Readings For a Funeral

Prayer of Faith

We trust that beyond absence there is a presence.
That beyond the pain there can be healing.
That beyond the brokenness there can be wholeness.
That beyond the anger there may be peace.
That beyond the hurting there may be forgiveness.
That beyond the silence there may be the word.
That beyond the word there may be understanding.
That through understanding there is love.

-Unknown

From “The Firmament of Time”

Since the first human eye saw a leaf in primordial sandstone and a puzzled finger reached to touch it, sadness has lain over the heart of human beings. By this tenuous thread of living protoplasm, stretching backward into time, we are linked forever to lost beaches whose sands have long since hardened into stone.
The stars that caught our blind amphibian stare have shifted far or vanished in their courses, but still that naked glistening thread winds onward.
No one knows the secret of its beginning or its end. Its forms are phantoms. The thread alone is real; the thread is life.

-Loren Eiseley

I Did Not Die

Do not stand at my grave and weep;
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.

When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there, I did not die.

– Anonymous

High Flight

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed and joined the tumbling mirth
of sun-split clouds – and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of – wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.

Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or even eagle flew –
And, while the silent lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand and touched the face of God.

–  John Gillespie Magee, Jr, RCAF (1922-1941)
A Canadian fighter pilot killed in Action in World War 2

Miss Me, But Let Me Go

When I come to the end of the road
And the sun has set for me,
I want no rites in a gloom-filled room,
Why cry for a soul set free!
Miss me a little – but not for long
And not with your head bowed low.
Remember the love that we once shared,
Miss me, but let me go.
For this journey that we all must take
And each must go alone;
It’s all a part of the Master’s plan
A step on the road to home.
When you are lonely and sick at heart
Go to the friends we know,
And bury your sorrows in doing good deeds.
Miss me, but let me go.

– Edgar Albert Guest (1881-1959)

Now When the Number of My Years

Now when the number of my years
Is all fulfilled, and I
From sedentary life
Shall rouse me up to die,
Bury me low and let me lie
Under the wide and starry sky.
Joying to live, I joyed to die,
Bury me low and let me lie.

Clear was my soul, my deeds were free,
Honour was called my name,
I fell not back from fear
Nor followed after fame.
Bury me low and let me lie
Under the wide and starry sky.
Joying to live, I joyed to die,
Bury me low and let me lie.

Bury me low in valleys green
And where the milder breeze
Blows fresh along the stream,
Sings roundly in the trees –
Bury me low and let me lie
Under the wide and starry sky.
Joying to live, I joyed to die,
Bury me low and let me lie.

-Robert Louis Stevenson

When the Sun Comes After Rain

When the sun comes after rain
And the bird is in the blue,
The girls go down the lane
Two by two.

When the sun comes after shadow
And the singing of the showers,
The girls go up the meadow,
Fair as flowers.

When the eve comes dusky red
And the moon succeeds the sun,
The girls go home to bed
One by one.

And when life draws to its even
And the day of man is past,
They shall all go home to heaven,
Home at last.

-Robert Louis Stevenson

Robert Louis Stevenson’s Epitaph

Under the wide and starry sky
Dig the grave and let me lie.
Glad did I live, and gladly die,
And I laid me down with a will.

This be the verse you grave for me:
Here he lies where he longed to be;
Home is the sailor, home from the sea,
And the hunter home from the hill.

God Saw You Getting Tired

God saw you getting tired,
When a cure was not to be.
So He wrapped his arms around you,
and whispered, “come to me.”

You didn’t deserve what you went through,
So He gave you rest.
God’s garden must be beautiful,
He only takes the best

And when I saw you sleeping,
So peaceful and free from pain
I could not wish you back
To suffer that again.

– Author Unknown

When I am Gone Release Me

When I am gone release me
Let me go, I have so many things to see and do
You mustn’t tie yourself to me with tears
Be happy that we had so many beautiful years
I gave to you my love
You can only guess how much you gave me in happiness
I thank you for the love you each have shown
But now it’s time I travel alone
So grieve awhile for me, if grieve you must
Then let your grief be comforted by my trust
It’s only for awhile that we must part
So bless the memories within your heart
I won’t be far away, for life goes on
So if you need me, call and I will come
Though you can’t see or touch me, I’ll be near
And if you listen within your heart you’ll hear
All my love around you soft and clear
And then when you must come this way alone
I’ll greet you with a smile and say
“Welcome Home.”

– Author Unknown

A Psalm of Life

Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream! –
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.

Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each to-morrow
Find us farther than to-day.

Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.

In the world’s broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
Be a hero in the strife!

Trust no Future, howe’er pleasant!
Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act,— act in the living Present!
Heart within, and God o’erhead!

Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time;

Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.

Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.

–Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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