Non Bible Readings Suitable for a Funeral

Non Biblical Readings which may be suitable for use at a funeral or Service of thanksgiving for a person’s life.

GONE ONLY FROM OUR SIGHT

I am standing on the seashore.
Suddenly a ship at my side
Spreads her white sails to the morning breeze,
And starts out for the blue ocean.
She is an object of beauty and strength,
And I stand and watch her
Until at length she is only a ribbon of white cloud
Just above where sea and sky mingle with each other.
Then someone at my side says
‘There! She’s gone!’

Gone where?
Gone from my sight – that is all.
She is just as large in mast and hull and spar
As she was when she left my side,
And just as able to bear her load of living freight
To the place of destination.
Her diminished size is in me, not in her,
And just at the moment when someone at my side says,
‘There! She’s gone!’
there are other voices ready to take the glad shout,
‘There! She comes!’
And that is dying.

Words found in the wallet of Colonel Marcus, of the Israeli Army,
when he was killed in action on June 11 1948

(Funeral Liturgies/McCarthy/1994)

WHAT IS DYING?

A ship sails and I stand
watching till she fades on the
horizon, and someone at my
side says, “She is gone”.

Gone where? Gone from my
sight, that is all; she is just as
large as when I saw her…

The diminished size and total
loss of sight is in me, not in
her, and just at the moment
when someone at my side
says “she is gone”,
there are others watching her
coming, and other voices
take up a glad shout, “there
she comes!”… and that is
dying.

Bishop Brent

If I should die and leave you here awhile,
Be not like others, sore undone, who keep
Long vigils by the silent dust, and weep.
For my sake, turn again to life and smile,
Nerving thy heart and trembling hand to do
Something to comfort weaker hearts than thine.
Complete those dear unfinished tasks of mine
And I perchance may therein comfort you.

A Price Hughes

You reap where you do not sow
You reap where you do not sow.
Un-seeded, the sea yields up its harvest of a myriad fish ‑
(You reap where you do not sow)
Cod, mackerel, whiting, hake, plaice, herring, sole;
They fill the nets of a thousand trawlers,
Make living, thrashing, silvery‑blue mountains
On a thousand heaving decks.
Ploughing those endless, restless, moving pastures,
Men reap the perpetual harvest of the sea,
As they have reaped it from the dawn of time.

Now plunging deeper into that fertile womb
Upon the ocean bed, the phallic drills
Touch secret springs whence fountains forth
The power that is the life blood of another world.
Beneath bleak northern seas lie wells of heat
Locked in at creation, summoned by our need.
What other harvests wait there to be reaped
– Undreamt of now ‑ a million years away?

Alice Rogge

Earth’s crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God;
But only he who sees, takes off his shoes ‑
The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

I THANK YOU, GOD, THAT I HAVE LIVED

I thank you, God, that I have lived
In this great world and known its many joys;
The song of birds, the strong, sweet smell of hay
And cooling breezes in the secret dusk,
The flaming sunsets at the close of day,
Hills, and the lonely, heather-covered moors,
Music at night, and moonlight on the sea,
The beat of waves upon the rocky shore
And wild, white spray, flung high in ecstasy;
The faithful eyes of dogs, and treasured books,
The love of kin and fellowship of friends,
And all that makes life dear and beautiful.
I thank you, too, that there has come to me
A little sorrow and, sometimes, defeat,
A little heartache and the loneliness
That comes with parting, and the word “Goodbye”,
Dawn breaking after dreary hours of pain,
When I discovered that night’s gloom must yield
And morning light break through to me again.
Because of these and other blessings poured
Unasked upon my wondering head,
Because I know that there is yet to come
An even richer and more glorious life,
And most of all, because Your only Son
Once sacrificed life’s loveliness for me –
I thank you, God, that I have lived.

Elizabeth Craven

DANCING THE SKIES

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,
Hung in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft tho’ footles halls of air.

Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, nor eagle flew –
And while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod
The high, untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand and touched the face of God.

