A reading at a funeral can mean a number of things. It could be a eulogy, it could be a reading from a religious text, it could be a reading from a book, or it could be a reading from a poem.
There is no set thing that a reading should be. It can be as long or as short as you like. And you can have as many or as few as you like.
The main considerations you need to take into account are:
How long is the funeral service? This is so your reading(s) doesn't take up too much time of the service.
Is the reading perfect for the deceased? So you can do your loved one proud.
Below are two of the most popular readings in the UK - you may have heard them at a funeral you have been to, because they're both timeless classics.
Death is Nothing at All was first published in 1909 while The Parting Glass goes back much further with the earliest known printed version appearing in 1770.
Both of these funeral readings are popular for their ability to provide comfort, reflection, and a sense of hope during a funeral service, and may be perfect for you and your family.
Death is nothing at all. I have only slipped away to the next room. I am I and you are you. Whatever we were to each other, That, we still are.
Call me by my old familiar name. Speak to me in the easy way which 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 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 effect. Without the trace of a shadow on it.
Life means all that it ever meant. It is the same that it ever was. There is absolute unbroken continuity. Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight?
I am but 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!
Of all the money that e’er I spent, I’ve spent it in good company, And all the harm that ever I did, Alas it was to none but me, And all I've done for want of wit, To memory now I can’t recall, So fill to me the parting glass, Good night and joy be with you all.
If I had money enough to spend, And leisure to sit awhile, There is a fair maid in the town, That sorely has my heart beguiled, Her rosy cheeks and ruby lips, I own she has my heart enthralled, So fill to me the parting glass, Good night and joy be with you all.
Oh, all the comrades that e’er I had, They’re sorry for my going away, And all the sweethearts that e’er I had, They’d wish me one more day to stay, But since it falls unto my lot, That I should rise and you should not, I'll gently rise and softly call, Good night and joy be with you all.
If I had money enough to spend, And leisure time to sit awhile, There is a fair maid in this town, That sorely has my heart beguiled. Her rosy cheeks and ruby lips, I own she has my heart in thrall, Then fill to me the parting glass, Good night and joy be with you all.
Crematorium Assistant at Parndon Wood Crematorium
"As part of my role at Parndon Wood Crematorium I’ve witnessed and been moved by some of the funeral readings I’ve heard. They create such a personal touch and have a profound impact on the service and those attending. Some, especially close family may struggle to find the ‘right’ words to say to express their love and choosing a special poem, reading or even a song lyric to read helps them at such a difficult time and can leave them feeling that they still contributed to the service which in turn helps in some small way to heal from their loss."
For those seeking non-religious expressions of comfort and contemplation, below are two popular non-religious funeral readings which provide poignancy and meaning in very different ways.
Both examples below are classics. J.R.R. Tolkien's reading actually comes from both The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, and was often sung by Bilbo Baggins while he was out on an adventure.
The Life That I Have was used by the British throughout World War II, but was originally written by Marks in memory of his girlfriend.
The life that I have, Is all that I have, And the life that I have, Is yours
The love that I have, Of the life that I have, Is yours and yours and yours.
A sleep I shall have, A rest I shall have, Yet death will be but a pause, For the peace of my years, In the long green grass, Will be yours and yours and yours.
Roads go ever ever on, Over rock and under tree, By caves where never sun has shone, By streams that never find the sea; Over snow by winter sown, And through the merry flowers of June, Over grass and over stone, And under mountains in the moon.
Roads go ever ever on Under cloud and under star, Yet feet that wandering have gone Turn at last to home afar. Eyes that fire and sword have seen And horror in the halls of stone Look at last on meadows green And trees and hills they long have known.
Roads go ever on and on Out from the door where it began. Now far ahead the Road has gone, Let others follow it who can! Let them a journey new begin, But I at last with weary feet Will turn towards the lighted inn, My evening-rest and sleep to meet.
In moments of loss and remembrance, Bible readings can provide a comfort source that can express faith, hope, and belief in a higher purpose.
There are many different Bible passages that are read at funerals, and many Christians will have psalms and passages that are special to them. The two we've picked below are two of the most popular.
The Lord's Prayer is read at most funerals conducted by most Christian denominations, while Psalm 23 became common at English-speaking funerals in the early 20th century.
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.
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.
Some of the most popular funeral readings are some of the most uplifting funeral readings.
These readings, characterised by their positive and affirming messages, serve as beacons of light during times of grief, which focus on the beauty of life, the impact of cherished memories, and the resilience of the human spirit.
And they might just be funeral readings that you'd like at your funeral, or that of a loved one.
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.
