16 religious & non religious funeral readings

Most funerals will have some space for readings dotted throughout. You may like to have one, you may like to have a few. They can be written about the deceased, or they can be readings from a favourite book or religious text. The choice is yours.

Readings for funerals

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.

Popular non religious funeral readings

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.

Non religious funeral readings



The Life That I Have by Leo Marks

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 On by J.R.R. Tolkien

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.

Bible readings for funerals

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.

Bible funeral readings



The Lord's Prayer, Traditional Version

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.

Psalm 23, A Psalm for David

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.

Uplifting funeral readings

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.

Uplifting funeral readings



Afterglow by Helen Lowrie Marshall

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.

Death (If I Should Go) by Joyce Grenfell

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.

Funeral readings for Dad

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.

Funeral readings for Dad



He is Gone by David Harkins

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 by Stanley of Alderley

'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 Mum

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.

Funeral readings for Mum



Wonderful Mother by Pat O'Reilly

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.

Irish Funeral Prayer

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.

Funeral readings for Grandad

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.

Funeral readings for Grandad



Grandad by Fiona Bourke

Grandad,

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.

For My Grandad by Dennis Taylor

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’

Funeral readings for Nan

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.

Funeral readings for Nan



Nanny by Laura White

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!

Grandmother by Unknown

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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Other helpful articles

Looking for more? Below are a few further articles that you may be interested in.

Funeral music

Modern funeral music

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

Funeral hymns

Funeral hymns

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

Funeral poems

Funeral poems

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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