Sample Grave Side Service

(Outline from the Methodist Hymnal,p.870  with additional prayers and hymns.   Cut and paste what appeals to you.

Have someone be leader or read all in unison.


We have gathered here to praise God and to witness to our faith as we celebrate the life of  ………  We come together in grief, acknowledging our human loss.  May God grant us grace, that in pain we may find comfort, in sorrow hope, in death resurrection.

O God, who gave us birth, you are ever more ready to hear than we are to pray.  You know our needs before we ask, and  our ignorance in asking.  Give to us now your grace, that as we shrink before the mystery of death, we may see the light of eternity.  Help us to live as those who are prepared to die.  And when our days here are accomplished, enable us to die as those who go forth to live, so that living or dying, our life may be in you.  AMEN

(See additional prayers below)

The 23rd Psalm

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:
He leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul:
He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness
For his name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk
Through the valley of  the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil:
For thou art with me;
Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou prepares a table before me
In the presence of mine enemies;
thou anointest my head with oil;
My cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life:
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.



We lift our eyes up to the hills.

From where does our help come?

Our help comes from the Unseen One,

The Maker of the heavens and the earth,

Who will not cause our feet to stumble,

Our protector who never sleeps.

The Abundant One preserves us,

The Watchful One is our shelter and


The Vigilant One guards us from evil,

And keeps our Life-breath safe.

The Shepherd guards our going out

and out coming in from now unto eternity.

(place the urn in the ground)

O God, all that you have given us is yours.  At first you gave ……. to us, so now we give him back to  you.


Into your hands, O merciful God, we commend your servant ……….
Acknowledge, we humbly beseech you, a sheep of your own fold,
A lamb of your own flock, a sinner of your own redeeming.  Receive ………into the arms of your mercy, into the blessed rest of everlasting peace, and into the glorious company of the saints of light.  Amen



And now we offer and commend (name of person) to the Everlasting One.

(Name of person), we say to you in the midst of our sorrow and loss that we are grateful that you lived your life among us. We are grateful for your quiet gentleness and for your firm resolve to live life and to die on your own terms. We take joy and relief in knowing that your suffering has ended. We ask you now for forgiveness for any of the ways we may have hurt you in this life – – and we forgive you for any of the ways you may have hurt us. We release you now into the Everlasting Arms. May your passage be swift. May you know Wholeness and Peace now and through all eternity. (May be followed by the Lord’s Prayer.)


Hymn?  See suggestions below.



May you be at ease.

May you be free from suffering.

May you be healed.

May you know joy and lightness of being

May you dwell in comfort and compassion.

May you be a source of comfort and compassion for all whom you meet.

Go in peace.


May the road rise to meet you, may the wind be always at your back, may the sun shine warm upon your face, may the rains fall soft upon your fields, and until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of his hand.

God be in your head, and in your understanding.
God be in your eyes, and in your looking.
God be in your mouth, and in your speaking.
God be in your heart, and in your thinking.
God be at your end, and at your departing.


Like a rock, God is under our feet.
Like a roof, God is over our heads.
Like the horizon, God is beyond us.
Like water in a pitcher, God is within us and in the pouring out of us.
Like a pebble in the sea, we are in God.


We have gathered to mourn the passing and to celebrate the life of _________________.    We have come together to grieve and to give thanks for his life.  For the next brief space in time, we will cry and laugh almost simultaneously.  As human beings we are the only creatures gifted to feel such a range of emotions all at the same time.  It is good that we can do it together.

Whenever a death occurs, those of us who remain behind enter a space in time that is quite out of the ordinary.  Whether we recognize this or not, this is sacred time – a time that holds potential for healing and insight and understanding that does not come readily in ordinary time.  With the death of someone we have known and loved, something in each one of us dies too.  We are reminded of the frailties and the gifts of our relationships.  We become more aware that we live in fragile human bodies.  We may come to know a heightened consciousness of what is precious and what is true.  Indeed with the passing of a loved one, we encounter our own mortality.

When we gather in (Christian) community, this sacred time is heightened by our affirmation that there is eternal life after death – and it is here, together, where we glimpse the mystery of the mansion with many rooms that Jesus promised his disciples as he prepared to leave them.   There is nothing we can touch, nothing we can describe or pin down – – nothing concrete – – but the mystery of death has the power to bring us to the threshold of faith.  In this extra – ordinary and sacred time, what we encounter is the power of grief – – and the power of hope.  It is here, together, where we may intuit the meaning of Paul’s words when he affirms that “Neither life nor death……can separate us from the love of God.”  So, I welcome you to this time out of ordinary time.  I invite you to pause, to let it settle in that a precious life has passed from among us.  We can use the gift of our worship and our memories to bring comfort and peace and joy and laughter to one another as we remember _______________ and…..perhaps……we will enjoy  a “trace” of  ________________ presence as we share together.