If I should go before the rest of you
Break not a flower nor inscribe a stone
Nor when I’m gone speak in a Sunday voice
But be the usual selves that I have known
Weep if you must
Parting is Hell
But life goes on,
So sing as well.
The beauty of the internet is that you can find funeral readings that have been written for specific members of the family from throughout time, and below are two of our favourite funeral readings for Dad.
However, honouring a father's life and legacy is a deeply personal and heartfelt journey.
So if these two examples don't work for you, you could always adapt them to make them personal for your father.
You can shed tears that he is gone,
or you can smile because he has lived.
You can close your eyes and pray that he'll come back,
or you can open your eyes and see all he's left.
Your heart can be empty because you can't see him,
or you can be full of the love you shared.
You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday,
or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday.
You can remember him only that he is gone,
or you can cherish his memory and let it live on.
You can cry and close your mind,
be empty and turn your back.
Or you can do what he'd want:
smile, open your eyes, love and go on.
'Old men forget!' aye it may well be so.
But youth remembers all the magic spun
and woven in the warm fraternal glow
of your companionship. Your day is done?
It is not true. You know you left behind
a memory of courage which the years
can but increase. And we, your heirs, will find
that in good truth there's nothing here for tears.
So be it. This your legacy to youth -
to make the best of all your days
and finally to recognise the truth
and you have shown us, silhouetted, stark
that though we love the sunlight's summer rays
we need not fear the coming of the dark.
Funeral readings for mums can play a crucial role in capturing the essence, wisdom, and love that define the unique bond between a mother and her children.
There are many different examples of mother funeral readings that have been written throughout time, but below are two of our favourites.
Each is a little different. Wonderful Mother is more focused on the gratefulness of being given the gift of a Mother, while the Irish Funeral Prayer is a sweet prayer about missing that special person.
God made a wonderful mother,
A mother who never grows old;
He made her smile of the sunshine.
And He moulded her heart of pure gold;
In her eyes He placed bright shining stars,
In her cheeks fair roses you see;
God made a wonderful mother,
And He gave that dear mother to me.
You can only have one mother
Patient kind and true;
No other friend in all the world,
Will be the same to you.
When other friends forsake you,
To mother you will return,
For all her loving kindness,
She asks nothing in return.
As we look upon her picture,
Sweet memories we recall,
Of a face so full of sunshine,
And a smile for one and all.
Sweet Jesus, take this message,
To our dear mother up above;
Tell her how we miss her,
And give her all our love.
Grandfathers often embody a wealth of wisdom, warmth, and a host of treasured stories that become an integral part of our and our family's lives.
Below are a couple of short funeral readings for Grandad that you may enjoy or may like to take inspiration from.
Both of them may be quite specific, so you may want to change them up to make them more personal for you, if you'd like.
We know you can no longer stay with us,
you fought long and hard to be with us.
We know you now watch over and protect us.
Although we cannot hear your voice or see your smiling face,
We know deep down in our hearts that you have not left us.
And now that you're not here, Grandad
I'll give double hugs to Nan.
Goodnight, God bless you, Grandad,
From your loving ‘little man’
In the moment of saying farewell to a cherished grandmother, a funeral reading can serve as a touching tribute to the enduring love of a grandmother's bond with their grandchildren.
Both of these funeral readings for Nan, Grandma or Gran are beautiful, in their own distinct way.
Grandmother, in particular, ends so beautifully, while Nanny is also just full of love and sweetness throughout.
Such wonderful memories of Nanny
The Nanny we all used to know
We kept you too long and there waiting
The angels have said you can go
Bright golden gates that are shining
Full of family to bid you hello
So blow us a kiss as you’re leaving
Our sadness we’ll try not to show
Such wonderful memories of Nanny
We all have our favorites you see
As you enter those gates you’ll be thinking
They’re all there thinking of me!
God looked around his garden
and found an empty space.
Then he looked down upon this earth
And saw your tired face.
He put his arms around you
And lifted you to rest.
God’s garden must be beautiful
He only takes the best.
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Want some time to digest the details? You can download a PDF of our arranging a funeral guide online or get a printed copy.Get our guide
Looking for more? Below are a few further articles that you may be interested in.
Many of us know what music we want to have at our funerals. But if you or your loved ones are stuck for ideas, this article may help.Funeral music ideas
You don't have to be religious to enjoy a hymn. Hymns have a special place in many of our hearts and can fit a funeral perfectly.Funeral hymn ideas
Not everyone likes to have a poem at their funeral, but a poem can unlock the heart in a way few things can. Here are a few ideas.Funeral poem ideas
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