Funeral: Celtic Blessing

8thC Celtic Cross, Cardinham, Cornwall

I was blessed to assist this last week in the funeral of Jan Lacey; Aunty of my colleauge Chris and a passionate educator, activist and Bob Dylan fan. The benediction was an appropriately Irish blessing from John O’Donohue’s “Anam Cara: Spiritual Wisdom for the Celtic World” (1997, Bantam)

A Blessing for Death

I pray that you will have the blessing of being consoled and sure about your own death.

May you know in your soul that there is no need to be afraid.

When your time comes, may you be given every blessing and shelter that you need.

May there be a beautiful welcome for you in the home that you are going to.

You are not going somewhere strange.

You are going back to the home that you never left.

May you have a wonderful urgency to live your life to the full.

May you live compassionately and creatively and transfigure everything that is negative within you and about you.

When you come to die may it be after a long life.

May you be peaceful and happy and in the presence of those who really care for you.

May your going be sheltered and your welcome assured.

May your soul smile in the embrace of your anam cara (soul friend).

More Celtic Funeral Prayers below..

These are from Ray Simpson’s “Celtic Blessings for everyday life: Prayers for every occasion (Hodder and Stoughton, London, 1998). Ray is Guardian of The Community of Aidan and Hilda, Northumbria.

Father , I place N….into your hands;

Acknowledge a sheep of your own fold,

A lamb of your own flock,

A sinner of your own redeeming.

Enfold N… the arms of your mercy,

In the blessed rest of everlasting peace,

And in the glorious company of the saints in light.


Go forth upon your journey from this world,

In the Name of God the Father who created you;

In the Name of Jesus Christ who died for you;

IN the Name of the Holy Spirit who shines through you;

In friendship with God’s saints;

Aided by the holy angels.

May you rest this day in 
the peace and love of your eternal home.

Traditional adapted

May you be as free as the wind
 As soft as sheeps wool
 As straight as an arrow
 That you may journey into the heart of God.

If the deceased person had been baptised:

May you who were baptised N…..
now be immersed into the life of God: (sprinkling water over coffin)

Into the presence of the Creator I immerse you

Into the presence of the Saviour I immerse you

Into the presence of the Spirit I immerse you

May kindly Michael, chief of the holy angels,
Take charge of you beloved soul

And tenderly bring it home

To the Three of limitless love:
Creator, Saviour, Eternal Life-giver

An Irish Funeral Prayer

Death is nothing at all.
 It does not count.
  I have only slipped away into the next room.
  Everything remains as it was.
  The old life that we lived so fondly together is untouched, unchanged.
  Whatever we were to each other, that we are still.
  Call me by the old familiar name.
  Speak of me in the easy way which you always used.
  Put no sorrow in your tone.  
Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes that we enjoyed together.
  Play, smile, think of me, pray for me.  
Let my name be ever the household word that it always was.
   Let it be spoken without  effort
.  Life means all that it ever meant.  It is the same as it ever was.
  There is unbroken continuity.
  Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight?   
I am but waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near, just around the corner.
   All is well. Nothing is hurt; nothing is lost.
  One brief moment and all will be as it was before.   
How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting,  when we meet again.

Source: derived from a sermon written by Henry Scott Holland and delivered in St. Paul’s (London) on 15 May 1910, at which time the body of King Edward VII was lying in state at Westminster. Although not originally derived from Irish writings, versions of this sermon have been used at many Irish and Catholic funerals over the years.

Traditional Blessing

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 the Lord hold you in the palm of His hand.



Gwith ny yn saw, a Arludh, yn tewolgow an nos ma,

rag an wlascor heb diwedh, may fedh golowys ow tewynnya bys vykken ha bys vynary.

1 Y’n tor’-ma, a Arludh, yth esos ow tanvon dha servont dhe-ves yn cosoleth war-lergh dha lavar.

2 Ow dewlagas ow honan re welas dha selwans a wrussys pareusy dherag fas oll an poblow;

3 May halla bos golow dhe wolowy an Jentilys ha glory dhe’th pobel Israel.

Gwith ni yn saw, a Arludh, yn tewolgow an nos ma, rag an wlascor heb diwedh, may fedh golowys ow tewynnya bys vykken ha bys vynary.

English Translation

THE GOSPEL CANTICLE – The Nunc Dimittis  Luke 2:29-32

Keep us safe, Lord, in the darkness of this night, for the eternal kingdom, where there is flaming radiance for ever.

1 Lord, now you let your servant rest in peace, your word has been fulfilled.

2 My own eyes have seen the salvation: which you have prepared in the sight of every people;

3 A light to reveal you to the nations: and the glory of your people Israel.

Glory be to you, O Creating, Saving and Inspiring God, now and forever. Amen

Keep us safe, Lord, in the darkness of this night, for the eternal kingdom, where there is flaming radiance for ever.


7 Replies to “Funeral: Celtic Blessing”

  1. I have been asked to conduct a funeral on Thursday 21st April and to use some Celtic or Gaelic prayers and a committal that does not use the ‘earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust’ wording. Is there anyone out there that can help? PLease email me direct on
    Many thanks

  2. Celtic Commital:
    Minister : Sure in the promise of our Lord Jesus Christ and trusting in the grace and compassion of God, we now commit his/her body to the ground/ to be cremated. Eternal God who scatters the stars into the blackness of space, who watches when the smallest sparrow falls, who knows the wonder of joy and the agony of despair, and who delights in all that he has made, we give our loved one into your care.
    Reader 1: Jesus said, ‘Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid (John 14:27 KJV)
    Reader 2: ‘Lo, I am with you always even unto the end of the world.’ (Matthew 28:20 KJV)
    I got this from Pat Robsons “A Celtic Liturgy” (Harper Collins, London, 2000) which I picked up when I visted her church, St. Enoders whilst in Cornwall in 2000.

  3. I love the Celtic funeral posts. Do you have anything or know of anything appropriate for a Celtic Christmas service – prayers, calls to worship, etc. Time is of the essence. Appreciate any help you can give me.

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