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

Responsorial Psalm
1) Psalm 23:1-3, 4, 5, 6
2) Psalm 25:6+7bc, 17-18, 20-21
3) Psalm 27:1, 4, 7+8b+9a, 13-14
4) Psalm 42:2, 3, 5cdef; Psalm 43:3, 4, 5
5) Psalm 63:2, 3-4, 5-6, 8-9
6) Psalm 103:8+10, 13-14, 15-16, 17-18
7) Psalm 116:5, 6, 10-11, 15-16ac
8) Psalm 122
9) Psalm 130:1-2, 3-4, 5-6ab, 6c-7, 8
10) Psalm 143:1-2, 5-6, 7ab+8ab, 10
11) 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

50 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.

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