(found written by Bob Boyd in the front of the book
“Out of the Blue”)

by John Gillespie Magee

IF I SHOULD GO

If I should go before the rest of you,
break not a flower, nor inscribe a stone,
nor when I’m gone speak in a Sunday voice
but be the usual selves that I have known.
Weep if you must,
parting is hell – but life goes on
so sing as well.

Joyce Grenfell.

from “NATURE IS A HERACLITEAN FIRE”

Enough! The Resurrection
A heart’s-clarion! Away grief’s gasping,
joyless days, dejection.
Across my foundering deck shone
A beacon, and eternal beam.
Flesh fade, and mortal trash
Fall to the residuary worm;
world’s wildfire, leave but ash
In a flash, at a trumpet crash,
I am all at once what Christ is,
since he is what I am, and
This jack, joke, poor potsherd,
patch, matchwood, immortal diamond,
Is immortal diamond.

Gerard Manley Hopkins

GOD’S GRANDEUR

The World is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
crushed. Why do men then now not wreck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell; the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning at the brown brink eastward, springs –
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and ah! bright wings.

Gerard Manley Hopkins

HEAVEN-HAVEN
I have desired to go
Where springs not fail,
To fields where flies no sharp sided hail
And few lilies blow.

I have desired to go
And I have asked to be
Where no storms come,
Where the green swell is in the havens dumb,
And out of the swing of the sea.
I have asked to be
Gerard Manley Hopkins

THE CANDLE INDOORS
Some candle clear burns somewhere I come by
I muse at how its being puts blissful hack
With yellowy moisture mild night’s blear-all black,
Or to-fro tender trambeams truckle at the eye.
By that window what task what fingers ply,
I plod wondering, a-wanting, just for lack
Of answer the eager a-wanting Jessie or Jack
There God to aggrandise, God to glorify.

Come you indoors, come home; your fading fire
Mend first and vital candle in close heart’s vault;
You there are master, do your own desire;
What hinders? Are you beam-blind, yet to a fault
In a neighbour deft-handed? Are you that liar
And, cast by conscience out, spend savour salt?

Gerard Manley Hopkins

THE LANTERN OUT OF DOORS

Sometimes a lantern moves along the night,
That interests our eyes. And who goes there?
I think; where from and bound, I wonder where,
With all down darkness wide, his wading light?
`
Men go by me whom either beauty bright
In mould or mind or what not else makes rare:
The rain against our muck-thick and marsh air
Rich beams, till death or distance buys them quite.

Death or distance soon consumes them: wind
What most I may eye after, be in at the end
I cannot, and out of sight is out of mind.

Christ minds; Christ’s interest, what to avow or amend
There, eyes them, heart wants, care haunts, foot follows kind,
Their ransom, their rescue, and first, fast last friend.

Gerard Manley Hopkins

GOD’S GARDEN 1

The Lord God planted a garden
In the first white days of the world
And He set there an angel warden
In a garment of light enfurled.

So near to the peace of Heaven
The hawk might nest with the wren
For there in the cool of the even
God walked with the first of men.

And I claim that these gardens closes
with their glades and their sun flecked sod
And their lilies and bowers of roses
Were laid by the hand of God.

The kiss of the sun for pardon
The song of the birds for mirth
One is nearer God’s heart in a garden
Than anywhere else on earth.

Dorothy Frances Gurney

(Extract from) : THE PROPHET by Kahil Gibran

Then Almitra spoke saying, We would ask now of Death.
And he said
You would know the secret of death.
But how shall you find it unless you seek it in the heart of life?
The owl whose night-bound eyes are blind
unto the day cannot unveil the mystery of light.
If you would indeed behold the spirit of death,
open your heart wide unto the body of life.
For life and death are one,
even as the river and the sea are one.
in the depth of your hopes and desires
lies your silent knowledge of the beyond;
And like seeds dreaming beneath the snow
your heart dreams of spring.
Trust the dreams, for in them is hidden the gate to eternity.
Your fear of death is but the trembling
of the shepherd when he stands before
the king whose hand is laid upon him in honour.
Is the shepherd not joyful beneath his trembling,
that he shall wear the mark of king?
Yet is he not more mindful of his trembling?
For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind
and to melt into the sun?
And what is it to cease breathing,
but to free the breath from its restless tides,
that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered?
Only when you drink from the river of silence
shall you indeed sing.
And when you have reached the mountain top,
then you shall begin to climb.
And when the earth shall claim your limbs,
then you shall truly dance.

