Grant them rest and place them in the habitations of light, the abodes of blessed spirits.

Give them the life that will not age, good things that will not pass away, delights that have no end, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Saint Ignatius of Antioch

Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There is a Season)

To everything, turn, turn, turn
There is a season, turn, turn, turn
And a time for every purpose, under heaven

A time to be born, a time to die
A time to plant, a time to reap
A time to kill, a time to heal
A time to laugh, a time to weep

To everything, turn, turn, turn
There is a season, turn, turn, turn
And a time for every purpose, under heaven

A time to build up, a time to break down
A time to dance, a time to mourn
A time to cast away stones, a time to gather stones together

To everything, turn, turn, turn
There is a season, turn, turn, turn
And a time for every purpose, under heaven

A time of love, a time of hate
A time of war, a time of peace
A time you may embrace, a time to refrain from embracing

To everything, turn, turn, turn
There is a season, turn, turn, turn
And a time for every purpose, under heaven

A time to gain, a time to lose
A time to rend, a time to sew
A time to love, a time to hate
A time for peace, I swear it’s not too late

The Byrds

 

No Matter What (an excerpt)

“Does love wear out,” said Small, “does it break or bend? Can you fix it, stick it, does it mend?”

“Oh help,” said Large, “I’m not that clever. I just know I’ll love you forever.”

Small said: “But what about when you’re dead and gone – would you love me then, does love go on?”

Large held Small snug as they looked out at the night, at the moon in the dark and the stars shining bright.

“Small, look at the stars – how they shine and glow. Yet some of those stars died a long time ago. Still they shine in the evening skies… love, like starlight, never dies”.

Debi Gliori

 

Quotes

Drawing inspiration from quotes and sayings is a meaningful way to express emotion in a funeral service. Choosing to quote people who were admired by the deceased is a thoughtful way to personalise a memorial service.

Here is a selection of comforting quotes you might like to consider for readings at the funeral of your loved one.

Say not in grief that she is no more
but say in thankfulness that she was
A death is not the extinguishing of a light,
but the putting out of the lamp
because the dawn has come.
Rabindranath Tagore 

I fall asleep in the full and certain hope
That my slumber shall not be broken;
And that, though I be all-forgetting,
Yet shall I not be all-forgotten,
But continue that life in the thoughts and deeds
of those I have loved.
Samuel Butler

Perhaps they are not the stars, but rather openings in heaven where the love of our lost ones pours through and shines down upon us to let us know they are happy.
Eskimo legend

Memorial poems and quotes are a wonderful way of expressing respect, admiration and love for the deceased. The funeral readings you choose to feature will be of comfort to others. Funeral readings can help the grieving come to terms with sadness and loss.

Our eulogy planning guide includes a variety of scripture readings, poems, hymns and songs as well as a template for you to follow. You are welcome to draw from this selection and include our suggestions in the funeral service for your loved one.

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