Religious Funeral Readings, Scripture, and Spiritual Passages

Religious readings for funerals may include scripture or other spiritual passages. These can honor the deceased, bring comfort to mourners, and pay respect to your faith. Some religious denominations and sects have a particular set of readings that are preferred. Your clergy or spiritual advisor can help you ensure that the readings you select are among those that are best for your service. Special requirements aside, there are a number of passages that are commonly used. Below is a collection of some of the most popular religious readings for funerals. Click on the link to go to the full text of the passage.

Examples of Religious Readings for funerals

Ecclesiastes 3:1-15

There is an appointed time for everything,
and a time for every affair under the heavens.
A time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to uproot the plant.
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.
A time to scatter stones, and a time to gather them;
a time to embrace, and a time to be far from embraces.
A time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away.
A time to rend, and a time to sew;
a time to be silent, and a time to speak.
A time to love, and a time to hate;
a time of war, and a time of peace. Top↑

Ecclesiastes 3:19

What advantage has the worker from his toil?

I have considered the task which God has appointed for men to be busied
about. He has made everything appropriate to its time, and has put the
timeless into their hearts, without men’s ever discovering, from beginning
to end, the work, which God has done. Top↑

Song of Solomon 2: 8-14

Hark! my lover-here he comes
springing across the mountains,
leaping across the hills.
My lover is like a gazelle
or a young stag.
Here he stands behind our wall,
gazing through the windows,
peering through the lattices.
My lover speaks; he says to me,
“Arise, my beloved, my beautiful one, and come!
“For see, the winter is past,
the rains are over and gone.
The flowers appear on the earth,
the time of pruning the vines has come,
and the song of the dove is heard in our land.
The fig tree puts forth its figs,
and the vines, in bloom, give forth fragrance.
Arise, my beloved, my beautiful one, and come!”
“O my dove in the clefts of the rock,
in the secret recesses of the cliff,
Let me see you, let me hear your voice,
For your voice is sweet, and you are lovely.” Top↑

Isaiah 40: 1-11 (183)

Comfort, give comfort to my people,
says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her
that her service is at an end,
her guilt is expiated;
Indeed, she has received from the hand of the Lord
double for all her sins.
A voice cries out:
In the desert prepare the way of the Lord!
Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God!
Every valley shall be filled in,
every mountain and hill shall be made low;
The rugged land shall be made a plain,
the rough country, a broad valley.
Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed
and all mankind shall see it together
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.
A voice says, “Cry out”‘
I answer, “What shall I cry out?”
“All mankind is grass
and all their glory like the flower of the field.
The grass withers, the flower wilts,
when the breath of the Lord blows upon it
[So then, the people is the grass.] Though the grass withers and the flower wilts
the word of our God stands forever.”
Go up onto a high mountain,
Zion, herald of glad tidings;
Cry out at the top of your voice,
Jerusalem, herald of good news!
Fear not to cry out
and say to the cities of Judah:
Here is your God!
Here comes with power
the Lord God,
who rules by his strong arm;
Here is his reward with him,
his recompense before him.
Like a shepherd he feeds his flock;
in his arms he gathers the lambs,
Carrying them in his bosom,
and leading the ewes with care. Top↑

Romans 5: 1-5 (167)

A reading from the letter of Paul to the Romans:

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with
God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access
(by faith) to this grace in which we stand, and we boast in hope of the
glory of God. Not only that, but we even boast of our afflictions, knowing
that affliction produces endurance, and endurance, proven character, and
proven character, hope, and hope does not disappoint, because the love
of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that
has been given to us. Top↑

1 Corinthians 2: 6-10 (77)

A reading from the first letter of Paul to the Corinthians:

Yet we do speak a wisdom to those who are mature, but not a wisdom of
this age, nor of the rulers of this age who are passing away. Rather,
we speak God’s wisdom, mysterious, hidden, which God predetermined before
the ages for our glory, and which none of the rulers of this age knew;
for if they had known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
But as it is written: “What eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, and
what has not entered the human heart, what God has prepared for those
who love him,” this God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the
Spirit scrutinizes everything, even the depths of God. Top↑

1 Thessalonians 5: 1-6, 9-11 (432)

A reading from the first letter of Paul to the Thessalonians:

Concerning times and seasons, brothers, you have no need for anything
to be written to you. For you yourselves know very well that the day of
the Lord will come like a thief at night. When people are saying, “Peace
and security,” then sudden disaster comes upon them, like labor pains
upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you, brothers, are
not in darkness, for that day to overtake you like a thief. For all of
you are children of the light 1 and children of the day. We are not of
the night or of darkness. Therefore, let us not sleep as the rest do,
but let us stay alert and sober…. For God did not destine us for wrath,
but to gain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us,
so that whether we are awake or asleep we may live together with him.
Therefore, encourage one another and build one another up, as indeed you
do. Top↑

John 12:23-28

“If a grain of wheat falls on the ground and dies…”

A reading from the holy gospel according to John:

Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.
Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground
and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces
much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life
in this world will preserve it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must
follow me, and where I am, there also will my servant be. The Father will
honor whoever serves me. “I am troubled now. Yet what should I say? ‘Father,
save me from this hour’? But it was for this purpose that I came to this
hour. Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have
glorified it and will glorify it again.” Top↑

Luke 23:44-46, 50, 52-53; 24:1-6a

A reading from the holy gospel according to Luke:

It was now about noon and darkness came over the whole land until three
in the afternoon because of an eclipse of the sun. Then the veil of the
temple was torn down the middle. Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Father,
into your hands I commend my spirit”; and when he had said this he breathed
his last.