REMEMBER

Remember me when I am gone away,
Gone far away into a silent land;
When you can no more hold me by the hand,
Nor I half turn to go yet turning stay.
Remember me when no more day by day
You tell me of our future that you planned:
Only remember me; you understand
It will be late to counsel then or pray.
Yet if you should forget me for a while
And afterwards remember, do not grieve:
For if the darkness and corruption leave
A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,
Better by far you should forget and smile
Than that you should remember and be sad.

Christina Rosetti

“DEATH, BE NOT PROUD”

Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so,
For those whom thou thunk’st thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poor death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,
Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee do go,
Rest of their bones, and soul’s delivery.
Thou art slave to fate, Chance kings and desperate men,
And poppies or charms can make us sleep as well,
And better than thy stroke; why swell’st thou then?
One short sleep is past, we wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; death thou shalt die.

John Donne

NO MAN IS AN ISLAND

No man is an island, entire of itself;
every man is a piece of the continent,
a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were,
as well as if a manor of thy friends or of thine were.
Any man’s death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind.
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
it tolls for thee’

John Donne

THE SONG OF THE RIVER

The snow melts on the mountain
And the water runs down to the spring,
And the spring in a turbulent fountain,
With a song of youth to sing,
Runs down to the riotous river,
And the river flows to the sea,
And the water again Goes back in rain
To the hills where it used to be.

And I wonder if life’s deep mystery
Isn’t much like the rain and the snow
Returning through all eternity
To the places it used to know.

For life was born on the loft heights
And flows in a laughing stream,
To the river below Whose onward flow
Ends in a peaceful dream.

And so at last,
When our life has passed
And the river has run its course,
It again goes back,
O’er the selfsame track,
To the mountain which was its source.

So why prize life Or why fear death,
or dread what is to be?
The river ran Its allotted span
Till it reached the silent sea.

Then the water harked back
To the mountain top
To begin its course once more.
So we shall run
The course begun
Till we reach the silent shore.

Then revisit earth
In a pure rebirth
From the heart of the virgin snow.
So don’t ask why
We live or die,
Or whither, or where we go
Or wonder about the mysteries
That only God may know.

by William Randolph Hearst

HE IS THE WAY

Follow Him through the land of Unlikeness;
Now you will see rare beasts,
and have unique adventures.

He is the Truth.
Seek him in the Kingdom of Anxiety;
You will come to a great city
that has expected your return for years.

He is the Life.
Love Him in the World of the Flesh;
And at your marriage
all its occasions shall dance for joy.

W. H. Ander

from “IN MEMORIAM”

I held it truth with him who sings
To one clear harp in divers tones,
That men may rise on stepping-stones
Of their dead selves to higher things.

But who shall so forecast the years
And find in loss a gain to match?
Or reach a hand thro’ time to catch
The far off interest of tears?

Love is and was my Lord and King,
And in his presence I attend
To hear the tidings of my friend
Which every hour his courtiers bring.

Love is and was my King and Lord,
And will be, tho’ as yet I keep
Within his court on earth and sleep
Encompassed by his faithful guard,

And hear at times a sentinel
Who moves about from place to place,
And whispers to the worlds of space,
In the deep night, that all is well.

Thy voice is on the rolling air
I hear thee where the waters run,
Thou standest in the rising sun,
And in the setting thou art fair.

What art thou then? I cannot guess;
But tho’ I seem in star and flower
To feel thee some diffusive power,
I do not therefore love thee less:

My love involves the love before;
My love is vaster passion now;
Tho’ mixed with God and Nature thou,
I seem to love thee more and more.

Far off thou art, but ever nigh;
I have the still, and I rejoice;
I prosper, circles with thy voice;
I shall not lose, tho’ I die.

