Prayers for memorial services

Prayers are often incorporated into funerals and memorial services.  They can be used as a part of a speech, tribute, prayer, eulogy or reading.   Prayers are also used in funeral and memorial printing , such as funeral programs, order of service programs, funeral and Memorial bookmarks and memorial prayer cards. Below are several funeral prayers that can be used in your Christian funeral services and funeral stationery.

prayers for memorial services

The Resurrection Prayer
I am the resurrection and the Life,
Saith the Lord: He that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:
and whosoever liveth and believeth in me, shall never die.
I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth:
and though his body be destroyed, yet shall I see GOD: whom I shall see for myself,
and mine eyes shall behold, and not as a stranger.
We brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
The LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.

The Twenty-Third Psalm
The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He restores my soul. He guides me in the path of righteousness for His name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, They comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the Lord – forever.

The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory. for ever and ever. Amen

Alternative Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your Kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours. Now and for ever. Amen

The Serenity Prayer God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time; Enjoying one moment at a time; Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace; Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it; Trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His will; That I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with
Him forever in the next.

PEACE Lord, Make me a channel of thy peace- That where there is hatred, I may bring love; That where there is wrong, I may bring the spirit of forgiveness; That where there is discord, I may bring harmony; That where there is error, I may bring truth; That where there is doubt, I may bring faith; That where there is despair, I may bring hope; That where there are shadows, I may bring light;

That where there is sadness, I may bring joy. Lord, grant that I may seek rather to comfort than to be comforted; To understand, than be understood; To love, than be loved. For it is by self-forgetting that one finds. It is by forgiving that one is forgiven. It is by dying that one awakens to find – Eternal Life.

Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi
Lord, make me an instrument of Your Peace; Where there is hatred, let me sow Love; Where there is injury, pardon; Where there is doubt, faith; Where there is despair, hope; Where there is darkness, light; Where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may seek not so much to be consoled,
as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; for it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

A Season To everything there is a season,

and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to get, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate;
a time of war, and a time of peace.

A Prayer For The Dead
God our Father,

Your power brings us to birth,
Your providence guides our lives,
and by Your command we return to dust.

Lord, those who die still live in Your presence,

their lives change but do not end.
I pray in hope for my family,
relatives and friends,
and for all the dead known to You alone.

In company with Christ,

Who died and now lives,
may they rejoice in Your kingdom,
where all our tears are wiped away.
Unite us together again in one family,
to sing Your praise forever and ever.

Lord Of All We Praise You Lord of all, we praise you

for all who have entered into their rest
and reached the promised land where you are seen face to face.
Give us grace to follow in their footsteps
as they followed in the way of your Son.
Thank you for the memory of those you have called to yourself:
by each memory, turn our hearts from things seen to things unseen,
and lead us till we come to the eternal rest
you have prepared for your people,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Now I lay me down to sleep Now I lay me down to sleep

I pray the Lord my soul to keep
If I should die before I wake
I pray the Lord my soul to take.

The Beatitudes Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the

Kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are they which hunger and thirst
after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall
obtain mercy.

Little Angels When god calls little children to dwell with Him above,

We mortals sometimes question the wisdom of His love.
For no heartache compares with the death of one small child,
who does so much to make our world seem wonderful and mild.
Perhaps God tires of calling the aged to His fold,
so He picks a rosebud, before it can grow old.
God knows how much we need them, and so he takes but few
to make the land of heaven more beautiful to view.
Believing this is difficult still somehow we must try,
the saddest word mankind knows will always be “Goodbye”
So when a little child departs, we who are
left behind must realize God loves children,
angels are hard to find.
(Author unknown)

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prayers for memorial services

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This Sample is a Life Celebration and Memorial somewhat in the Catholic Tradition. 

Entrance Song – On Eagle’s Wings

In the name of the Father…+

Let us pray:

God of all Life, we come together to celebrate the life and spirit of ____ and to share our sadness and grief with his/her passing.  Because s/he loved well and was such an outstanding person, our faith suggests that s/he is with you. However, our minds can neither figure out nor comprehend the experience of dying and the mystery of death or resurrection and our hearts are sad. Your spirit of life is a comfort to us and so are the many family, friends who have gathered to be with us here today. As we spend this time together in ____’s memory, please touch the empty space and hurt that is left in our hearts by her/his absence and fill us with your abundant light, hope, peace and serenity.


First Reading 1 – Daniel 12:1-3

         Reader: TBD


At that time there shall arise Michael,

the great prince, guardian of your people;

It shall be a time unsurpassed in distress

since the nation began until that time.

At that time your people shall escape,

everyone who is found written in the book.

Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake;

Some to everlasting life, others to reproach and everlasting disgrace.

But those with insight shall shine brightly

like the splendor of the firmament,

And those who lead the many to justice

shall be like the starsforever.

Second Reading 2 – 1 Thessalonians 4: 13-18

         Reader- TBD

Hope for the Christian Dead

We do not want you to be unaware, brothers, about those who have fallen asleep, so that you may not grieve like the rest, who have no hope.14For if we believe that Jesus died and rose, so too will God, through Jesus, bring with him those who have fallen asleep.


15Indeed, we tell you this, on the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord,


 will surely not precede those who have fallen asleep.


16For the Lord himself, with a word of command, with the voice of an archangel and with the trumpet of God, will come down from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first.


17Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together


 with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Thus we shall always be with the Lord.18Therefore, console one another with these words.

Gospel Reading – Matthew 5:1-12a

           Reader- TBD

When he saw the crowds,


 he went up the mountain, and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him.2He began to teach them, saying:

3“Blessed are the poor in spirit,


for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.


 Blessed are they who mourn,

for they will be comforted.

for they will inherit the land.

6Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness,


for they will be satisfied.

7Blessed are the merciful,

for they will be shown mercy.


 Blessed are the clean of heart,

for they will see God.

9Blessed are the peacemakers,

for they will be called children of God.

10Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,


for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you because of me.


 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven. Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Personal Life Tributes and Reflections

                  BY: TBD

Followed by an invitation to others to share thoughts, stories or feeling about ____.

Reflection Song – We Remember    

Prayers of the Faithful/ Intercessions

Respond with: Lord Hear our Prayer

We pray in gratitude for ___’s life,

Let us Pray to the Lord:Lord Hear our Prayer

We pray for all of ____’s family and friends that they may find peace in his loving memory and comfort in their sorrow and loss.

Let us Pray to the Lord:Lord Hear our Prayer

We pray for everyone who has been touched by ____’s life, work, creativity, spirit and enthusiasm.

Let us Pray to the Lord:Lord Hear our Prayer

We pray for ____’s spirit and ask that you be gracious, merciful, and abounding in love, to welcome him/her into paradise.

Let us Pray to the Lord:Lord Hear our Prayer

We pray for the health and safety of all the men and women in active military service, for their families and in gratitude for all veterans.

Let us Pray to the Lord: Lord Hear our Prayer

And for whom else and what else shall we pray

Let us Pray to the Lord:Lord Hear our Prayer

Let us Pray:

God of Life, listen to the prayers we place before you. Look with love and compassion on we, who mourn and pray for _____. Do not let any of us be parted from your presence, but by your glorious power and love, give us all light, joy, and peace in heaven, where you live forever and ever. Amen.

Invite all to pray the Our Father

Final Prayer

Most Holy God, we ask that you bless ____ and her/his family.

May they all remain in your presence

and in the special presence of each other.

May they have the serenity

to accept the things they cannot change,

the courage to change the things they can change,

and the wisdom to know the difference. (Reinhold Niebhur)

May they each grow in your spirit and love and know a new freedom

May they grow and find peace in their relationship with each other, with their friends, and with you, their God.

And may your blessing be upon them today and from this day forward.


And God, please give ____ an eternal rest,

and may your light always shine upon her/him and her/his family. And may his/her soul and the souls of all the faithfully departed through the mercy of God rest in peace.


In the Name of the Father….

Closing Song – Be Not Afraid


          Hail Mary at Grave.
Memorial Services





(mnemosyna, memorial) or



(Old Church Slavonic)



(Latinized as

Pannikhída ,

Pannichida , or

Panikhída ; from the Greek for “all the dead”) are special prayer services offered for the benefit of the departed.

Prayers and Almsgiving

Early Christians expressed their concern for the repose of the souls of their beloved by works of charity and love and by personal and communal prayers.

The Apostolic Constitutions recommended that part of the possessions of a dead person be distributed to the poor in his “memory”.

St. John Chrysostom, Jerome, Tertullian, and others also recommended alms giving in memory of the dead although they believe that this and other good works for the repose of the soul of the dead also benefit the doers.

Memorial Services with Kollyva Offerings

In the Orthodox Church the various prayers for the departed have as their purpose to pray for the repose of the departed, to comfort the living, and to remind those who remain behind of their own mortality, and the brevity of this earthly life. For this reason, memorial services have an air of penitence about them and tend to be served more frequently during the four fasting seasons (Great Lent, Nativity Fast, Apostles’ Fast and Dormition Fast).

According to the Apostolic Constitutions, memorial services may be held on the 3rd, 9th, and 40th day, and on the completion of a year from the day of death. These prescribed times are still observed in most Orthodox places.

