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Memorial Service Readings


Readings can be an important part of a memorial service.  They can help set the tone, poetically express feelings, and pay tributes to favorite authors.  For example an English or military family might appreciate reading 13) by Winston Churchill.  A memorial service that ends on an uplifting, positive note could include reading 6) Smile For You.

A reading can be included at almost any point in the ceremony and can serve as a transition from one part of a ceremony to another.  The readings listed here are just suggestions.  Do not be limited by them. 


Memorial Readings

1) "The Live that I Have" - Leo Marks,
2) "All Is Well" - Henry Scott Holland
3) "Farewell My Friends" - Gitanjali Ghei
4)  "When I Think of Death" - Maya Angelou
5)  "The River" - Bertrand Russell
6)  "Smile For You" - Author Unknown
7)  "Happy the Man" - John Dryden
8) "Tributes" - Robert Green Ingersoll
9)  Seneca (Ancient Roman philosopher)
10)  "Requiem" - Robert Louis Stevenson's
11)  "Do not go gentle into that good night" - Dylan Thomas
12)  "Today Is A Gift" - Laszlo Kotro-Kosztandi
13)  "Let Us Be Contented" - Winston Churchill
14)  "They Are Not Dead" - Author Unknown
15)  Traditional Indian Prayer - The Native American Ishi People Of The Pacific Northwest
16)  "We Remember Him" - The Yizkor Service
17)  "For Katrina's Sun Dial" - Henry Van Dyke



1) "The Live that I Have" - Leo Marks


The life that I have,
Is all that I have,
And the life that I have is yours.
The love that I have,
Of the life that I have,
Is yours and yours and yours.
A sleep I shall have,
A rest I shall have,
Yet death will be but a pause.
For the peace of my years
In the long green grass,
Will be yours and yours and yours.


2) "All Is Well" - Henry Scott Holland

Death is nothing at all,
I have only slipped away into the next room.
Whatever we were to each other, we still are.
Please, call me by my old familiar name.
Speak of me in the same easy way you always did.
Laugh, as we always laughed, at the little jokes we enjoyed together.
Think of me and smile.
Let my name be the household name it always was,
Spoken without the shadow of a ghost in it.
Life means all it ever meant.
It is the same as it ever was.
Death is inevitable, so why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight?
I am but waiting for you, - for an interval very near.
Nothing is past or lost.
One brief moment and all will be as it was before,
Only better and happier.
Together forever.
All is well.


3) "Farewell My Friends" - Gitanjali Ghei

It was beautiful as long as it lasted,
the journey of my life,
I have no regrets whatsoever,
save the pain I'll leave behind.
Those dear hearts who love and care,
and the heavy with sleep ever-moist eyes,
the smile in spite of a lump in the throat
and the strings pulling at the heart and soul,
The strong arms that held me up
when my own strength let me down,
each morsel that I was fed with was full of love.
At every turning of my life
I came across good friends,
friends who stood by me,
even when the time raced me by.
Farewell, farewell my friends,
I smile and bid you goodbye.
No, shed no tears, for I need them not,
all I need is your smile,
If you feel sad, do think of me,
for that's what I'll like,
when you live in the hearts of those you love,
remember then...... you never die.


4)  "When I Think of Death" - Maya Angelou

When I think of death,
and of late the idea has come with alarming frequency,
I seem at peace with the idea that a day will dawn
when I will no longer be among those living in this valley of strange humors. 
I can accept the idea of my own demise,
but I am unable to accept the death of anyone else.
I find it impossible to let a friend or relative go into that country of no return.
Disbelief becomes my close companion,
and anger often follows in its wake.
I answer the heroic question 'Death, where is thy sting?' with
' it is here in my heart and mind and memories.'


5)  "The River" - Bertrand Russell

An individual human existence should be like a river-
small at first, narrowly contained within its banks,
and rushing passionately past boulders and over waterfalls.
Gradually the river grows wider, the banks recede,
the waters flow more quietly,
and-in the end--- without any visible break,
they become merged in the sea,
and painlessly lose their individual being.
The man or woman who, in old age, can see his or her life in this way,
will not suffer from the fear of death,
since the things they care for will continue.


6)  "Smile For You" - Author Unknown

Smiling is infectious; you catch it like the flu,
When someone smiled at me today, I started smiling too.
I passed around the corner and someone saw my grin,
When he smiled I realised I'd passed it onto him.
I thought about that smile, then realised its worth,
A single smile, just like mine, could travel round the earth.
So, if you feel a smile begin, don't leave it undetected,
Lets start an epidemic quick, and get the world infected!


7)  "Happy the Man" - John Dryden

Happy the man, and happy he alone,
He who can call today his own:
He who, secure within, can say,
Tomorrow do thy worst, for I have lived today.
Be fair or foul or rain or shine
The joys I have possessed, in spite of fate, are mine.
Not Heaven itself upon the past has power,
But what has been, has been, and I have had my hour.