Alfred Lord Tennyson

I CANNOT ALWAYS SEE THE PATH THAT LEADS

I cannot always see the path that leads
To heights above;
I sometimes quite forget he leads me on
With hand of love;
But yet I know the path must lead me to
Immanuel’s land.
And when I reach life’s summit I shall know
And understand.
I cannot always trace the onward course
My ship must take;
But, looking backward, I behold afar
It’s shining wake
Illuminated with God’s light of love, and as
I onward go
Imperfect trust that He who holds the helm
The course must know,
I cannot always see the plan on which
He builds my life,
For oft the sound of hammers, blow by blow,
The noise of strife
Confuse me till I quite forget He knows
And oversees,
And that’ in details, with His good plan
My life agrees.
I cannot always know and understand
The Master’s rules;
I cannot always do the tasks He gives
In life’s hard school;
But I am learning, with His help, to solve
Them one by one;
And where I cannot understand, to say
“Thy will be done.”

John Donne

If we do not believe, the waves engulf us, the winds blow,
nourishment fails, sickness lays us low or kills us,
the divine power is impotent or remote.

If, on the other hand we believe, the waters are welcoming
and sweet, the bread is multiplied, our eyes are open, the dead rise
again, the power of God is, as it were, drawn from him by force
and spreads throughout all nature.

Teilhard de Chardin

HEAVEN

In the heaven of the god I hope for (call him X)
There is a marriage and giving in marriage and transient sex
For those who will cast the body’s vest aside
Soon, but are not yet wholly rarefied
And still embrace. For X is never annoyed
Or shocked; has read his Jung and knows his Freud,
He gives you in a time in heaven to do as you please,
To climb love’s gradual ladder by slow degrees,
Gently to rise from sense to soul, to ascend
To a world of timeless joy, world without end.

Here on the gates of pearl, there hangs no sign
Limiting cakes and ale, forbidding wine.
No weakness here is hidden, no vice unknown.
Sin is sickness, to be cured, outgrown,
With the help of a god who can laugh, an unsolemn god
Who smiles at old wives’ tales of iron rod
And fiery hell, a god who’s more at ease
With bawds and falstaffs than with Pharisees.

Here the lame learn to leap, the blind to see,
Tyrants are taught to be humble, slaves to be free.
Fools become wise and wise men cease to be bores,
Here bishops learn from the lips of back street whores,
And white men follow black-faced angels’ feet
Through fields of orient and immortal wheat.

*Villion, Lautrec and Baudelaire are here,
Here swift forgets his anger, Poe his fear,
napoleon rests, Columbus, journeys done,
has reached his new Atlantis, found his sun.
Verlaine and Dylan Thomas drink together,
Marx talks to Plato. Byron wonders whether
there’s some mistake. Wordsworth has found a hill
That’s home. Here Chopin plays the piano still.
Wren plans eternal domes; and Renoir paints
Young girls as ripe as fruit but not yet saints.

And X, of whom no coward is afraid,
Who’s friend consulted, not fierce king obeyed;
Who expects not even the learned to understand
His universe, extends a prodigal hand,
Full of forgiveness, over his promised land.

(*This verse could be omitted.)
Tessimond
………Death is the most profound
and significant fact of life:
It lifts the very last of mortals
above the greyness
and banality of life.
And only the fact of death
puts the question of life’s meaning
in all its depth.
\life in this world has meaning
only because there is death:
If there were no death in our world
life would be deprived of meaning.
Meaning is linked with ending.
And if there were no end,
If in our world there was evil
and endlessness of life,
there would be no meaning to life whatever.
The meaning of man’s moral experience
throughout his whole life
lies in putting him in a position
to comprehend death.
Nikolai Beryaev

If I should die and leave you here awhile,
Be not like others, sore undone, who keep
Long vigils by the silent dust, and weep.
For my sake, turn again to life and smile,
Nerving thy heart and trembling hand to do
Something to comfort weaker hearts than thine.
Complete those dear unfinished tasks of mine
And I perchance may therein comfort you.

A Price Hughes

God has told us
That nothing can sever
A life He created
to live on forever….
So let God’s promise
soften our sorrow
And give us new strength
For a brighter tomorrow.

Helen Steiner Rice

FOOTPRINTS

One night I had a dream,
I dreamed I was walking along the beach with God,
and across the sky flashed scenes from my life.
For each scene I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand,
one belonged to me and the other to God.