The memorial service is most frequently served after the Divine Liturgy, however it may also be served after Vespers, Matins, or as a separate service by itself. For the memorial service, Kollyva, a ritual food of boiled wheat, is often prepared and is placed in front of the “memorial table” or an icon of Christ and is blessed by the priest afterwards.

The service is composed of Psalms, Ektenias (litanies), hymns and prayers. In its outline it follows the general outline of Matins, and is in effect a truncated funeral service. Some of the most notable portions of the service are the Kontakion of the Departed, and the final, slow and solemn singing of “Memory Eternal.”

The deacon (or, if there is no deacon the priest) will swing the censer throughout almost the entire service, and all will stand holding lighted candles. Near the end of the service, during the final Troparia, all will either put out their candles or will place them in candle holders on the memorial table. Each candle symbolizes the individual soul, which, as it were, each person holds in their own hand. The extinguishing (or giving up) of the candle at the end of the service symbolizes the fact that each person will have to surrender their soul at the end of their life.

Considering the fact that in the Orthodox Churches of the diaspora a memorial service with the participation of the congregation must be held on a Sunday, the 40th day memorial service is the one universally observed although by necessity, it may not be held exactly on the 40th day. Needless to say, the Orthodox people may give the names of their departed to be mentioned by the priest in the Eucharist at any time.

At Gravesites and Commemorative meals

Another kind of memorial was the gathering on the graves of the dead or in the church (funerals), and the serving of meals afterwards known as “makariai” (meals in memory of) that are still held by many in the church hall following burial.

In addition, it is also customary for the priest to pour wine, oil, and some of the Kollyva on the grave site, following memorial services in church.

At the Eucharist

Praying for the dead could include celebrating the Eucharist or could be a special service, as it is now, in which the names of the dead were mentioned, or it could be both.

St. Cyril of Jerusalem mentions the prayers offered for the benefit of all who have died in the faith of Christ, stating that their souls greatly benefit by the prayers of the Church and by offering the Bloodless Sacrifice for the repose of their souls.

St. John Chrysostom believes that “to mention the names of the departed in the awesome mystery of the Eucharist results in much benefit for the souls of the beloved.”

Above all, praying for the dead is a deeply rooted practice in the Church on the belief that the Church of Christ is constituted not only of her living members but also of her departed ones. The Bloodless Sacrifice of the Orthodox Eucharist, as articulated in all the Liturgies in use, is offered for the benefit of both dead and living faithful.

A Biblical basis for praying for the dead may be found in the Epistle of St. James, 5:16, by which the “prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects.”

See also

  • Kollyva
  • Prayer for the Dead.
  • Prayer
  • Birnstan of Winchester


  • Memorial service (Orthodox)


  1. ↑ The non-canonical Acts of Paul and Thecla (New Testament Apocrypha) speak of the efficacy of prayer for the dead, so that they might be “translated to a state of happiness.” (Acts of Paul and Thecla, 8:5)
  2. ↑ For instance, the Memorial Service does not have the chanting of “God is the Lord…” as the Molieben does; but instead, the “Alleluia” is chanted, reminiscent of the “Alleluia” that is chanted at Lenten services.
  3. ↑ They are also commonly held on the third year anniversary. Some faithful will request a memorial every year on the anniversary of death.
  4. ↑ The memorial table is a small, free-standing table to which has been attached an upright crucifix, sometimes including also icons of the Theotokos (the Virgin Mary) and the Apostle John. The table will also have a place for the faithful to put lighted candles.
  5. ↑ From this comes the Greek name parastas which refers to standing all night in vigil, which in the early days was what literally took place.
  6. ↑ Kontakion of the Departed: “With the saints give rest, O Christ, to the soul(s) of Thy servant(s), where there is neither sickness, nor sorrow, nor sighing, but life everlasting.”
  7. Deacon: In blessed repose, O Lord, grant eternal rest unto Thy departed servant (Name) and make his/her memory to be eternal!
    Choir: Memory eternal! Memory eternal! Memory eternal!


  1. ↑ Rev. Dr. Nicon D. Patrinacos (M.A., D.Phil. (Oxon)). A Dictionary of Greek Orthodoxy – Λεξικόν Ελληνικής Ορθοδοξίας. Light & Life Publishing, Minnesota, 1984. pp.249-250.


  • Rev. Dr. Nicon D. Patrinacos (M.A., D.Phil. (Oxon)). A Dictionary of Greek Orthodoxy – Λεξικον Ελληνικης Ορθοδοξιας. Light & Life Publishing, Minnesota, 1984.
  • Memorial service (Orthodox) at Wikipedia.

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