Funeral Chaplain

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Home > Articles > For Clergy > Order of Service - Traditional Funeral

Order of Service - Traditional Funeral

The traditional funeral typically involves a formal service either at the church or funeral home.  It would be followed by a funeral procession to the cemetery, where a brief commital service would occur.  Here is a suggested order of service to help you begin your planning.

  • Prelude - Choose suitable music for the occasion and the life of a loved one.   For a church funeral, hymns on the organ might be appropriate.  If no organist is available, a CD of the deceased's favorite music or genre might work well.
  • Call to Worship - Psalm 46, Psalm 130, John 14:1-3, John 11:25-26
  • Words of Greeting - A "Dearly beloved..." statement can provide the name of the deceased, the purpose of gathering, and additional words of comfort.

  • Invocation - This opening prayer by the minister can be extemporaneous, or one of the many opening prayers that we have provided on this site.
  • Psalm 23 - This familiar psalm could be read by the congregation.
  • Hymn or Special Song - Consider using a favorite hymn of the deceased.  If congregational singing doesn't seem advisable, a special musician could be secured.
  • Obituary/Eulogy/Open Sharing - This portion of the service can be dedicated to remembering the deceased: sharing memories and some lessons from their lives.
  • Scripture Lesson(s) - These lessons could be some favorite scriptures of the deceased, provide comfort to the family, or serve as the backdrop for the homily.
  • Meditation/Homily - A brief reflection given by the minister.  Suggested topics include: the gift of life, the power of God over death, the victory of Christ, the final trumpet, the free gift of salvation, a lesson from the life of the deceased.  The homily might also lead the minister toward another scripture passage to conclude this section.
  • Prayer with the Lord's Prayer
  • Hymn or Special Song
  • Instructions - The minister could provide thanks from the family and instructions about the order of events.  Some funeral directors prefer to do this, so the instructions could happen after the benediction.
  • Benediction - The benediction serves as the conclusion to the service.  Whether it is a scriptural blessing, a brief poem, or a prayer of comfort and dismissal, following these words, the minister should briefly greet the family in the front row, and then allow the funeral director or ushers to dismiss the congregation.
  • Funeral Procession - I prefer to ride in the Funeral Coach to the graveside, as it gives me a chance to visit with the funeral director, and also places me in a convenient location to escort the casket to the graveside.
  • Scripture Lesson - Job 19:25-27, I Corinthians 15:51-58, Revelation 14:13
  • Committal Statement - This statement should remind those gathered that even as they place the body in the ground, they are placing their loved one in the arms of God, and that they trust God to do right.
  • Prayer
  • Benediction


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