When the last scene in my life flashed before us
I looked back at the footprints in the sand.
I noticed that at times along the path of life
there was only one set of footprints.

I also noticed that it happened at the very
lowest and saddest times of my life.
This really bothered me and I questioned God about it.
“God, You said that once I decided to follow you,
you would walk with me all the way,
but I noticed that during the most troublesome times
during my life there is only one set of footprints.
I don’t understand why in times when I needed you most,
would leave me.”

God replied, “My precious, precious child,
I love you and I would never,
never leave you during your times of trials and suffering.
When you see only one set of footprints
it was then that I carried you.”

Anon.

AN INDIAN BLESSING

Now for you, there is no rain;
for one is shelter to the other.
Now for you, the sun shall not burn;
for one is shelter to the other.
Now for you, nothing is hard or bad;
for the goodness and badness is taken by one for the other.

Now for you, there is no night;
for one is light to the other.
Now for you, the snow has ended always;
for one is protection for the other.
It is that way, from now on, from now on;

Now it is good, and there is always food,
and now there is always drink,
and now there is comfort.

Now there is no loneliness.

Anon

SONNET

Remember me when I am far away
And still enshrine me in your faithful heart.
Then ‘twill not mean such bitterness to part,
For we shall meet in heaven another day.
But not as I am. dying and week;
The wafted winds that cool the starry shore
Bring healing to the dwellers evermore,
The rose of life is splendid on their cheek!
Remember me as I was long ago
What time we trod the woodland paths together;
When the trees clustered, and the sun was low
And the proud hills were sweet with scented heather.
And the hushed earth lay dreaming and the skies
Smiled as of old on happy paradise.

William Robertson Nicholl

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 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.

THOUGH I AM DEAD…

Though I am dead, grieve not for me with tears,
Think not of death with sorrowing and fears,
I am so near that every tear you shed
Touches and tortures me though you think me dead;
But when you laugh and sing in great delight
My soul is lifted to the light,
Laugh and be glad for all that life is giving
And I, though dead, will share your joy of living.
Anon…

A READING FROM THE BOOK OF WISDOM 4 & 5

Virtuous people, though they die before their time,
will find rest.
Length of days is not what makes age honourable,
nor number of years the true measure of life.
Understanding this is mankind’s grey hairs;
untarnished life this is ripe old age.

They have sought to please God,
so God has loved them.
Coming to perfection in so short a while,
they achieved long life,
their souls being pleasing to the Lord.

Yet people look on, uncomprehending.
It does not enter their heads that grace and mercy
await the chosen of the Lord,
and protection, his holy ones.
These people see the wise persons’ ending
understanding
what the Lord has in store for them.

The virtuous live for ever; their recompense lies
with the Lord the Most High takes care of them.
So they shall receive the royal crown of splendour,
the diadem of beauty from the hand of the Lord;
for he will shelter them with his right hand,
and shield them with his arm.

A READING OF A POEM BY BEN JOHNSON

It is not in growing like a tree,
In bulk, doth make man better be;
Or standing long an oak, three hundred year,
To fall a log at last, dry, bald, and sear;
A lily of a day
Is fairer far, in Nay,
Although it fall and die that night,
It was a plant, and flower of light
In small proportions we oust beauties see;
And in short measures life may perfect be.

O God, Give Us Your Shielding
O God, give us your shielding,
O God, give us your holiness,
O God, give us your comfort
And your peace at the hour of our death.

THEIR LAST TRIAL IS TO CROSS OVER THE RIVER THAT HAS NO BRIDGE

After this it was noised abroad that Mr Valiant-for-Truth
was taken with a summons,
and had this for token that the summons was true,
that his pitcher was broken at the fountain.
When he understood it,
he called for his friends, and told them of it.

Then said he, I am going to my Father’s:
and though with great difficulty I am got hither,
yet now I do not repent me of all the trouble
I have been at, to arrive where I am.
My sword I give to him that shall succeed me in my pilgrimage,
and my courage and skill to him that can get it.
My marks and scars I carry with me,
to be a witness for me that I have fought
His battles who now will be my rewarder.