Now there was a virtuous and righteous man named Joseph who, though he
was a member of the council… He went to Pilate and asked for the body
of Jesus. After he had taken the body down, he wrapped it in a linen cloth
and laid him in a rock-hewn tomb in which no one had yet been buried.

But at daybreak on the first day of the week they took the spices they
had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from
the tomb; but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord
Jesus. While they were puzzling over this, behold, two men in dazzling
garments appeared to them. They were terrified and bowed their faces to
the ground. They said to them, “Why do you seek the living one among the
dead? He is not here, but he has been raised. Top↑

Meditation Before Kaddish

Because the Kaddish voices the spirit of the imperishable in man, because
it refuses to acknowledge death as triumphant, because mankind, to flower
and develop again in the human heart it possesses sanctifying power. To
know that when you die there will remain those who, wherever they may
be on this wide earth, whether they be poor or rich, will send this prayer
after you, to know that they will cherish your memory as their dearest
inheritance–what more satisfying or sanctifying knowledge can you ever
hope for? And such is the knowledge bequeathed to us all by the Kaddish.

While the Kaddish is recited in memory of the departed it contains no
reference to death. Rather it is an avowal made in the midst of our sorrow,
that God is just, though we do not always comprehend His ways. When death
seems to overwhelm us, negating life, the Kaddish renews our faith in
the worthwhileness of life. Through the Kaddish, we publicly manifest
our desire and intention to assume the relation to the Jewish community,
which our parents had in their lifetime. Continuing the chain of tradition
that binds generation to generation, we express our undying faith in God’s
love and justice, and pray that He will speed the day when His kingdom
shall finally be established and His peace pervade the world. Top↑

God Everlasting — Psalm 93

The Lord reigneth; he is robed in majesty;
The Lord is robed, He hath girded Himself with strength.

Now is the earth firmly established;
It shall not be moved

Thy throne is established of old;
Thou art from everlasting.

The waters lift up their voices, O Lord,
The waters lift up their roaring;

Yet above the voices of many waters,
The mighty waters, breakers of the sea,
Thou, O Lord, art mighty on high.

Thy law is true and unfailing;
Holiness is becoming to Thy house, O Lord, forevermore. Top↑

Lord of the World

Lord of the world, the King supreme,
Ere aught was formed, He reigned alone.
When by His will all things were wrought,
Then was His sovereign name make known.

And when in time all things shall cease,
He still shall reign in majesty.
He was, He is, He shall remain
All glorious eternally.

Incomparable, unique is He,
No other can His Oneness share.
Without beginning, without end,
Dominion’s might is His to bear.

He is my living God who saves,
My rock when grief or trials befall,
My banner and my refuge strong,
My bounteous portion when I call.

My soul I give unto his care,
Asleep, awake for He is near,
And with my soul, my body too;
God is with me, I have no fear. Top↑

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 fear no evil;
for though art with me;
thy rod and thy staff,
they comfort me.

Thou preparest a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
thou anointest 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 forever. Top↑

John 11:25-26; Rev. 21:6; 22:13; 1:17-18; John 14:19

I am the resurrection and the life, says the Lord
Those who believe in me shall live,
Even though they die,
And whoever lives and believes in me shall never die.

I am the Alpha and the Omega,
the beginning and the end,
the first and the last.
I died and behold I am alive for evermore;
And I have the keys of Death and Hades.
Because I live, you too will also live. Top↑

Rev. 21:6; 22:13

Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
The Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary,
his understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.
Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
but they who wait for the lord shall renew their strength,
they shall mount up with wings like eagles,
they shall run and not be wary, they shall walk and not faint. Top↑


Merciful God,
You heal the broken heart
And bind up the wounds of the afflicted.
Strengthen us in our weakness,
Calm our troubled spirits,
And dispel our doubts and fears.
In Christ’s rising from the dead
Renew our trust in you
That by the power of your love
We shall one day be brought together again
With our [name].
Grant this we pray through Jesus Christ our Lord. Top↑

John 14.1-6

Do not let your hearts be troubled.
Trust in God; trust also in me.
In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you.
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.
You Know the way to the place where I am going.”
Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Top↑


Religious Readings for Funerals Sources:

The Word of the Lord. • New American Bible • National Conference of Catholic Bishops/United States Catholic Conference • 3211 4th Street, N.E., Washington, DC 20017-1194 (202) 541-3000 • Copyright © United States Catholic Conference

Sabbath and Festival Prayer Book • The Rabbinical Assembly of America • The United Synagogue of America • 1968 Printing • Rabbi Morris Silverman

The Funeral–A Service of Witness to the Resurrection • The Office of Worship for the Presbyterian Church, 1986 • Westminster Press, Philadelphia, PA

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