The Funeral Liturgy

This guide will take you through the Funeral Liturgy and provide selections of hymns and psalms that are examples of appropriate texts suitable for different times during the Mass.  Remember, you are not limited to these examples – we will provide a more comprehensive list when we meet.  A printed copy of the Funeral Liturgy Planning Worksheet, as well as this entire guide, is available on the menu to the right.

Please Note: Our Music Director and Cantor will provide music that will enhance this celebration and encourage the full participation of the  congregation in the songs, responses, and acclamations of the funeral rites. There are occasions when a family friend is requested to sing at a funeral. We know you will understand that a soloist, no matter how fine a singer, may not be comfortable or trained in the Ministry of Cantor, thus the need for the Parish Cantor to be present, even when a soloist has been engaged.

Introductory Rites

At the beginning of the Funeral Mass, the family gathers at the door of the church and is greeted by the Priest and other liturgical ministers.  The coffin is sprinkled with holy water in remembrance of the deceased person’s Baptism and first acceptance into the community of faith.  Family members are encouraged to place the white pall on the coffin as a reminder of the garment given at Baptism, signifying life in Christ.

As the procession begins toward the altar, a hymn is sung.  Suggestions for the processional hymn include:

Be Not Afraid (Dufford)
Here I am, Lord (Schutte)
Now Thank We All Our God (Rinkart)

Liturgy of the Word

Appropriate scriptural passages for the Readings may be found in the booklet Through Death to Life.  A family member or friend may read the First and Second Readings, or a liturgical minister at St. John’s will do so. The Cantor will lead the congregation in singing the psalm.

First Reading from the Old Testament

Responsorial Psalm

Singing the Responsorial Psalm enables our community to respond in faith to the reading(s).  Appropriate psalms and settings include:

Psalm 23:  My Shepherd is the Lord (Gelineau)
Psalm 23:  Shepherd Me, O God (Haugen)
Psalm 25:  To You, O Lord  (Haugen)
Psalm 27:  The Lord is My Light  (Haas)
Psalm 91: On Eagles’ Wings (Joncas)

Second Reading from the New Testament



Prayers of the Faithful

These prayers may be prepared and read by a family member or friend.  As each prayer is read, the community responds with the words “Lord, hear our prayer.”


As the Liturgy of the Eucharist begins, members of the family or friends may bring the gifts of bread and wine to the altar.   Instrumental music or a song may accompany this procession with the gifts.  Appropriate selections of music for this part of the Mass include:

Ave Maria (Schubert)
Eye Has Not Seen (Haugen)
Prayer of St. Francis (Temple)

The Cantor will lead the congregation in singing the Eucharistic prayer responses of the Sanctus (Holy, Holy, Holy),  Memorial Acclamation, Great Amen and Lamb of God.  

During the distribution of communion, a hymn or solo piece may be sung.  Music choices that are suitable are those that celebrate the Eucharist.  Suggestions include:

Eat This Bread (Berthier)
I Am The Bread of Life (Toolan)
One Bread, One Body (Foley)
Panis Angelicus (Franck)

Words of Remembrance

After communion, a representative of the family may offer a brief remembrance that shall maintain the dignity of the sacred ritual in which we are participating.  These remarks should be limited to 3-5 minutes.

Final Commendation and Farewell

During the final prayers, the coffin will be incensed and the Song of Farewell is sung.  The incense signifies respect for the body as the temple of the Holy Spirit and a sign of our prayers for the deceased rising up to God.

Procession to the Place of Committal 

At the conclusion of the funeral rite, a song or instrumental piece may accompany the procession as it leaves the church.  Suggestions include:

Amazing Grace (Newton)
How Great Thou Art (Hine)
Let There Be Peace on Earth (Miller, Jackson)