Bible Readings for a Funeral

Perhaps you are planning a funeral. It might be in the next day or two for a loved one. It may be in advance for yourself. I designed this page to lay out all the Bible choices for the Catholic funeral rites, including prayer services outside of Mass.

Feel free to join the discussion on any of the links below. If you are interested in some friendly consultation, I recommend contacting me at my parish’s office, where I have more resources on hand to assist you.

When planning funeral readings in high church traditions, it is customary to choose one passage from the Old Testament, one Psalm to follow, then a reading from one of the letters of the New Testament, and a Gospel reading usually proclaimed by the clergy.

Reading I from the OT
1) 2 Maccabees 12:43-46
2) Job 19:1, 23-27a
3) Wisdom 3:1-9 or 3:1-6, 9
4) Wisdom 4:7-14
5) Isaiah 25:6a, 7-9
6) Lamentations 3:17-26
7) Daniel 12:1-3

More Reading I selections outside the Catholic Lectionary

A note on these: I’ve often thought the selection of Old Testament readings was rather sparse in the funeral Lectionary. Over the years, I’ve collected some from clergy and unearthed a few others that struck me as appropriate. You readers may find something of value here. Please note: some Catholics may object to the inclusion of these for a funeral Mass. But they may serve well for a memorial prayer of some sort.

Reading I from the NT
during the Season of Easter

1) Acts 10:34-43 or 10:34-36, 42-43
2) Revelation 7:9-10, 15-17
3) Revelation 14:13
4) Revelation 20:11—21:1
5) Revelation 21:1-5a, 6b-7

Psalms at Mass, Liturgy of the Hours, or for Prayer

  1. Psalm 16:1-2, 7-11
  2. Psalm 23:1-3, 4, 5, 6
  3. Psalm 25:6+7bc, 17-18, 20-21
  4. Psalm 27:1, 4, 7+8b+9a, 13-14
  5. Psalm 42:2, 3, 5cdef; Psalm 43:3, 4, 5
  6. Psalm 51
  7. Psalm 63:2, 3-4, 5-6, 8-9
  8. Psalm 93
  9. Psalm 103:8+10, 13-14, 15-16, 17-18
  10. Psalm 114-115:12
  11. Psalm 116:5, 6, 10-11, 15-16ac
  12. Psalm 118
  13. Psalm 119 IV
  14. Psalm 119 XIV
  15. Psalm 119 XIX
  16. Psalm 121
  17. Psalm 122
  18. Psalm 123
  19. Psalm 126
  20. Psalm 130:1-2, 3-4, 5-6ab, 6c-7, 8
  21. Psalm 132
  22. Psalm 134
  23. Psalm 143:1-2, 5-6, 7ab+8ab, 10
  24. Psalm 148

Reading II from the NT
1) Romans 5:5-11
2) Romans 5:17-21
3) Romans 6:3-9 or 6:3-4, 8-9
4) Romans 8:14-23
5) Romans 8:31b-35, 37-39
6) Romans 14:7-9, 10c-12
7) 1 Corinthians 15:20-24a, 25-28 or 15:20-23
8) 1 Corinthians 15:51-57
9) 2 Corinthians 4:14—5:1
10) 2 Corinthians 5:1, 6-10
11) Ephesians 1:3-10
12) Philippians 3:20-21
13) 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
14) 2 Timothy 2:8-13
15) 1 John 3:1-2
16) 1 John 3:14-16

Some reading II selections outside the Catholic Lectionary

1) Matthew 5:1-12a
2) Matthew 11:25-30
3) Matthew 25:1-13
4) Matthew 25:31-46
5) Mark 10:13-16
6) Mark 15:33-39; 16:1-6 or 15:33-39
7) Luke 7:11-17
8) Luke 12:35-40
9) Luke 23:33, 39-43
10) Luke 23:44-46, 50, 52-53; 24:1-6a
    or 23:44-46, 50, 52-53
11) Luke 24:13-35 or 24:13-16, 28-35
12) John 5:24-29
13) John 6:37-40
14) John 6:51-58
15) John 11:17-27 or 11:21-27
16) John 11:32-45
17) John 12:23-28 or 12:23-26
18) John 14:1-6
19) John 17:24-26
20) John 19:17-18, 25-29

81 Responses to Bible Readings for a Funeral

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  5. Tess Kyser says:

    thank you. this helped a lot: trying to match my favorite readings with the Church’s requirements was stressful for me. but you had the readings I wanted, you answered my questions and as a bonus, you prevented me from telling the priest which gospel I wanted (oops!). I really have enough stress right now and this was making me nervous. I appreciate your help.