When the day that he must go hence was come,
many accompanied him to the river side,
into which as he went he said,
Death, where thy sting?
And as he went down deeper,
he said Grave where is thy victory?
So he passed over,
and all the trumpets sounded for him on the other side.

TO…………. WHO IS GONE HENCE
Open the door of your mercy.
O Christ: that ……….……. may rejoice in glory
and share in the joys of your kingdom.
For what pleasure in this life is unmarked by sorrow?
What glory can endure upon this earth unchanged?
All is feebler than a shadow, more deceptive than a dream.
for death in a single moment takes all things away.
But in the light of your face, O Christ, and in the joy of your beauty,
give rest to those whom you have chosen,
for the love you bear to all humanity. Amen.

BLESSING
Leader:
Bless to us, 0 God,
The moon that is above us,
The earth that is beneath us,
The friends who are around us,
Your image deep within us,
ALL: AMEN.

WHEN I DIE
Do not be sad or grieve for me
When my days on earth are done,
Do not despair, hold on to faith
For life must carry on.

You will never fear the future
If you let God take your hand,
He’s been through all life’s hardships
And will help you understand.

Talk to me as you’ve always done
And always wear a smile,
I’ll be listening, I’ll be waiting
Parting is but for a while.

Think of all the happy times
And those still yet to come,
For joy is everlasting
When God’s will is done.

I’M FREE

Don’t grieve for me for now I’m free,
I’m following the path God laid for me.
I took His hand when I heard him call,
I turned my back and left it all,
I could not stay another day
To laugh, to love, to work or play.
Tasks left undone must stay that way,
I found that peace at close of day.
If my parting has left a void,
Then fill it with remembered joy,
A friendship shared, a laugh, a kiss,
Ah yes – these things I too will miss.
Be not burdened with times of sorrow,
I wish you the sunshine of tomorrow.
My life’s been full,
I’ve savoured much,
Good friends, good times,
A loved one’s touch.
Perhaps my time seemed all too brief,
Don’t lengthen it now with undue grief,
Lift up your hearts and share with me,
God wanted me now, He set me free

MISS ME – BUT LET ME GO

When I come to the end of the road
And the sun has for me
I want no rites in a gloom filled room
Why cry for a soul set free.

Miss me a little – but not too long
And not with your head bowed low
Remember the love that we once shared
Miss me – but let me go

For this is a 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.

Henry Scott Holland (1847-1918), Canon of St Paul’s Cathedral

His strongest characteristic was his gaiety.
His smile, his laugh, the light of happiness in his eyes —
these are the things which those who knew him will recall
when they think of him.
He allowed nothing to be sombre.
Having expressed himself with vigour, even with passion,
when anything touched the depths of his feelings,
he was quick to banish the serious look,
to laugh away the serious situation,
to smother the bitter disappointment.

THE EARL OF LYTTON from Antony

AMENDED VERSION TO “HER”:
Her strongest characteristic was her gaiety.
Her smile, her laugh, the light of happiness in her eyes —
these are the things which those who knew her will recall
when they think of her.
She allowed nothing to be sombre.
Having expressed herself with vigour, even with passion,
when anything touched the depths of her feelings,
she was quick to banish the serious look,
to laugh away the serious situation,
to smother the bitter disappointment.

THE EARL OF LYTTON from Antony

Come not to mourn for me with solemn tread
Clad in dull weeds of sad and sable hue,
Nor weep because my tale of life’s told through,
Casting light dust on my untroubled head.
Nor linger near me while the sexton fills
My grave with earth – but go gay-garlanded,
And in your halls a shining banquet spread
And gild your chambers o’er with daffodils.

Fill your tall goblets with white wine and red,
And sing brave songs of gallant love and true,
Wearing soft robes of emerald and blue,
And dance, as I your dances oft have led,
And laugh, as I have often laughed with you —
And be most merry — after I am dead.

WINIFRED HQLTBY No Mourning, By Request

Under the wise 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 form the sea,
And the hunter home from the hill.

