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Bible readings for funerals

Bible readings are often an important part of a funeral and memorial service, for those of the Christian faith. Bible readings can honour the deceased, allow a moment to reflect, bring comfort to mourners and pay respect to the Christian faith.

If you are responsible for choosing funeral readings for a loved one’s funeral, this can be challenging, which is especially true if your loved one is religious, but you are not. It is important to note that some religious denominations have a particular set of readings that are preferred; your clergy may be able to help you ensure that the readings you select are best for your service.

The bible verses and prayers listed below are appropriate for a loved one’s funeral, or if you are looking for religious words to write a condolence message or sympathy card.

- Short bible readings for funerals
- Long bible readings for funerals
- Psalms for funerals
- Popular Christian funeral prayers
- Catholic prayers for funerals

 

Short bible readings for funerals

Isaiah 57:1-2
The righteous perish, and no one takes it to heart; the devout are taken away, and no one understands that the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil.

Those who walk uprightly enter into peace; they find rest as they lie in death.


Romans 8:35, 37- 39
Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.


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.”


John 10:27-29
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.

My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.


Ecclesiastes 3:1-4
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance…


2 Corinthians 1:3-4
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.


Matthew 11:28-30
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”


Philippians 1:21-23
For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.

 

Long bible readings for funerals

Job 19:23-27
Oh, that my words were written!
Oh, that they were inscribed in a book!
That they were engraved on a rock
With an iron pen and lead, forever!
For I know that my Redeemer lives,
And He shall stand at last on the earth;
And after my skin is destroyed, this I know,
That in my flesh I shall see God,
Whom I shall see for myself,
And my eyes shall behold, and not another.
How my heart yearns within me!


1 Thessalonians 4:14-17
For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep.

For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.


Revelation 21:1-7

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away."

And the one who was seated on the throne said, "See, I am making all things new." Also he said, "Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true." Then he said to me, "It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life. Those who conquer will inherit these things, and I will be their God and they will be my children.

 

Psalms for funerals

Psalm 23 – 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 forever.


Psalm 121 – The Lord watches over you, and will keep you from harm
I lift up my eyes to the hills;
from where is my help to come?

My help comes from the Lord,
the maker of heaven and earth.

He will not suffer your foot to stumble;
he who watches over you will not sleep.

Behold, he who keeps watch over Israel
shall neither slumber nor sleep.

 The Lord himself watches over you;
the Lord is your shade at your right hand,

So that the sun shall not strike you by day,
neither the moon by night.

The Lord shall keep you from all evil;
it is he who shall keep your soul.

The Lord shall keep watch over your going out
and your coming in,
from this time forth for evermore.

 

Popular Christian funeral prayers

While many people opt for bible readings for funerals, it is also common to use popular prayers as part of the service.


The Lords 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,
forever and ever.

Amen.


Almighty God, in your great love

Almighty God, in your great love
you crafted us by your hand
and breathed life into us by your Spirit.
Although we became a rebellious people,
you did not abandon us to our sin.
In your tender mercy
you sent your Son
to restore in us your image.
In obedience to your will
he gave up his life for us,
bearing in his body our sins on the cross.
By your mighty power
you raised him from the grave
and exalted him to the throne of glory.
Rejoicing in his victory
and trusting in your promise
to make alive all who turn to Christ,
we commend N to your mercy
and we join with all your faithful people
and the whole company of heaven
in the one unending song of praise:
glory and wisdom and honour
be to our God for ever and ever.

Amen.

 

Catholic prayers for funerals

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

Amen

 

It is common for more than one reading to be read at a funeral, often in addition to the eulogy. If you have multiple family members or friends who would like to say a few words, then a few shorter readings, as opposed to one long reading, may be more fitting. If you’ve found the perfect reading but it is on the longer side, you could break up the reading with family members and friends reading a verse each.​

A funeral reading does not have to be religious, we’ve listed a number of popular non-religious funeral readings, should you want to include another reading instead of or as well as a bible reading at your loved one’s funeral. Like funeral readings, funeral poems can also provide comfort and serve as a touching reminder of your loved one.

For more help and advice when arranging a funeral or funeral service for your loved, see our guidance and advice area.

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