A couple of Celtic blessings – – I have used the first one as an opening blessing after welcoming people.  The second one as a closing blessing at the end of the service They are from John Phillip Newell’s  collection called “Praying With The Earth”

God of birth and life and death and beyond,

On this day

the blessings of earth.

On this day

the blessings of sea and sky.

To open us to life

to ground us in life

to fill us with life

and with wonder.

On those we love this day

and on every human family

the blessings of heaven,

the blessings of earth

the blessings of sky and sea.

In the rising of the sun and its setting,

in the whiteness of the moon and its seasons,

in the infinity of space and its shining stars,

you are God and we bless you.

May we know the harmony of Heaven

in the relationships of earth,

and may we know the expanse of its mystery within us.

We take your promised peace with us.  Amen.




(from the United Methodist Hymnal)

God of love, we thank you

For all with which you have blessed us

Even to this day:

For the gift of joy in days of health and strength,

And for the gifts of your abiding presence and promise

In days of pain and grief.

We praise you for home and friends, and for our baptism

And place in your church

With all who have faithfully lived and died.

Above all else, we thank you for Jesus,

Who knew our griefs,

Who died our death and rose for our sake,

who lives and prays for us.

And as he taught us, so now we pray:

(The Lord’s Prayer)


 An ancient Nordic funeral prayer. It is prayed by the one who is about to die:

Lo, there do I see my father

Lo, there do I see my mother and brothers and sisters

Lo, there do I see the line of my people

Back to the beginning.

Lo, they do call me to take my place among them

In the Halls of Heaven

So – it is time for us to say good-bye. It is time for us to begin to accept that (name of person) has answered the call to return to his/her eternal origins. It is time for us to recognize that death is not the enemy, but the Ultimate Healer.


Lord’s Prayer from The New Zealand Prayerbook

Eternal Spirit Earth-Maker, Pain-bearer, Life-giver,

source of all that is and that shall be,

Father and Mother of us all.

Loving God, in whom is heaven.

The hallowing of your name echoes through the universe!

The way of your justice be followed by the peoples of the earth!

Your heavenly will be done by all created beings!

Your commonwealth of peace and freedom sustain our hope and come on earth. With the bread we need for today, feed us.

In the hurts we absorb from one another, forgive us.

In times of temptation and test, spare us.

From the grip of all that is evil, free us.

For you reign in the glory of the power that is love,

now and forever.



Peace, my heart let the time for parting be sweet.

Let it not be a death but a completeness.

Let love melt into a memory and pain into songs.

Let the flight through the skies end in the folding of wings over the nest

Let the last touch of your hands be gentle,

Like the flower of the night.

Stan still, O Beautiful End, for a moment,

I bow to you and hold up my lamp

To light you on your way. – Rabindrinath Tagore




  1. Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;
    The darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide;
    When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
    Help of the helpless, oh, abide with me.
  2. Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day;
    Earth’s joys grow dim, its glories pass away;
    Change and decay in all around I see—
    O Thou who changest not, abide with me.
  3. I need Thy presence every passing hour;
    What but Thy grace can foil the tempter’s pow’r?
    Who, like Thyself, my guide and stay can be?
    Through cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me.
  4. I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless;
    Ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness;
    Where is death’s sting? Where, grave, thy victory?
    I triumph still, if Thou abide with me.


  1. Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
    That saved a wretch like me!
    I once was lost, but now am found;
    Was blind, but now I see.
  2. ’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
    And grace my fears relieved;
    How precious did that grace appear
    The hour I first believed.
  3. Through many dangers, toils and snares,
    I have already come;
    ’Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
    And grace will lead me home.
  4. The Lord has promised good to me,
    His Word my hope secures;
    He will my Shield and Portion be,
    As long as life endures.
  5. Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
    And mortal life shall cease,
    I shall possess, within the veil,
    A life of joy and peace.
  6. The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
    The sun forbear to shine;
    But God, who called me here below,
    Will be forever mine.
  7. When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
    Bright shining as the sun,
    We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
    Than when we’d first begun.

HYMN OF PROMISE P.707 IN Methodist Hymnal.  Google for chords


O God, Our Help in Ages Past

The United Methodist Hymnal Number 117
Text: Isaac Watts, 1674-1748
Music: Attr. to William Croft; harm. by W.H. Monk
Tune: ST. ANNE, Meter: CM


1. O God, our help in ages past,
our hope for years to come,
our shelter from the stormy blast,
and our eternal home.2. Under the shadow of thy throne,
still may we dwell secure;
sufficient is thine arm alone,
and our defense is sure.3. Before the hills in order stood,
or earth received her frame,
from everlasting, thou art God,
to endless years the same.4. A thousand ages, in thy sight,
are like an evening gone;
short as the watch that ends the night,
before the rising sun.5. Time, like an ever rolling stream,
bears all who breathe away;
they fly forgotten, as a dream
dies at the opening day.

6. O God, our help in ages past,
our hope for years to come;
be thou our guide while life shall last,
and our eternal home.