Inscribed on Robert Louis Stevenson’s grave and monument
on the Island of Samoa

RETURNING TO GOD

We are born in exile and die there too.
As soon as we set sail on the great voyage of life,
We begin our return.
We spend our lives dreaming
Of a homeland we have never seen.

Like homing birds that are released in a strange country,
And know no rest until they return home,
So it is with us.
When we die,
We do not so much go to God
As return to him.

Adapted from poems of Walt Whitman

SAILING OUT

We must not stop here,
However sweet these laid-up stores,
However convenient this dwelling,
We cannot remain here.
However sheltered this port,
And however calm these waters,
We must not anchor here.

However welcome the hospitality that surrounds us,
We are permitted to receive it but a little.
So, the long, long anchorage we leave;
Out little white-hull’d sloop
Now speeds on really deep waters,
No more returning to these shores.

Sail out with us, Lord,
Sail out with us to that unknown region,
Where neither ground is for our fe,
Nor any path to follow,
Nor map, nor guide,
Nor voice sounding,
Nor touch of human hand.
Sail out with us, Lord,
And guide us to the Promised Land.

(Funeral Liturgies/McCarthy/1994).

THE HOOFS OF THE HORSES!

The hoofs of the horses! Oh! Witching and sweet
Is the music earth steals from the iron-shod feet.
No whisper of lover, no trilling of bird
Can stir me as hoofs of the horses have stirred.

On the wings of the morning they gather and fly,
In the hush of the night-time, I hear them go by.
The horses of memory thundering though
With flashing white fetlocks all wet with the dew.

When you lay me to slumber, no spot you can choose
But will ring with the rhythm of galloping shoes,
And under the daisies, no grave be so deep
But the hoofs of the horses shall sound in my sleep.

Will H. Ogilvie

DEATH IS ONLY AN HORIZON
We give them back to you, O Lord,
Who first gave them to us;
And as you did not lose them in the giving,
So we do not lose them in the return.

Nor as the world gives do you give,
O Lover of souls
For what is yours is ours also,
If we belong to you.

Life is unending because love is undying,
And the boundaries of this life are but an horizon,
And an horizon is but the limit of our vision.

Lift us up, strong Son of God,
That we may see further.
Strengthen our faith that we may see beyond the horizon.

And while you prepare a place for us,
As you have promised,
Prepare us also for that happy place;
That where you are we may be also,
With those we have loved, forever.

Bede Jarrett O.P.(Funeral Liturgies/McCarthy/1994)

DEATH IS NOTHING AT ALL

Death is nothing at all.
I have only slipped away into the next room.
I am I, and you are you.
Whatever we were to each other, that we are still.
Call me by my own familiar name;
speak to me in the easy way which you always used;
Put no difference in your tone;
wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow;
Laugh, as we always laughed at the little jokes we enjoyed together;
(pray, smile, think of me;)
Let my name be ever the household word that it always was;
let it be spoken without effect; without the trace of a shadow on it.
Life means all that it ever meant;
It is the same as it ever was; there is unbroken continuity.
Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight?
I am waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near
Just around the corner.
All is well.’

Henry Scott Holland (1847-1918), Canon of St Paul’s Cathedral

GODS GARDEN 2
God looked around his Garden
and found an empty place.
He then looked down upon this Earth,
and saw your lovely face.
He put his arms round you
and lifted you to rest.
God’s garden must be beautiful,
he always takes the best.

He knew you were suffering,
He knew you were in pain,
He knew that you would never
Get well on earth again.

He saw the road was getting rough
and the hills were hard to climb.
So he closed your weary eyelids,
And whispered, “Peace Be thine”.
It broke our hearts to lose you but
You didn’t go alone,
For part of us went with you
The day God called you home.

Anon

WHEN I DIE.

Do not be sad or grieve for me
When my days on earth are done,
Do not despair, hold on to faith
For life must carry on.

You will never fear the future
If you let God take your hand,
He’s been through all life’s hardships
And will help you understand.

Talk to me as you’ve always done
And always wear a smile,
I’ll be listening, I’ll be waiting
Parting is but for a while.

Think of all the happy times
And those still yet to come,
For joy is everlasting
When God’s will is done.