  6. Stephen Cyr says:

    Thanks, Father, for the great help. I am getting everything ready for my funeral so that when the time comes, my beloved wife, will not have to deal with most of the planning of the funeral. She will be under stress enough.

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  8. Paula Fortuna says:

    We just lost my mother in law and I am in charge of choosing the readings. This has helped me tremendously during this stressful time. Thank you so very much.

  9. Pamela Janis says:

    Very helpful and much appreciated! I used this to assist me in planning my best friend’s, Gayle Lacny, funeral. Please pray for this beautiful soul, who evangelized daily, using words when necessary. ( St. Francis Assisi)

  10. Len says:

    Thanks, this was tremendously helpful!

  11. Bob says:

    Very helpful resource, many thanks. I’m a plan-ahead guy, in great health, but want to have a nice funeral and not stress my wife and kids with the task of putting it together or using a run of the mill template that is impersonal.

  12. Shirley Dupre says:

    I am planning my dad’s funeral. Am I limited to certain readings during Lent?

    • Todd says:

      Good question, Shirley. The only liturgical pattern I would avoid is using a selection from Acts or Revelation as the first reading, as that is an Easter tradition. But few priests would deny you that choice if you and the family had a very good reason for it.

  13. Mark J. Lewis says:

    What is the official liturgical book (Name, Edition, etc.) for the most current Rite of Christian Burial with Cremation? Where is the best place to purchase this. I want the most up to date version.

    • Todd says:

      Hi Mark,

      The Order of Christian Funerals is the name. You want the 1989 edition. The special permission for cremation was extended from Rome in 1997, and in ordering a book, be sure to get one printed in 1997 or afterward.

      As for the purchasing of it, it’s available from various internet vendors. I recommend supporting the local Catholic bookstore, if they are willing to order it for you.

  14. Pamela Janis says:

    THANKS for answering this question. It has long been one I ‘ve wanted to ask, also.

  15. ***Dave says:

    Thank you very much for pulling all this material together. In a difficult time, it’s a great help.

  16. UKPE CHARLES says:

    Thank u very much for your help.

  17. Clare says:

    What are the requirements for readings? I am trying to choose readings for my mother’s funeral but I have no idea what to look for.

  18. John Booker says:

    Thank you for such a helpful site. I am going to use a reading from Proverbs 31 for my wife’s funeral which I found here. The translation you use is much better in my opinion for this piece than my own bible, but I’m sure to be asked which one is it?

    • Todd says:

      Hi John,

      The US bishops’ translation is the New American Bible. Sometimes the various church liturgy commissions–the higher-ups–will tweak a word or phrase here and there. More common with the Old Testament. Prayers for you and your family during these days.

  19. Kathleen says:

    Dear Todd,
    I’m glad I found your site in my family’s time of need. I appreciate the time and care you took to compile these resources and for the helpful context provided for each selection. Thank you.

  20. Fr simon mapeera says:

    Thank you so much.

  21. Chris Hammelev says:

    I cannot begin to say how much this has helped in our time of grief! thank you!

  22. Sage says:

    We are looking for something appropriate at a service for two children who have already passed and now the mother has passed your help would be greatley appecated

    • Todd says:

      Very sad and challenging. I might go with Isaiah 25, then Psalm 27, then Rev 21 (as a second reading). For a Gospel reading, I’m not sure. Perhaps one that mentions the Bread of Life, if the family were active Catholics. John 14 for a message of comfort and reassurance. John 11 for the raising of Lazarus.

  23. Sage says:

    Thank you so much

  24. Diane Powers says:

    My mother in-law passed back in December, however she requested that there be no funeral. She did however request that her sisters plan a memorial service, which has been scheduled for this coming Saturday and I have just now been asked to do a reading. I am lost at what would be best and have limited time. Many beautiful readings, what is appropriate for a memorial service? From what I understand it should be a gospel reading? Your help would most appreciated.

  25. Todd says:

    Hello Diane. I think most any reading is appropriate. Since your memorial service occurs some months after your mother-in-law’s passing, it seems good to concentrate on the comforting of the family with a message of hope. I think Matthew 11:25-30 if there was a sense that the death came after long suffering. John 14:1-6 is used frequently, but it has a good word of hope in the face of doubt and uncertainty. Without knowing more about your family, those would be my first suggestions.

  26. Jane Koi says:

    Beautiful references indeed.
    And so very helpful.
    Thank you.

