Prayers Said at Funerals
In any religious funeral, no matter the religion in question, prayers are always said during the service. For clarity, this guide will split the prayers said at funerals up depending on which religion the prayers belong to.
Whatever kind of funeral you have, religious or secular, we should all be able to afford one we deserve. However, the rising cost in the UK means that this may not be reality for some, and that is why they are seeking out a prepaid funeral plan.
At a Christian funeral, there are plenty of prayers which are routinely said by the congregation, the priest/minister/vicar or by individual speakers.
Just before death, the last rites are said by a priest, if possible. In Christianity, it is tradition for a priest or minister to stay by their bedside and pray with them and help them prepare for their death (new life in with God). If the person is Roman Catholic the person will be anointed by holy water or oil by a priest whilst he states the last rites.
During the service the ‘The Lord is my Shepherd’ will usually be read out in full:
“The Lord is my shepherd;
therefore can I lack nothing.
He makes lie down in green pastures
and leads me beside still waters.
He shall refresh my soul
and guide me in the paths of righteousness for his
Though I walk through the valley of
the shadow of death, I will fear no evil;
for you are with me;
your rod and staff, they comfort me.
You spread a table before me
in the presence of those who trouble me;
you have anointed my head with oil
and my cup shall be full.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell In the house of the Lord for ever.”
Furthermore, a Psalm known as a “prayer for ourselves” will be recited by all those gathered:
“Support us, O Lord,
all the day long of this troublesome life,
until the shadows lengthen and the evening comes,
the busy world is hushed,
the fever of life is over
and our work is done.
Then, Lord, in your mercy grant us a safe lodging,
a holy rest, and peace at the last;
through Christ our Lord.
The sequence of prayers continues and usually follows this pattern:
- Thanksgiving for the life of the one who has departed
- A prayer dedicated to those who are mourning
- Prayers of Penitence
- Prayer for readiness to live in the light of eternity in the kingdom of Heaven with Christ.
The prayers recall the promise of resurrection come the return of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, known as the second coming.
A Christian funeral is nearly always concluded with the Lord’s Prayer, which is a daily prayer of thanks directed at God:
“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours
now and for ever.
Like with a Christian funeral, appropriate Psalms from the Torah are read out loud as the opening prayers. Typically, the prayers will be recited in Hebrew, however, some Reform synagogues chose to pray in the mother tongue of the country, so in English in the UK. The Lord is my Shepherd is commonly read out, as well as other Psalms such as Psalm 121, for example, reading:
“I will lift up mine eyes unto the mountains; From whence shall my help come?
My help cometh from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth.
He will not suffer thy foot to be moved; He that keepeth thee will not slumber.
Behold, He that keepeth Israel Doth neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord is thy keeper; The Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand.
The sun shall not smite thee by day, Nor the moon by night.
The Lord shall keep thee from all evil; He shall keep thy soul.
The Lord shall guard thy going out and thy coming in, From this time forth and forever.”
Another prayer that you will hear at a Jewish Funeral is known as a Yizkor. This is a prayer which pays tribute directly to the deceased, specifying the relation of the deceased to the person reciting it:
“May God remember the soul of my respected/beloved father/mother/wife/husband/daughter/son (etc.) (name) who has passed to his eternal rest:
I pledge charity in his behalf and pray that his soul be kept among the immortal souls of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, Leah, and all the righteous men and women in paradise. Amen.”
During the mourning period, there is a prayer called Kaddish that is said three times a day, given that the minyan is made up (a group of ten people, or ten men in orthodoxy). For the next eleven months, Kaddish is said every day. Following the 11 months, the person who passed away is remembered annually on the date of their death by reciting the Kaddish and lighting. This is also said during the funeral service, again this is likely to be said in Hebrew:
Readers and Mourners
“Magnified and sanctified be the great name of God throughout the world which He hath created according to His will. May He establish His kingdom during the days of your life and during the life of all the house of Israel, speedily, yea, soon; and say ye, Amen.”
“May His great name be blessed forever and ever.”
Reader and Mourners
“Exalted and honoured by the name of the Holy One, blessed be He, whose glory transcends, yea, is beyond all blessings and hymns, praises and consolations which are uttered In the world; and say ye, Amen. May there be abundant peace from heaven, and life for us and for all Israel; and say ye, Amen. May He who establisheth peace in the heavens, grant peace unto us and unto all Israel; and say ye, Amen.”
In Islam, “Salat al-Janazah” is a funeral prayer and is an integral part of the funeral rites of a Muslim person. The reciting on the Salat al-Janazah is a collective obligation of the congregation at a Muslim funeral. The prayers purpose is to ask Allah to a pardon upon the sins (haram) of deceased as well as all living and dead Muslims.
Part of the Salat al-Janazah is as follows, and should be said facing Mecca:
“O God, forgive our living and our dead, those who are present among us and those who are absent, our young and our old, our males and our females. O God, whoever You keep alive, keep him alive in Islam, and whoever You cause to die, cause him to die with faith. O God, do not deprive us of the reward and do not cause us to go astray after this. O God, forgive him and have mercy on him, keep him safe and sound and forgive him, honour his rest and ease his entrance; wash him with water and snow and hail, and cleanse him of sin as a white garment is cleansed of dirt. O God, give him a home better than his home and a family better than his family. O God, admit him to Paradise and protect him from the torment of the grave and the torment of Hell-fire; make his grave spacious and fill it with light.”