8) "Tributes" - Robert Green Ingersoll

He denied the supernatural -- the phantoms and the ghosts that fill the twilight-land of fear. To him and for him there was but one religion -- the religion of pure thoughts, of noble words, of self-denying deeds, of honest work for all the world – the religion of Help and Hope.
    
Facts were the foundation of his faith; history was his prophet; reason his guide; duty his deity; happiness the ends; intelligence the means.
    
He knew that man must be the providence of man.
    
He did not believe in Religion and Science, but in the Religion of Science -- that is to say, wisdom glorified by love, the redemption of humanity -- the religion that conquers prejudice and hatred, that drives all superstition from the mind, that ennobles, lengthens and enriches life, that drives from every home the wolves of want, from every heart the fiends of selfishness and fear, and from every brain the monsters of the night.
    
He lived and labored for his fellow-men. He sided with the weak and poor against the strong and rich. He welcomed light. His face was ever toward the East.
    
According to his light he lived. "The world was his country -- to do good his religion." There is no language to express a nobler creed than this; nothing can be grander, more comprehensive, nearer perfect. This was the creed that glorified his life.


9)  Seneca (Ancient Roman philosopher)

In the presence of death, we must continue to sing the song of life. We must be able to accept death and go from it's presence better able to bear our burdens and to lighten the load of others. Out of our sorrows should come understanding. Through our sorrows, we join with all of those before who have had to suffer and all of those who will yet have to do so. Let us not be gripped by the fear of death. If another day be added to our lives, let us joyfully receive it, but let us not anxiously depend on our tomorrows. Though we grieve the deaths of our loved ones, we accept them and hold on to our memories as precious gifts. Let us make the best of our loved ones while they are with us, and let us not bury our love with death."


10)  "Requiem" - Robert Louis Stevenson's

Under the wide 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 from sea,
And the hunter home from the hill.


11)  "Do not go gentle into that good night" - Dylan Thomas

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.


12)  "Today Is A Gift" - Laszlo Kotro-Kosztandi

Many people will walk in and out of your life,
But only true friends will leave footprints in your heart
To handle yourself, use your head;
To handle others, use your heart.
Anger is only one letter short of danger.
If someone betrays you twice, it is your fault
Great minds discuss events;
Small minds discuss people.
He who loses money, loses much;
He who loses a friend, loses much more;
He who loses faith, loses all.
Beautiful old people are works of art.
Learn from the mistakes of others
You can't live long enough to make them all yourself.
Friends, you and me ... You brought another friend ...
and we started our group ... our circle of friends ...
and like a circle ... there is no beginning or end ...
Yesterday is history.
Tomorrow is mystery.
Today is a gift.


13)  "Let Us Be Contented" - Winston Churchill

Let us be contented with what has happened and be thankful for all that we have been spared.
Let us accept the natural order of things in which we move.
Let us reconcile ourselves to the mysterious rhythm of our destinies, such as they must be in this world of space and time.
Let us treasure our joys but not bewail our sorrows.
The glory of light cannot exist without its shadows.
Life is a whole, and good and ill must be accepted together.
The journey has been enjoyable and well worth making-----once.


14)  "They Are Not Dead" - Author Unknown

They are not dead,
Who leave us this great heritage of remembering joy.

They still live in our hearts,
In the happiness we knew, in the dreams we shared.

They still breathe,
In the lingering fragrance,windblown, from their favourite flowers.

They still smile in the moonlight's silver,
And laugh in the sunlight's sparking gold.

They still speak in the echoes of the words we've heard them say again and again.

They still move,
In the rhythm of waving grasses, in the dance of the tossing branches.

They are not dead;
Their memory is warm in our hearts, comfort in our sorrow.

They are not apart from us, but part of us,

For love is eternal,
And those we love shall be with us throughout all eternity.


15)  Traditional Indian Prayer - The Native American Ishi People Of The Pacific Northwest

When I am dead
Cry for me a little
Think of me sometimes
But not too much.
Think of me now and again
As I was in life
At some moments it's pleasant to recall
But not for long.
Leave me in peace
And I shall leave you in peace
And while you live
Let your thoughts be with the living.


16)  "We Remember Him" - The Yizkor Service

In the rising of the sun, and in its going down
We remember him
In the blowing of the wind, and in the chill of winter
We remember him
In the opening of buds, and in the warmth of summer
We remember him
In the rustling of leaves, and in the beauty of the autumn
We remember him
In the beginning of the year, and when it ends
We remember him.


17)  "For Katrina's Sun Dial" - Henry Van Dyke

Time is too slow for those who wait,
Too swift for those who fear,
Too long for those who grieve,
Too short for those who rejoice,
But for those who love, time is
Eternity




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