  27. Leslie says:

    I am so happy to have found your site. My husband passed 10 years ago and I don’t want my daughters to be worried about what I would like to have read at my funeral. I even have the songs picked out for it. I can sleep well tonight. God bless

  28. Shirley says:

    I am a proclaimer in my church, and read all of I Corinthians 13 at the funeral of my best friend, John Gosbee. The first part described him very well – he was a person who loved like that. The second part gave an intimation of what we hoped he would find in Heaven. It was perfect.

  29. Chapel says:

    Appropriate readings. Thanks

  30. Morell says:

    I need a prayer for a son to read in churchurch for his descesed mother.

  31. Fr al bitz says:

    Is it permissible to use scripture readings for a funeral other than the ones listed?

    • Todd says:

      The funeral rites forbid the reading of non-Scriptural sources at the funeral Mass. The rites assume one will choose from what are assigned as readings in the ritual book. But there is no explicit statement forbidding the use of Bible passages outside of what is given. Given the sensitivity of the experience, most priests I know would accept an alternate Biblical passage if the family had good reason to request it.

  32. JOSRPH BERNARD says:

    Many thanks. It is very necessary for all who preach at the funeral liturgy.
    Can you come out with short homilies to guide seminarians?
    God bless you.

  33. Sonya says:

    Hi, my mum Valerie 69 yrs is terminally ill with Cancer, only diagnosed last week and it’s very aggressive. Time is very short, maybe a week or so. Val wasn’t overly religious and did attend occasionally every year. She was happy in her own skin , prayed daily in her own way and has a heart of gold, never speaking about anyone badly and wouldn’t want her passing to be steeped in too much religious prayers etc.she loved nature animals and gardening etc I have great faith but was hoping you might be able to select a few possible reading s and prayers or point me in the right direction.
    Many thanks
    Sonya Duggan 0872477471 laois

    • Todd says:

      For the Gospel I might suggest John 14:1-6 because of its language of comfort. Wisdom 5 is short and speaks of the just person. Proverbs 31 describes the worthy wife. Perhaps either of those. For the New Testament, maybe Romans 8:31ff, another message of comfort, or one of the 1 John readings which speak of love.

  34. michael witkowski says:

    looking for best fit for a 16yr old girl who has gone to be with the lord about 3:30 am easter morning leaning towards psalm 23 isaiah 25 for 1st reading 1thessalonians4 2nd reading gospel wide open right now any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you

  35. Trish Rickard says:

    Thank you for this site. I found the readings and insight helpful while working on my mother’s service. I really appreciated the outside the norm readings as well. It was nice to go to the meeting at the church knowing what I wanted.

  36. David F says:

    Thank you for so helpfully drawing attention to the Word of God. My mother, who was a Catholic, has just died and my son and I are tasked with choosing the Bible readings. Though we are both preachers it suddenly becomes a very personal and perhaps slightly emotional thing to have to do this. One concern is that we so not want to imply that a place in heaven is guaranteed to all (though the Gospel is freely offered to all) but only to those who have personally accepted Christ as Saviour through his death at Calvary. A gospel reading to include John 14 v6 therefore has some appeal.

  37. Joan says:

    My nephew committed suicide after a long battle with heroine. He would dabble in the faith and very much believed in Jesus but seemed to go down a dark road with the drugs. The family isn’t religious anymore, I am the only one so they asked me to pick readings for them. I am at a loss and they are suffering so badly – does anyone have any ideas of good readings to bring the family much needed comfort? Thank you.

    • Todd says:

      Readings that suggest hope: Wisdom 3 or Isaiah 25. Something familiar, Psalm 23. Maybe Romans 8:31ff, and for the Gospel, John 14. You can also explore the links and see if others stand out for you in some way. My sincere condolences for your nephew and your family.

  38. Linda Konings says:

    Thank you for this site. Planning a memorial service for my mother in law. She did not want to have a funeral mass. Is it okay to have two readings and a gospel at the service?

  39. Amy says:

    I have been asked to do a reading at my grandmother’s funeral this week. We were very close and while she was Catholic I am not. I am having a very hard time with this as I want to honor my grandmother but doing a religious reading feels very dishonest and does not honor my relationship with her of trust, acceptance, strength and perseverance. Would you suggest anything that is more about honoring her and her amazing attributes vs. honoring god? Thank you!

  40. Tam Kearney says:

    Was asked by my sister-in-law to provide some readings from the OT for a funeral she was arranging. I only read the NT and was in a bit of a dilemma. I found these recommendations to be very useful. Many thanks and God Bless.

  41. Keith Kelly says:

    Is it permissible to have two Old Testament readings in a Catholic wedding service instead of one from the OT and then, one from the NT? One of these readings is not on the list recommended by the Church but implicitly speaks about marriage. Also, does the Church allow an alternative Gospel reading such as the last supper narrative?

    • Todd says:

      Those options all depend on the willingness of the priest, deacon, or parish to work with you. If I were in charge, I would solicit your reasons for doing this and go from there. Best wishes on your upcoming nuptials.

  42. Maria Marzol says:

    God bless you for such great help. I’m writing my wishes for my own Final Mass and leave a message to all on how God’s word help us during this life. My eternal gratitude. Bendiciones. Mary Marzol 💟

  43. Dawn Lynd says:

    Thank you for this page. It has made choosing readings so much easier. Isaiah 43 1-3 calls to mind the hymn “Be Not Afraid” which I will also request. Do you have suggestions for other hymns? The other readings I chose are Responsorial Psalm 25 and 1 Corinthians 13. I do appreciate your advice.

    • Todd says:

      Suggestions for other music … I hesitate on this. It always depends on the hymnal you have in the pews, if your funeral people will sing (if they are regular parishioners or less active) and what portion might be Protestant (and you need to look at “ecumenical” selections like Amazing Grace or Joyful Joyful We Adore Thee.

      I often look to the psalms that **haven’t** been chosen to follow the first reading. If they are using Psalm 23, for example, I might consider settings of the 27th (The Lord Is My Light) or the 103rd (The Lord Is Kind and Merciful) for Communion. Song texts that focus on Christ (“I Am The Bread of Life” for example) are usually good choices. Wherever I go to serve, I always make sure we have one reliable setting of the Song of Farewell.

  44. Katie says:

    I understand that both the 1st and 2nd readings are taken from the NT in Easter. Must the reading be one of those on the list of “1st Readings in Easter” in the lectionary (which is what the wording on the USCCB site suggests), or can one go “off-book” and choose a different NT reading? Thank you!

    • Todd says:

      Good question, Katie. Any “off-book” choice will likely need to be approved by the priest. Some priests are strictly by-the-book. Others will agree to any reasonable suggestion by the family or friends. I think “my mother’s favorite Bible passage” or “the same reading we had at another loved one’s funeral” seem to be good reasons to me.

      Even for a by-the-book parish, if the place permitted brief comments by a family member, I would think a sharing like, “Dad’s favorite Bible passage is from the Old Testament, and here it is …” would not be denied. Not every “eulogy” needs to be a eulogy, if you get my drift. I hope that helps.

  45. Carol Roth says:

    I would like a reading for a funeral. Several of them. I am a good Catholic but I just don’t know how to choose. I like a lot of them .
    Are psalms good to use ?

  46. Leonard Go says:

    Thank you, I found this beyond helpful.

  47. Peter kharwanlang says:

    Thank you. The referred readings is of great help.

  48. Dimakatso Jane Letoaba says:

    We are funeral ministers, helping the priest as far as conducting week day prayers at the berieved family , a day before the funeral a longer prayer service is held to console family and loved ones , in this ocassion is it appropriate to have readings from the old testament only ?

    • Todd says:

      What you describe would formally be a funeral vigil. A Christian liturgy, traditionally, always includes something of the New Testament, something that connects the prayer with Jesus in some way. I can’t think of a good reason to omit a Gospel reading or a Gospel canticle. I suppose if the mourners have their hearts set on two or three readings from the Old Testament and there’s only time for two or three readings, then perhaps, if the people were insistent.

  49. Carol S. says:

    Thank you for this wonderful website and resource for selecting some readings for my 97 year old father’s funeral in a few days, in this time of Covid-19 crisis, where ministers are not entering funeral homes for any services! Blessings to you!

  50. Orazio says:

    Would you be willing to discuss one of the following:
    (a) The readings for the Extraordinary Form.
    (b) The readings and ‘hymns’ in:
    (1) the Vigil for the Deceased;
    (2) the Vigil for the Deceased with Reception at the Church;
    (3) the Office for the Dead (especially Vespers and Compline; the two most likely to be used).

    • Todd says:

      Yes, especially (b). I think the readings here cover what could be utilized in the Vigils, but I can check them again. You’ll notice in the header above, “Funeral Rites,” in which we spent some time on the Liturgy of the Hours some years ago.

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  52. Dawn Kubik says:

    I have a Psalm suggestion; (which I have chosen for myself when I pass) Psalm 84 How lovely is your dwelling place.

  53. Nioma Natal innocent says:

    I need to read the bible of lectionary for finerals

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